Short flashback sequence. Remember: last June, the HBO channel withdrew from its catalog the film Gone with the Wind, before making it again available, this time accompanied by several videos evoking the work’s controversial position on its fictionalized and questionable vision of African-American slavery. The channel’s approach, and the questions it raised, had inflamed social networks all summer: should we censor, cut, recontextualize certain films and series, whose words or tone today may disturb or cause controversy?
In this perspective, and according to information from the US site TheWrap, the Disney company has just decided to add pre-generic warnings concerning certain classics in its catalog of films, available on its Disney + platform, due to “negative descriptions of races and erroneous descriptions of people or cultures”; the dead race having, it must be remembered, not at all the same meaning in the United States as in us. In the United States, race, as defined today by the United States Census Bureau, is a datum corresponding to an identifying concept whereby residents choose the race or races with which or which they identify with best. Thus, for two centuries, American residents have had to declare their “race” to census agents, by answering the question asked: are you “black”, “white”, “native”, “Asian”, etc …
The films Peter Pan, The Aristocats, The Robinsons of the South Seas, and Dumbo are therefore targeted. These films will open as follows: ‘“This program includes negative descriptions or representations of people or cultures. These stereotypes were already bad, and still are. Rather than removing this content, we want to recognize its hurtful impact, learn from it, and create awareness. discussion to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is dedicated to creating stories with inspiring themes, which reflect the rich diversity of human experiences around the world. To learn more about how stories have impacted society , meeting on www.disney.com/StoriesMatter“.
Regarding The Aristocats, the firm goes further, evoking racist stereotypes towards the Asian community, in reference to the character / cat Shon Gon: “The cat is portrayed as a caricature of Asian populations, with exaggerated stereotypical features, such as slanted eyes and prominent teeth. He sings with a voice having a bad English accent, voiced by a white actor, and plays the piano with Chinese chopsticks This portrait reinforces clichés and stereotypes of the “perpetual stranger”, while the film features songs that mock Chinese language and culture, such as “Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egg Foo Young. Fortune cookie always wrong “.
What do you think of the Disney initiative? Justified, excessive?
As a reminder, last July we dedicated a Podcast to this wave of recontextualization of works, for better or for worse, in the company of Jean-François Halin, screenwriter, notably of the OSS 117 trilogy, and therefore of the next OSS 117: Red alert in Black Africa. And Claire Diao, author of the book Double wave (Éditions Au Diable Vauvert, 201), critic, pan-African film distributor and publication director and co-founder of Awotele.
You can listen to it again here:
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