Unlike Disney, we are passionately against censorship in most cases. This article contains strong language. Viewer discretion advised.
Fascinating information came out a couple weeks ago that The Beatles: Get Back does not include a rating on Disney+ USA. Let’s unpack how this simple action completely destroys 2 years of Disney’s USA content strategy and brings new light to their inappropriate censorship and sanitzation of content.
In other countries, the title is rated 16+ (a rating USA does not have). If one were to travel to another country, such as the UK, and login to their account it would pop up an alert that it noticed you are traveling. And If one were to search for the Beatles: Get Back, one might be interested to note the title is not available because it requires upping one’s parental controls to a rating higher than the US has access to. Cool.
In other words, the title is the US equivalent to TV-MA or Rated R for films. Fun fact: USA has one of the worst ratings systems on Earth with TV and film rating systems not lining up and including confusing age gaps such as PG-13 to Rated R (18) and TV-14 to TV-MA (17) vs the consistent 12+, 14+, 16, 18+ used in other countries.
Disney+ USA Doesn’t Allow Adult Content
If you’re one of the many online wondering how a TV-MA title could stream on Disney+, a service which infamously restricts its content to TV-14 or below… you’re not alone. We have the answer. Disney cheated their own system and didn’t rate it. Disney knew the rating would exceed the allowed TV-14 so they just… didn’t rate it. There is no requirement for TV or films to be rated. TV ratings are notoriously inconsistent because each network sets their own standards. They won’t display The Beatles rating because it breaks their platform.
Disney’s choice to break their own system by adding this Peter Jackson-directed Beatles docuseries with nothing but a disclaimer that it contains tobacco and strong language exposes how pointless and flawed their USA Strategy is for consumers. We think of it less as a strategy and more of a smooch on Comcast’s forehead while simultaneously shooting itself in the foot.
Hulu was supposed to be where “mature content” went. This title should have gone to Hulu in USA. Not “should have” as in we wanted it to, but should as in that’s literally how Disney’s execs have pushed and explained the service’s terrible content split since 2019. Disney has now destroyed their own argument for the content split existing.
Dispelling The Comcast Myth / Excuse
The refusal to allow TV-MA / R content on Disney+ USA is wildly unpopular. Easily the biggest complaint and flaw with the service is the babysitter strategy (to borrow a popular phrase online) employed by Michael Paull’s Disney Streaming team. The number one thing almost all analysts agree on is Disney+ will never truly be #1 in the USA against Netflix and even HBO Max until they unlock the service‘s full potential and treat it like every other company treats their services.
Since launch people have asked – nay, demanded! – for Hulu to convert to licensed content and Live TV while Disney+ reclaims the only ~350 Disney-distributed titles on Hulu. Of course anyone who brings this up on Reddit or Twitter faces mansplaining about how “Comcast owns 33 percent of Hulu and won’t let Disney take things off the service until 2024.” This is of course absolute bullshit.
Ways Disney+ Can Improve Toxic Relationship With Hulu
All content is licensed for a set period of time and expires. When that time comes Disney is free to license it to Disney+. Comcast does not control Disney’s owned titles. This past summer we gained When Sharks Attack (Seasons 1-6) from Hulu as it expired.
Since launch Disney has also shown they can also license content to stream in both places. We’ve seen this for many Disney Junior, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Nat Geo titles including some of the currently duplicated: KC Undercover, Future-Worm!, Marvel’s The Runaways, Gravity Falls, Doc McStuffins, Apollo: Back to the Moon, and Star vs The Forces of Evil.
Furthermore, we’ve watched titles leave Hulu altogether when they expire such as this summer’s loss of Fox series Stacked and The Loop. Ergo, the argument that Comcast won’t allow Disney to remove or share titles is laughable. Disney could do a lot more than they are. We just watched 10 titles the past 2 months expire and get renewed… The people in charge are confused.
Bingeable TV Is Essential To A Good Streaming Service
Hulu’s overall library size exceeds 2,500 titles. Disney’s owned content is less than 10 percent of that. The idea that removing only 10-20 popular binge shows to make Disney+ USA library respectable would hurt the Hulu valuation is nonsense. Hulu is loaded with series.
Pushing family friendly titles like Ugly Betty, MASH, Golden Girls, and Doogie Howser to Disney+ would practically go unnoticed to Hulu but dramatically improve Disney’s uselessly barren TV library in the USA and increase usage of app. Look no further than international trending lists which usually include bingeable television series. The monthly and annual Nielsen streaming lists also showcase just how necessary bingeable TV series are on streaming.
Between Disney+’s current allergy to binge TV and Hulu’s unnecessary hoarding of titles, Disney+ pales in comparison to Netflix, HBO Max, and even Paramount+. Which brings us back to The Beatles: Get Back.
Censorship Is No Longer Excusable
From this point forward, nobody should accept the maturity ratings cap in the USA or Latin America. It is meaningless. If Disney wants they can put The Beatles up with a “disclaimer” that airs beforehand and let the “f-bombs” fly? This means that Disney censoring the iconic production Hamilton is even more tasteless than it originally seemed. Lin-Manuel Miranda went to great lengths to lessen his art just to fit within Disney’s constraints.
