Gravity Falls Creator Alex Hirsch revealed a number of memos he said he received from Disney regarding the age appropriateness of the show’s content.
As part of a series of threads celebrating the 10th anniversary of the animated series, which ran from 2012 to 2016 on the Disney Channel, the Gravity Falls creator – who in 2018 publicly made the leap from Disney to Netflix with an overall multi-year deal to produce both children’s and adult animations – tweeted a commented four-minute video detailing requests to remove or edit jokes, specific character sequences and interactions.
Hirsch said the notes were provided to him and that Gravity Falls by the studio’s standards and practices department, which, on a television network, is responsible for ensuring that programming meets the moral, ethical, and legal standards of the station on which it airs.
The video begins with the message: “The following are real emails from the Disney TV Standards and Practices Department.” It then proceeds directly into the requested changes, with exact page numbers and dates going back to September 2011, which Hirsch declined to do or disputed. This includes one on the use of the word “poop face” and the word “hoo-ha”.
“Please revise the poop face as it comes across as a replacement for ‘shit’. Mabel’s earlier use of saying ‘poop, poop and butts’ in the episode ‘Fight Fighters’ came across as more childish and not as offensive,” the reported S&P memo read, before another said, “It has come to our attention that ‘hoo -ha’ is a slang term for vagina. Please correct .”
Hirsch responded to the initial edit by dismissing the fact that any child watching would find the term “shitty face” offensive. As for ‘hoo-ha’, he writes, ‘it’s a proper word meaning excitement or fuss and that’s clearly its meaning here. The backdrop is an owl-themed restaurant called Hoo-Ha’s Jamboree. Do not change.
One last treat. Are you ever curious about the fights I had with the censors at Gravity Falls? I probably shouldn’t share this buttttt here are some REAL NOTES from DISNEY S&P and my REAL ANSWERS. you are not ready #10YearsOfGravityFalls pic.twitter.com/EioKU8gIJJ
— Alex Hirsch (@_AlexHirsch) June 16, 2022
The video features a number of notes related to adult understanding of terms or concepts applied in the context of a children’s program. This includes the use of crud to have “inappropriate slang definition” and “chub”, which appeared on a character’s “chub pup” t-shirt. According to the request, “the chub has a sexual connotation” – an edit for which Hirsch offered suggested alternatives after pointing out that it was referring to the stature of a dog. There’s even a note that a character dressing up as a teddy bear is potentially problematic because “it may remind people of dressing up as stuffed animals as a ‘furry’ fetish.”
The content flags weren’t just about potential sexual innuendo that younger audiences might not understand either. They also addressed the show’s cultural offensiveness or portrayal of the gay couple, which Hirsh has already publicly discussed on several occasions having to fight to show. (Notably, in 2021 he criticized Disney on social media for sell pride-related products while censoring LGBTQ representation on its shows.)
As for the duo, Sheriff Daryl Blubs and Deputy Durland, the Gravity Falls The team was asked to “Please review the action of Blubs putting his arm around Durland. As noted in previous concerns, their affectionate relationship should remain comedic rather than flirtatious.
He also asked Hirsch and the show’s writing staff to edit or remove the use of Lucifer and Holy Christmas on the grounds that they might be religiously offensive, with the former producing a response. long enough from the animation creator, who is currently producing. inner work at Netflix. He then ended it with a single question: “Why should we be held hostage by any imaginary career complainer who could possibly go out of his way to pretend to be offended by this?”
In a follow-up tweet to the video, Hirsch responds to one person by stating that the content of the video is just the “tip” of the iceberg, before revealing how even the show’s use of that word has been examined. “Brother, this is the tip of the iceberg”, he writes. “(Note that ‘tip’ sometimes refers to the tip of a penis. This has inappropriate connotations. Please revise).”
Hirsh isn’t the first animation creator to discuss the sometimes odd demands and censorship that can come from a network’s S&P department. In response to a Industry Workers 2021 Twitter Feed pointing out the puzzling and even comical things S&P departments had pointed out in the projects they were working on, OK KO let’s be heroes creator Ian Jones-Quartey pointed out how one of his series’ characters was allowed to appear on the hood of a moving car from the Cartoon Network series as long as he was wearing a seatbelt.
Annie and BAFTA award winner Gravity Falls debuted on Disney Channel on June 15, 2012, before ending in 2016. It would also air on DisneyXD beginning in 2014. The show followed twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, who – after being sent to spend the been with their great-uncle Stan in the Oregon town known as Gravity Falls runs his tourist trap The Mystery Shack – begins to investigate the town’s various local mysteries involving paranormal incidents and creatures supernatural.
The Hollywood Reporter has contacted Disney for comment.