Many parents are outraged over Disney’s decision to add adult content to its streaming platform, citing Disney’s promise not to include such content and pointing out that Disney has broken that promise and thus violated parents’ trust.
Last week, Disney announced that adult content would be added to the Disney+ platform, meaning that any viewer, regardless of age (given that the viewer can operate a remote), would be able to stream the R-rated content if desired. (Note: Unless rating restrictions are selected in the settings of a subscriber’s account, all available content is streamable.)
The announcement not only surprised many subscribers but it concerned many and even enraged some.
On Friday, Disney made good on its promise to deliver adult content as Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Logan became streamable on Disney+, but according to a parents’ advocacy group, Disney broke its promise to families.
According to MovieWeb, the Parent Television and Media Council, or PTC, has called out Disney for straying from its commitment to maintaining a streaming environment that’s safe for families and for breaking its promise to subscribers about the kinds of content it would not include on the Disney+ platform. In a statement, PTC President Tim Winter accused Disney of lying to patrons:
“Three years ago, the Walt Disney Company made a promise to families. No R-rated movies on Disney+, they said. It’s a family-focused platform, they said. We have Hulu for our edgier adult fare, they said. It turns out they were lying to us. After decades of corporate brilliance establishing itself as the world’s most trusted brand for families, today’s C-level suite at Disney has decided to flush it all down the toilet.”
Winter continued by saying that parental controls are not enough, as the content itself represents a violation of trust.
“While Disney+ points subscribers to its parental controls, the mere presence of R-rated and TV-MA rated content violates the trust and sensibilities of families,” he explained. “What took decades to build is now taking mere months to erase.”
Since it first launched in 2019, Disney+ “has focused its US content on titles for the whole family, rated PG-13 and below,” according to CNN Business.
Before the roll-out of Disney+ on November 12, 2019, announcements from The Walt Disney Company about the new platform set many parents’ and grandparents’ minds at ease, such as the company’s promise to make Disney+ a family-friendly place for entertainment, according to What’s on Disney Plus:
“Ever since Disney announced its new streaming service, Disney+, in November last year, they’ve been very clear on the messaging that it will be a family-focused product.”
In fact, Disney was specific about the types of content that would and would not be included on the platform in an effort to keep its commitment to maintaining that safe-for-families streaming environment:
“It’s been no secret that Disney+ won’t include any movies over the PG-13 rating, and it’s been confirmed that TV shows will go up to a TV14 rating since there is a wide range of National Geographic shows listed as coming to Disney+ with that rating.”
But each of the new additions to the platform bares a rating of R.
Disney’s heavy investments in the Hulu platform were reportedly a part of that commitment as well. Hulu would provide a place for more adult-oriented content, including “less family-friendly franchises like Deadpool, Family Guy, Die Hard, Aliens, Predator, and more, in addition to all of its shows on FX,” according to What’s On Disney Plus.
Shortly after the R-rated content was added to Disney+, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds took to social media, suggesting (tongue in cheek) that Disney should have R-ratings on some of its most beloved classics because they cause “trauma.” He gives the example of the killing of Bambi’s mother, “polyandry” in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and more.
PTC President Tim Winter says decisions like these will be Disney’s downfall.
“One day in the not-too-distant future, business schools will point back to this abrupt corporate U-turn as they analyze what happened to the once-great Walt Disney Company,” Winter said. “And in the meantime, families will continue to be woefully underserved by Hollywood.”