Constraints we now know are unnecessary.
At this point Hamilton should be uncensored and people should be campaigning for this. Why can’t Hamilton receive the same unrated treatment? 2.5 F-bombs is a lot less than they allowed the Beatles… They could stream both versions (Whoa, what a concept!) using their new VERSIONS tab which thus far has only been utilized for IMAX films.
Disney+ Censorship Is Sexist, Uneven
In addition to Hamilton, Disney forced Taylor Swift to bleep her use of the the word “Fuck” in folklore: the long pond studio sessions. Why can The Beatles swear but Taylor Swift cannot? This is the question posed by others too. There are sexist undertones to Disney requiring Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift to sanitize their performances while allowing The Beatles free rein.
This guy knows what’s up.
Chrispeare does not mince words.
Twitter user MattShiv rightfully wonders about the “forced edits” on modern day megastars Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish’s Disney+ originals.
Twitter User “Oops! All Tonberries” (uh oh) is annoyed by the double standard faced by Taylor Swift.
It’s impossible to mention Disney’s sexist censorship without mentioning 2 of the 3 titles they controversially censored in 2019 and 2020: Adventures in Babysitting and Splash. In both cases Disney has stubbornly refused to add proper copies of these films as envisioned by their directors, instead opting for sanitized TV Edits. HBO recently exhibited considerable more respect towards their subscribers by acknowledging and fixing a mistake where a TV Edit of Birds of Prey was added to HBO Max.
Badly Altered Cut: Adventures in Babysitting
Adventures in Babysitting is rated PG-13 and features an iconic 80s quote: “Don’t fuck with the babysitter.” Disney shamelessly censors this to be “don’t fool with the babysitter,” ruining a pivotal moment in the film. Since Elisabeth Shue is a woman, she like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish are forbidden from using the f-bomb on Disney+?
Badly Altered Cut: Splash
Splash also provides a distinct look into Disney’s sexist sanitzation present on Disney+. Variety reported that Hugh Jackman’s naked butt is uncensored in PG-13 X-Men film, X:Men: Days of Future Past.
If that seems like a strange report, here’s why. Guess what happens in Splash when Daryl Hannah’s booty is in the frame. You guessed it! They add horrible CG hair (which has become an ongoing thing journalists have called them out for and lead to much ridicule) or they crop it out!
What would society become if girls grew up loving their bodies?
It would be so unsettling, so thank goodness the old men at Disney ensured that young girls would not be able to see a butt while watching Splash with their totally rad parents. We need to make sure it’s only men’s butts they see! Girls belong on a pedestal, like the shiny objects they are, only to be seen by their husbands.
The bad press received for this would have pressured most company’s to do the right thing, but Disney appears shameless. They take pride in these edits, having responded in the past to journalists that “they were intended.”
Disney’s Censorship Is Dangerous
This is a FAR CRY from WarnerMedia’s superior response provided by Johanna Fuentes when the TV Edit of Birds of Prey arrived on HBO Max. Disney doesn’t mind taking dangerous steps towards revisionist history. As Disney stops licensing their content out and inevitably reduces home media and VOD we’re looking at a future where Disney, a company known for sanitizing art, to control what forms of that art are appropriate for adults to see.
They’ve ignored tons of articles over (we’ll share them at the end of article) the past couple years, why change now? Well, The Beatles shows that they CAN.
Full disclosure: It’s not ALWAYS women. Disney’s other tacky censorship is found in the award-winning National Geographic documentary Free Solo. Despite its PG-13 rating Disney insisted on adding the TV edit which eliminates the word “fuck.” Believe it or not, the Hulu version used the same edit. It’s just insulting. TV Edits have no business on streaming.
Will Disney Fix Their Unnecessarily Censored Titles?
We think Disney will remain cocky and stubborn and maintain the censorship in Free Solo, Splash, Adventures in Babysitting, and Hamilton as well as Taylor and Billie’s songs, keeping them from being properly presented.
We will remain staunchly opposed to their behavior and noisy about it.
It will never make sense why The Beatles can stream in a secret void “outside” the allowed ranged of ratings on the service. It will never make sense why women seem to be particularly victims to their censorship (or does it…? Does it make perfect sense…?)
All we know is the “special treatment” for the Beatles in the USA and Latin America shows Disney has no excuse moving forward to suggest “Hulu is for adult content in USA.” They proved that if they wanted they could add adult content right now.
Deadpool and Logan could be streaming with “warnings” (ick) just like The Beatles.
Stay on them with respectfully written tweets and feedback. http://Help.DisneyPlus.com / give feedback. Send them this article — Over 63% want TV-MA / R. https://variety.com/vip/disney-must-tweak-its-content-strategy-heres-how-1235122278/
We’re gonna end with a big YOWZA here…
- Women can’t say “fuck” on Disney+, but they will bend over backwards to let “Beatles.”
- Between the Star brand tile internationally and The Beatles: Get Back, the Hulu and Disney+ split of adult content is no longer defensible.
- Content creators – take your work elsewhere. Until Disney adds adult content in USA (properly) and uncensors the titles we’ve mentioned – just run. Netflix, Prime Video, and HBO Max will take care of you.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.