e117. Post-Release Censorship and the Disney Vault

There was a weird story that broke a few weeks ago when people discovered that episodes of the 2012 teen sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place had “censored” the cleavage of the mother on one episode by placing a blur over the actress’s chest on the Disney+ streaming service. After some investigation, it turned out that the blur had been there since the original airing and was not added for Disney+, but that still left the question “why?” Disney has actually done similar things in the past, notably digitally adding hair to obscure the main characters butt in the 1984 film Splash. They also have a long history of completely burying more embarrassing or problematic films from their past like 1946’s Song of the South. Similarly, another streaming service, HBOMax, recently temporarily removed classic film and 1936 Best Picture winner Gone with the Wind from their service in order to add an introduction that speaks to the movie’s cultural context and problematic history with race. Still other streaming services are removing episodes from TV shows that feature blackface or other racist elements. While the sudden attention to cultural sensitivity that we find ourselves experiencing in the current cultural moment is a good thing, is it really that simple? Obviously if you’ve listened to this show before, you know nothing ever is. On this week’s show Mav, Katya, Wayne and Hannah discuss what it means to make modifications to media after the fact in order to adjust to anachronistic time periods. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

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