By Ron Wynn
Any parents concerned about the impact of stereotyped images or portrayals on such Disney + rebroadcasts as “The Muppet Show” can be reassured their fears have been addressed. The network is issuing disclaimers on several programs done in earlier eras. The most recent comes on Jim Henson’s classic “The Muppet Show.” It began streaming on Disney+ last Friday, but as of this week is prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it,+
+ and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.” The show ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981. The warning comes on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.
Each carries the 12-second disclaimer for different reasons. They range from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Two episodes from the final season featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham have been omitted.
Last year disclaimer warnings were added to Disney films like “Peter Pan,” “Aladdin,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Aristocats,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Dumbo” and “Swiss Family Robinson” for similar depictions of stereotypes. “Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe,” the disclaimer continues before redirecting viewers to the company’s Stories Matter initiative.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are in the process of reviewing our library and adding advisories to content that includes negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures,” a statement on the Stories Matter site says. “Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all. We also want to acknowledge that some communities have been erased or forgotten altogether and we’re committed to giving voice to their stories as well.”
The Los Angeles Times were the first publication to report on this latest Disney + development.