Technology

Of Course There’s Racism on Disney+


Disney+ launched this week giving us a streaming TV service with a frankly scary amount of content from across the Mouse House’s long history. And because that history is so long, it covers eras where political attitudes weren’t quite as progressive as they are today. So surprising no one, there sure is some racism in certain corners of Disney+. What’s interesting though is how Disney has chosen to address it.

Disney+ isn’t entirely comprehensive. Some material that the company finds totally unacceptable just isn’t here. That includes the episode of The Simpsons guest-starring Michael Jackson as well as infamous slavery apologia Song of the South. Remember, Splash Mountain absolutely isn’t based on a movie where characters sing about how cool plantations are.

However, there are other films on Disney+ that should be and are here for the sake of completeness but that do have issues of cultural representation too problematic to not be addressed. You can draw a direct line between the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons and blackface performances. But even someone without that context can see the racism in, say, the crows in Dumbo or the indigenous people in Peter Pan. And don’t even get us started on Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.

So in the descriptions of certain films, Disney+ includes the disclaimer “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” That’s not an awful solution. And we’re glad Disney is acknowledging the issue as opposed to pretending it never happened out of shame.

But as far as preservation and presentation of prejudiced material goes, The Washington Post reports that many have noticed Warner Bros.’ treatment of old racist Looney Tunes cartoons was done with far more care. Not only was the rejection of racism far more full-throated, the warning was placed into the video itself, not in a text box that can be easily ignored.

Funny enough, one of the original movies on Disney+ is a live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp. Thanks to its Siamese Cats, the original cartoon also needed a disclaimer. And the remake just re-imagines the characters entirely.

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Netflix / Hulu / HBO Go Accounts

So many streaming TV services to choose from. Where do you start?

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Netflix is still arguably the biggest name in streaming TV.

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Hulu trial screen

Although it no longer has a free option, Hulu is a great streaming TV service that is worth paying for.

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From buying to renting to subscribing to individual channels, Amazon offers a bevy of streaming TV options.

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YouTube Red subscribers can watch original shows from streaming stars, but YouTube TV lets you watch actual live TV.

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Hook up a Slingbox and watch the cable and live TV you’re already paying for anywhere.

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You have to buy channels in bulk and still deal with commercials, but with DirecTV Now you get the real live TV experience delivered through streaming.

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Crunchyroll is the best anime streaming service if you’re all about subtitles.

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If dubs are more your thing, Funimation Now is the anime streaming service for you.

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If you want to stream shows and documentaries that actually teach you something, go with CuriosityStream.

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AMC Premiere just focuses on current AMC shows, but for Walking Dead super fans that might be enough.

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With Boomerang, tons of retro cartoons, from Looney Tunes to Scooby-Doo, can all come back to you

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FuboTV may be the escape from cable that sports fans are looking for. It’s pricey, but being able to easily stream live sports and more from dozens of channels with only one subscription might very well be worth it.

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Brown Sugar has all of the classic Blaxploitation movies you could want and then some. It’s niche, but it’s one of the most impressive niche libraries we’ve seen.

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For the true cinephile, FilmStruck has a large collection of classic films from all eras and countries, including movies from the Criterion Collection.

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CollegeHumor’s Dropout provides premium streaming online laughs.

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DC Universe offers live-action adaptations of less familiar superheroes, like Doom Patrol.

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Shudder Is the Horror Streaming Service Fans Were Waiting For

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Along with presenting streaming services like Netflix and Sling through one box, Dish AirTV also lets you watch local over-the-air channels with an additional installation.

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Get a streaming media device to enjoy these services on your TV. Our favorite is the Amazon Fire Stick.

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The sheer nostalgic power of the library on Disney+ just can’t be beat.

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As expensive and glossy as it is, the actual original content on AppleTV+ just can’t compete quite yet.

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