UK Broadcast Network Sky Adds Disclaimers to 'Aladdin', 'The Last Samurai', and More Warning Viewers of "Outdated Attitudes"
Sky, the United Kingdom’s largest pay-TV broadcaster, has added new disclaimers in front of movies like Aladdin, The Last Samurai, The Jungle Book, Flash Gordon, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s to warn potential viewers that the films contain “outdated attitudes” that could end up offending them. Could this become common practice in the United States, too?
The Hollywood Reporter says that Comcast-owned UK broadcast company Sky has added disclaimers to several of the films on the Sky Cinema channel, warning viewers that “this film has outdated attitudes, language and cultural depiction, which may cause offense today.”
“Sky is committed to supporting anti-racism and improving diversity and inclusion both on and off screen,” a Sky representative told THR. “We constantly review all content on Sky’s owned channels and will take action where necessary including adding additional information for our customer to allow them to make an informed decision when deciding what films and TV shows to watch.”
Jeremy Darroch, the CEO of Sky Group, said recently, “I have listened to the views of our colleagues at Sky. What I have heard loud and clear is that we can and should do more to support the fight against racial injustice. We stand with our Black colleagues and…are committing to do more to tackle racism, provide more support to communities impacted by racism and create a more diverse and inclusive culture at Sky. To make changes that really matter we will spend much more time listening and taking advice from those who understand the issues. We will work together with our Black and minority ethnic colleagues and with external advisors to support real change, and we will use the power of Sky’s voice and reach to highlight racial injustice in the U.K. and around the world.”
As we’ve been saying here at /Film for a while, the ideal situation in these scenarios would be to have a film critic or historian record a video introduction explaining the scenarios in question and providing historical context; no one is ever going to fully excuse those moments, but being able to properly contextualize them seems like a small step forward instead of having people be totally blindsided by them. But from a pure business standpoint, it’s way cheaper to add a few lines of text than to pay a critic or historian to record movie-specific intros for the tons of moments that might make modern audiences do a double-take.
Could these new Sky disclaimers foretell what may happen in the U.S.? Sky is owned by Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal and is about to launch Peacock to nationwide audiences on July 15. I could easily see that service featuring similar messages attached to its library of streaming titles. Disney+ already has messages attached to certain items on its own streaming service which read, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” Interestingly, Aladdin does not currently have any such message attached on Disney+. But still, in an era in which companies are at least claiming to do the work of being sensitive to these types of issues, I wonder how widespread this practice will become. Will Comcast add these types of messages in front of reruns of programs on NBC, for example? Pardon the pun, but it seems like the sky’s the limit.
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