Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2020 by Josh Spiegel
(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)
As they’re sometimes wont to do, Disney made news a couple weeks ago. For once during the pandemic, the news was unrelated to the theme parks, their continued closure in California, or their stripped-down operation in Florida. Instead, the news focused on where Disney began: its earlier animated and live-action features. More specifically, the news focused on the dark side of where and how Disney began, acknowledging its racially and sexually insensitive material in films like The Aristocats, Dumbo, and The Jungle Book.
If you’re a Disney+ subscriber and play those titles now, you’ll see a generic message letting you know that the film you’re about to see has something offensive that was treated as unproblematic upon release but is now correctly seen as Not Great, Bob! The message also encourages the viewer to visit a website that’s intended to explain how stories matter – stories of all kinds and shapes, highlighting the diversity that Disney is trying to achieve now while also describing and calling out the films they released that failed to represent diverse cultures effectively.
Most of the titles receiving this treatment are old-school animated classics. (Even though I strongly dislike The Aristocats, I feel slightly bad for the 1970 animated feature because no one at Disney realizes they have excluded the word “The” from the title.) But another film getting this title card is our column’s subject: the 1960 adventure adaptation Swiss Family Robinson.