Lilly Singh Eviscerates the Disney+ Content Warnings

The streaming wars just got ugly, with Disney+ posing a potential threat to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The new streaming service has gotten so much attention — thanks in part to the success of The Mandalorian — it only feels right for late-night personalities to take it down a peg or two. Case in point, Lilly Singh is locked and loaded.

Lilly Singh on the red carpet
Lilly Singh on the red carpet | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for REVOLT

Disney’s more dated material

Disney+ features a wide range of content that includes Disney animation, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars movies and shows. But what it doesn’t offer is some of the more problematic projects Disney has released over the years. So don’t get your hopes up if you want to see Song of the South for yourself.

Avoiding such blatantly controversial titles such as this is probably a smart move, given the more socially conscious environment we live in. Yet, this hasn’t stopped Disney from posting other classics within the Disney+ library. Namely, films like Dumbo and Lady and the Tramp — which prominently feature racist stereotypes — are easily accessible.

Of course, those latter titles don’t feature dated depictions nearly as much as something like Song of the South. So, rather than cutting the crows from Dumbo, Disney simply lists a disclaimer prior to certain releases. As these content warnings state, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

Lilly Singh takes on Disney’s content warnings

On her NBC series A Little Late with Lilly Singh, the host offered her own takedown of Disney’s content warnings. Singh started by mocking the “outdated” racism of the films bearing the disclaimer. “‘Outdated’ because we all know racism is dead in 2019, right?” she quipped. “I mean, just check my YouTube comments.”

Then in a segment called “Even More Disney Warnings,” Singh brought up other films currently on Disney+ that similarly deserve warnings of their own. Some of her suggestions are clearly jokes, such as Toy Story 2‘s tendency to make dads cry and Frozen‘s potentially life-ruining music. Singh even points out the issue of consent at the heart of Sleeping Beauty.

How should Disney handle its outdated content?

Although the segment goes for laughs, there is a legitimate point underscoring Singh’s comments. Disney’s content warning may be a well-intentioned effort to avoid negative pushback from subscribers. But it also positions the studio as the arbiter of what is and isn’t considered offensive.

After all, as Singh calls out, some might consider Sleeping Beauty an affront to woman’s rights. Certainly, fairy tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella aren’t exactly glowing examples of female representation. So why are these films unworthy of even a content warning, while Disney itself labels other projects as outdated?

In these more progressive times, the question of how much responsibility studios like Disney must carry with regards to their older content will likely keep springing up. But since Disney+ specifically targets families, the potential impact is much greater. Where is the line between what is and is not acceptable in 2019, according to Disney?