Retouched version of Daryl Hannah’s body in ‘1, 2, 3 … Splash’ that can be seen on Disney +.
A good magician knows how to turn the gaze of the spectators to where he is interested in and thus carry out his trick without being discovered. At Disney they seem to have dominated the opposite in recent times. If there is something that interests them that goes unnoticed by the public or that they want to show as little as possible, the measures they take make it stand out even more. The company self-censors and its own customers are complaining. The latest detected by viewers, a digitally blurred neckline that appears in an old youth series on its traditional channel and has now been uploaded to its Disney + platform.
The pixelated of this neckline appears for a few seconds in the tenth episode of the second season of The Wizards of Waverly Place (2007-2012). It belongs to the actress María Canals-Barrera, who plays the mother of the protagonist, the star of the Disney factory Selena Gómez. It is not a striking neckline nor is its presence important in the plot. In its day it was already broadcast censored on the Disney Channel, the company’s analogue channel, without much relevance, but in times of streaming, with its content exposed to millions of people around the world, the scrutiny of viewers is voracious. They realize every last detail, be it their own previous censorship or a new one designed for the platform. “If Disney censors harmless items, what else could they censor?” Asked a user on Twitter earlier in the week.
Just over a month ago, Disney + committed a similar blunder with 1, 2, 3 … Splash, a 1984 movie about a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) and a man who finds her on a beach (Tom Hanks). In one sequence, Hannah, in human form, runs naked into the sea. Disney decided that the vision of the actress’ buttocks was too much for a platform that claims to be a family paradise and covered them (even more, in the original version the long hair already covered a lot) in digital form with what seems to be more hair. Complaints were not long in appearing on the networks and the users of the payment platform showed their disbelief at a fix labeled ridiculous and unnecessary.
The company has always reissued its content over time, but it is now with almost 55 million Disney + subscribers worldwide, with its content accessible in unison, when the popular debate about the suitability of these touches arises among its own consumers, for whom they are supposedly intended. In the home editions on VHS or DVD, Disney once withdrew some phrases or sequences from films such as Aladdin or The Little Mermaid that, after the theatrical release, seemed inappropriate to them.
Disney + sometimes does try to be transparent in its changes and warns that they have occurred and why. For example, he has removed from the movie Adventures in the Big City (1987) and the Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo (2018) all mentions of the word fuck (fuck) and has replaced them with other expressions. He has also cut racist jokes that appeared in films like Al loro con el oro (1967). In Who Framed Roger Rabbit they have covered some underwear that looked like the animated character of Jessica Rabbit and in the animated film Lilo & Stitch the door of a washing machine in which the protagonist girl was hiding has been replaced by a box of cardboard pizza to avoid giving the message to the little ones that it is safe to hide inside such a machine.
In a recent survey by the Journalistic consultancy for a large online store, 62% of the participants said they had no problem watching Disney movies with inappropriate topics and 18% were completely unaware of the existence of elements outdated by social advances. From a list of 10 classic films from the Disney factory whose themes represented a society less sensitive to racism, sexism or the appearance of elements such as tobacco or alcohol in children’s content, Dumbo was voted the most inappropriate, followed by Peter Bread and Beauty and the Beast.
A few months before the launch of its platform, Disney announced that it was going to delete problematic sequences in some of its older movies. In the end, in films such as Dumbo himself or The Lady and the Tramp, Disney + has put ads in the synopsis tab such as: “Includes images of tobacco use. This program is offered as originally intended. It may contain outdated cultural references ”. This is how Warner’s trail continues, who long ago chose not to touch up elements of the past in drawings such as the Looney Tunes (with Bugs Bunny, Lucas the duck, etc., and which were created in the thirties of the last century) and always notify before the vision that they do not share the values of a product from another era in which they were common. “Doing it differently would be the same as saying that these prejudices never existed,” always ends that notice.
User protests are sometimes heard. With Disney’s purchase of Fox, 30 seasons of The Simpsons landed on the platform. Within hours of the US premiere in November, fans of the animated series already realized that the older installments did not respect the original 4: 3 aspect ratio and had been deformed to a wide format. (thus losing some of the information on the screen). Numerous complaints arose and the company took note. From this Thursday, May 28, those more than 450 deformed episodes will be able to be seen in their original format. Listening to consumers can be another more sensible type of magic than diverting attention so that the trick is not discovered.