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Disney Needs To Respect Its History (On Disney Plus)

Disney continues to disregard that which made Disney Disney. Disney+ started off great, but has become a disappointment to film historians and superfans.

Please welcome back guest writer Ethan Holloway!

Since its launch, Disney+ has offered hundreds if not thousands of titles available to stream to many Disney fans, but one big criticism of how Disney+ is run is the lack of legacy titles Disney has added over the past few years, so let me explain why Disney should use Disney+ as a way to preserve their legacy.

Big and Small Screen Legends Die Every Day

With the recent passings of Disney legends Tommy Kirk, Betty White, Louie Anderson, Bob Saget, Tim Considine you’d think a company like Disney would maybe do something like adding some content to commemorate their passings right? Well, you’d be dead wrong, unfortunately. When Betty White passed away Disney could have done something to remember her legacy like add her classic ABC sitcom to Disney+, you know, The Golden Girls, which is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

What we must remember is when directors, actors, comedians, musicians and writers pass away is that their fans want the legacy of these artists preserved for future generations to enjoy. Editor’s Note: DejaView has recently covered this issue well (1) (2).

There Are No Maturity Issues Anymore

Remember when Disney decided they would add the former Netflix Exclusive Marvel series to Disney+ in many countries including the US? Well, with Disney adding TV-MA/Rated R content to Disney+ in the US it means Disney now can’t use the excuse of classic 20th Century Studios, Touchstone Pictures, ABC or Hollywood Pictures content being “too mature” for Disney+.

Films like Touchstone’s Armageddon or Hollywood Pictures’ The Sixth Sense or more mature Marvel titles like Logan and the Deadpool movies all fit within Disney+’s newly updated parental controls. Remember the Defendersverse series include brutal violence, sex, drinking and swearing (Editor’s Note: Luke Cage even provides the first use of the “n” word on Disney+) so why not add more of their legacy films which they have full control of?

Disney’s Legacy IS The Legacy Of Film

Let’s move on to the final point, as Disney has been around for almost a century and gobbled up the 20th Century Fox assets a few years ago it has become clear that Disney’s legacy film library isn’t just the legacy of Disney, but the legacy of the entire film industry.

Remember films like the original Call Of The Wild film in 1935 which was made by 20th Century Pictures before they merged with the Fox Film Corporation? What about Disney’s classic Alice Comedies from the 1920s, now in the public domain and yet still un-streamable? Or the 1930 Fox Film Corporation film Soup To Nuts which was the first film appearance of The Three Stooges? Or the 20th Century Fox film from 1940 The Mark Of Zorro? Even the 1950 film Cheaper by the Dozen which just saw the release of its 2nd reboot last week? I think you get the picture.

Disney’s catalogue is huge and basically endless, so surely Disney can spare some more of their classic pre-1970s films for their streaming service right?

Michael Paull, former President of Disney+, ESPN+, current President of Disney Streaming: “No.”

Final Thoughts

Yes, I understand some of the older movies within Disney’s catalogue might have racist connotations but, Disney can just add a disclaimer to warn their subs about the imagery. Unfortunately whilst researching this article I uncovered several titles from the old 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation libraries have been lost to time.

A service like HBO Max has a rotating library of movies from Turner Classic Movies (pre-1986 MGM films, RKO Pictures library, pre-1950s Warner Bros movies), so why can’t Disney+ do something similar? However, instead of rotating these titles on and off of the service, Disney should offer all the titles in perpetuity.

As Disney+ continues to grow and add more content to its vast library I feel Disney needs to add some more of its legacy content. Disney could add somewhere between 1-10 legacy titles a week every week until they’ve uploaded its entire legacy library.

In my opinion, Disney should treat Disney+ as a sort of film and TV museum, you know a way to view the films and series from decades ago whether they be silent films, talkies, animation, live-action or hybrid. Not only should Disney do this, but this would be a huge step to preserving the legacy of film and making these titles available for future audiences too.

What do you think? Do you think Disney needs to respect its history better?

Ethan Holloway
Ethan Holloway
Freelance Writer | Website | + posts

An Autistic Disney, Marvel and Star Wars fan from England. Ethan is an advocate for equal representation in media for people of colour, LGBTQ+, women and people with disabilities. One day he'll be a published author mark his words, but for now, he covers Disney stuff.

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