Streaming Platforms Revaluate Library of Classic Movies: ‘Minefields of Racism, Sexism, Homophobia’

Photo courtesy of IMDb – GONE WITH THE WIND

Streaming Platforms Revaluate Library of Classic Movies: ‘Minefields of Racism, Sexism, Homophobia’

By Movieguide® Staff

Disney, along with other studios, will consider purging offensive content from their library of content as they add content warnings and context panels to shows and movies.  

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney held its monthly conference with advisors to discuss their vast catalog of what they deem as offensive content.  

THR reported: “Disney convenes an eclectic group of advisers via videoconference to tell the media conglomerate what it and the many entertainment companies it has acquired over its nearly 100-year history have gotten wrong. It’s a long list. Song of the South. Jar Jar Binks. That episode of The Muppet Show where Johnny Cash sings a duet with Miss Piggy in front of a Confederate flag.”

Disney+ already added a content warning ahead of various episodes of THE MUPPET SHOW and never added their controversial 1946 flick SONG OF THE SOUTH. 

Read Also: Disney+ Issues’ Offensive Content’ Warning Ahead of Select Episodes of THE MUPPET SHOW

“We’ve had some very raw conversations on those Zooms,” Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association, who sits on Disney’s advisory council as a part of its Stories Matter Initiative, said

The panel also includes representatives from groups like the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. According to THR, Robertson and others watch Disney content that could contain stereotypes or insensitive imagery and advise the company based on their perspective. 

“They want to make up for any offensive messaging they may have been a part of,” Robertson says. “It feels sincere, and it’s also good business.”

As streaming services work to set themselves apart from the growing list of platforms, one distinguishing factor is the quantity of content from a long history of filmmaking. However, advisers like Robertson and a new Hollywood brand focused on inclusivity and diversity see the content as potentially problematic.  

“You attract subscribers with original shows, but you retain them with library content,” Alejandro Rojas, Parrot’s director of applied analytics, said. “These are valuable properties that you cannot just disregard. You want to keep them, but you have to make sure they don’t damage the brand.” 

However, many diversity and inclusion advisors and departments see this as an issue. 

“But these decades-old archives also are minefields of racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bias that were publicly acceptable in the eras in which the content originally was produced,” the THR claims.  

While some studios are simply adding content warnings ahead of particular shows or movies, others have taken a more assertive stance.  

WarnerMedia’s classic TV network, TCM, contextualizes their older content through new series such as REFRAMED: CLASSIC FILMS IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR.  

“Nobody’s canceling these movies,” TCM host Ben Mankiewicz said. “Our job is not to get up and say, ‘Here’s a movie that you should feel guilty about for liking.’ But to pretend that the racism in it is not painful and acute? No. I do not want to shy away from that. This was inevitable. And welcomed. And overdue.”

Other studios are more readily considering the complete deletion of certain movies and TV. 

However, as Movieguide® reports, Hollywood’s new push for inclusion threatens to revise history. 

Movieguide® previously reported: “Although proponents for diversity often view the word ‘diversity’ as a value or moral, the reality is that it is a description and cannot be held up to or compared to the values upheld in scripture like truth, goodness, and love that are the real winners at the box office.”

One example came when WarnerMedia reevaluated its classic movie and one of the most successful movies of all time, GONE WITH THE WIND. 

Movieguide® previously reported

GONE WITH THE WIND will return to HBO Max after a brief hiatus from the new streaming platform after concern that the movie “romanticized the horrors of slavery.”

To pivot accordingly, HBO Max added a disclaimer before the movie, per screenwriter John Ridley’s op-ed (12 YEARS A SLAVE).

“The new version includes a 4-1/2 minute introduction from Turner Classic Movie’s Jacqueline Stewart, professor of cinema and film studies at the University of Chicago,” CNN reported.

In her talk, Stewarts says, “Watching GONE WITH THE WIND can be uncomfortable, even painful. Still, it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.”

Movieguide® believes that God’s Word should be the lens through which every movie is evaluated. Unfortunately, the new model that many studios have adopted neglects a large portion of immoral and anti-Christian content.  

When the only signifier of morality is based on someone’s skin tone or gender, it becomes easy to push the boundaries of immorality in movies and television under the guise of tolerance and inclusion.