Story at a glance

  • Select episodes of ‘The Muppet Show’ will include a label warning viewers of inappropriate content.
  • This follows other streaming platforms including disclaimers on some of its content depicting racist themes and stereotypes.

Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+, updated one of its programs to include a warning that the program contains negative cultural stereotypes.

The Los Angeles Times reports that The Muppet Show will contain a content warning, reading that: “This programme includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now.”

The show was created in 1976. Some scenes reportedly depict American singer Johnny Cash singing in front of a Confederate flag — a symbol that harkens to the U.S.’s history of legal and institutionalized slavery.

Other scenes from The Muppet Show under scrutiny for racial insensitivity include content featuring guests like Steve Martin, Cleo Laine, Spike Milligan, Debbie Harry and Kenny Rogers.

Other streaming platforms, like HBO GO, have faced the problem of hosting films and shows on their platform that are dated and reinforce racist stereotypes. In June 2020, HBO’s online site decided to temporarily remove the classic film “Gone with the Wind” and reinstate it with a similar content warning. 

“Gone with the Wind” is set in the southern U.S. during both the antebellum and Reconstruction Era amid the Civil War. Its depictions of slavery and Black Americans garnered intense criticism, particularly during the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020.

“Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together,” the disclaimer continues. 

Disney+ has taken similar steps prior to The Muppet Show edits, adding disclaimers to classic Disney films like “Aladdin,” “The Jungle Book,” “Peter Pan,” “The Aristocats,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Dumbo” and “Swiss Family Robinson.”

In deciding which films need a content warning, Disney consults with organizations including the GLAAD Media Institute, Define American, the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). 

Published on Feb 22, 2021