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Peter Jackson Refused Disney’s Request to Remove Swearing from The Beatles: Get Back


It is no secret that Disney has a very stringent view on nudity and bad language in their Disney+ output even more so than their movies, perhaps too stringent in some cases with social media picking up on the pixelation of cleavage and bare bottoms in certain shows and movies. But when it came to toning down the swearing in his new documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson refused to follow Disney’s request to remove all bad language at the insistence of the band’s remaining members and the family of George Harrison.

Jackson has spent a lot of time restoring footage from a pivotal point in the pop group’s history, and wanting to create an accurate and detailed documentary of the events depicted in the three part event series is seems only right that it should be shown as it happened, and that was how the band saw it as the director revealed. As Peter Jackson told NME:

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“Disney wanted to remove all the swearing. And Ringo [Starr], Paul [McCartney] and [George Harrison’s widow] Olivia said: ‘That’s how we spoke. That’s how we talked. That’s how we want the world to see us.’ The truthfulness of it is important to them. They don’t want a whitewash. They don’t want it to be sanitized.”

Jackson went on to say that Sir Paul McCartney described the finished documentary as “very raw” and “a very accurate portrayal of how we were then.” When presenting the series to the band members, Jackson was pleasantly surprised that the note to keep the swearing in was the only recommendation they had.

“When they got to see the finished thing, I was expecting notes. It would’ve just been normal to get a note saying: ‘Oh, that bit where I say that — could you cut that out?’ Or, ‘Could you shorten the conversation there?’ And I didn’t get a single note. Not one request to do anything. One of them said that they watched it and found it one of the most stressful experiences of their entire life, [then said] ‘but I’m not gonna give you any notes.’”

Disney made a big deal of launching their Disney+ platform as a “family friendly” concern just over two years ago, with their main content under the Disney banner being devoid of swearing, nudity, sex and anything that is overtly violent, although they have made the odd exception when it comes to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe output and also the arrival of Hamilton on the platform, with both containing some moderate swearing, which with a 12A rating most people would expect.

While Disney does have a hand in more adult-orientated content, particularly in the wake of their Fox merger, which brought franchises like Alien and Die Hard under their banner, this content has been put out on the Hulu platform and Star in international territories where Hulu isn’t available. And this in itself makes a peculiar quandary due to the disjointed nature between Disney+ in the U.S. and a large chunk of the rest of the world.

For viewers in the U.K. and most of Europe in particular, “Disney+” comes with Star built in, meaning that for many, Disney is already putting out adult-themed movies and shows on their platform, as their home screen includes highlights from all areas which includes shows like The Walking Dead. For the U.S. it is a different matter as that same content is a completely separate entity on Hulu, so the Disney+ platform itself remains “pure”.

For this reason tension behind the scenes between executive of the board Bob Iger and current CEO Bob Chapek over their reportedly contrasting opinions of whether the Disney+ platform should remain family friendly is a strange one considering for much of the world the issue doesn’t exist. You can find The Beatles: Get Back on Disney+ now.


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