Remember that big ol’ Imperial Cruiser that fills the screen at the beginning of the original Star Wars movie? Yeah, that’s a little like what the coming of Disney+ felt like yesterday.
More than 10 million people have already subscribed to Disney’s new streaming service in its first 24 hours—a pretty good start, considering analysts thought it might hit between 10 to 18 million subscriptions in its first year. It’s not breathing down Netflix’s neck just yet, given that the latter boasts about 158 million paying subscribers, but Disney+’s numbers out of the gate have still been impressive. And while The Mandalorian—the service’s flagship show—has already been streamed 2 million times according to folks in the know (not counting several pirated copies already floating about), many viewers may be engaging with some of the quirkier offerings that the Mouse House has made available. (Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire, anyone? How ‘bout The Cat from Outer Space?)
But the launch didn’t come without trouble.
Lots of users—including your friendly neighborhood Plugged In Mandalorian reviewer—were forced to watch error messages instead of the 1940 version of the Swiss Family Robinson. Disney said the glitches were our fault: “The consumer demand for Disney Plus has exceeded our high expectations,” the entertainment company said in a statement yesterday morning. Many experts shrugged off the opening-day glitch as a “mild disruption,” and it’s not like everything Disney does goes gangbusters right away. The opening of Disneyland back in 1955 was apparently called “Black Sunday.”
But it’s not just subscribers failing to see anything on Disney+ that’s been an issue. Sometimes, people have problems with what they are seeing. For instance, some of the corporation’s beloved classic cartoons have, er, uncomfortable elements in them. In fact, some have been given a warning label, cautioning users of their “outdated cultural depictions.” (Disney’s most problematic films, such as 1946’s Song of the South, remain safely shelved in Disney’s vaults.)
And then there’s yet a new edit of one of the most infamous scenes in Star Wars lore—the scene where Han Solo shoots fellow bounty hunter Greedo with a blaster. In the original films, Han shot first (which has become a rallying cry amongst passionate Star Wars purists), but creator George Lucas edited the scene in 1997 to make it look as though Greedo was the initial aggressor. Now, on the Disney+ version, the two shoot at the same time, and Greedo mysteriously says “Maclunkey.” We’ll keep you updated on this scandal as it unfolds.
Other folks have also fretted about unwanted editing. Letitia Wright, an outspoken Christian who plays Black Panther’s smart little sister Shuri in Disney’s Marvel movies, says that journalists have edited out mentions of her Christian faith during interviews. The Federalist complains that NBC has edited any semblance of patriotism out of its Sunday Night Football theme song. And when John Legend released a new version of the classic, controversial Christmas song “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” some were less than impressed.
But hey, sometimes editing is a good thing! Take the redesign of the movie version of Sonic the Hedgehog. As you might recall, Paramount’s first version of the Sega video game mascot was met with everything from smirks to squeals of terror. Paramount took note, took an eraser to its version of Sonic and turned it into something much more … well, like Sonic.
Speaking of change, Kanye West is considering changing his name to “Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West,” but just for a year—long enough, apparently, for everyone to understand that he is a Christian and genius and billionaire. (Speaking of Kanye, Christianity Today has a nice piece on the surprising relevance of his Sunday Service.)
It’d hardly be a Culture Clips blog without mentioning Facebook at least twice, so here they are: Good news! Facebook announced a recent initiative to partner with journalists. Bad news! Facebook may be secretly watching you while you scroll through your feed. (It’d be nicely ironic if that story was broken by a journalist partnering with Facebook, but that’s too much to ask.)
While we’re on the subject of partnerships, Emma Watson recently announced that she wasn’t single: Rather, she was “self-partnered,” and doing just fine with that, thanks. Meanwhile, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah is speaking against co-habitation—including if the prospective co-habitors are married. (“I think one of the biggest reasons people get divorced and relationships break up is because of this co-habiting [expletive] that we’ve come to believe is the way relationships are supposed to be,” he told Howard Stern.) And, since we’re talking about relational norms, we might as well mention here that one in five teens reportedly changes their sexual orientation in adolescence.
Finally, let’s end with the nicest Final Jeopardy answer/question you’re likely to see.
As you might know, longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek told the world this March that he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and he admits that both the cancer and treatments have been painful and caused him to suffer from depression. During the final segment of a recent Jeopardy episode—in which contestants was supposed to give the title of a “groundbreaking 1890 expose of poverty in New York City slums,” Dhruv Gaur instead wrote “What is … we love you, Alex.” Trebek, normally unflappable, choked up a bit. “That’s very kind,” he said, before moving on.
Here’s the full clip:
Yep, more than 10 million people saw that Disney+ had something they wanted, and they were willing to spend $6.99 a month to get it. But what we all could really use is just a little more love.