Disney's plan to partner with HBO Max ‘akin to putting Playboy Mansion inside gates of Disneyland’

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Disney has been urged to scrap its plan for a streaming bundle that includes HBO Max amid concerns over sexually explicit content. The Parents Television and Media Council warns that adding HBO Max is akin to “putting the Playboy Mansion in Disneyland” and exposing children to graphic material like that found in shows like “Euphoria” and “The Idol.”

PTC’s Melissa Henson criticized the move in a statement, noting that it undermines trust. “This entirely inappropriate partnership will give children access to some of the most sexually explicit, graphically violent, and profane content available on streaming platforms today, and will further alienate families that have trusted Disney,” she said.

Henson drew attention to Disney’s shift towards R- and TV-MA-rated content and its association with executives pushing sexual themes in children's programming.

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“Max programs and its weak parental controls have enabled children to access some of the most explicit streaming content on the market, including 'Euphoria,' which has featured statutory rape and sexual exploitation, illicit drug abuse, graphic teen sex, and pornography use — all portrayed as a normal part of the teenage experience, and 'The Idol,' cited as ‘pornographic,’ a ‘sordid male fantasy,’ a ‘darker, crazier, and more risqué version’ of 'Euphoria,'” Henson said.

PTC’s statement cited a Rasmussen Reports poll revealing that 71% of American adults support Disney reverting to family-friendly content and leaving decisions on sexual education to parents.

The PTC, a “nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization advocating responsible entertainment” that seeks to “protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media,” called on Disney to abandon the HBO Max partnership to protect its family image and audience.

Last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger asserted that the company doesn't sexualize children and encourages parents to seek alternative programming options for their children.

In an interview with The Christian Post at the time, PTC’s Henson responded to Iger’s claims.

“Going back decades, programs on the Disney Channel that were targeted to preteens emphasized romantic relationships, even though the target audience was [children aged] 8, 9, 10 [and] 11,” she said. Henson lamented the efforts to introduce a “boyfriend, girlfriend element” to shows directed at preteens, noting that it's “not necessarily top of mind” for children in that age group.

Henson explained that content produced by Disney extends beyond the Disney Channel to other outlets owned by the company, including FX.

Henson identified “A Teacher,” an FX miniseries she summarized as documenting an “illicit relationship” between a teacher and a high school student and “Little Demon,” a series that aired on Disney-owned FXX derided by the advocacy group One Million Moms as a promotion of “demons, witches and sorcery” featuring “graphic violence and nudity” as more recent examples of programs that sexualize children. She pointed to the aforementioned programs as part of a “long list of content” produced by Disney that sexualizes children.

“It’s just not true what Bob Iger said,” she proclaimed.

Iger’s claim came three months after PTC spearheaded a petition with more than 10,000 signatures asking Disney’s board of directors to halt the company’s production of sexually explicit content.

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