Have you ever seen Disney‘s “Song of the South”? I haven’t and unless you’re a lot older than I am you likely haven’t either. However, you’ve probably heard of tales of Br’er Rabbit and gang, as well as heard the famous song “Zip a Dee Doo Dah”. If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom theme park, the ride Splash Mountain is based on these stories.
Disney had chosen not to release the movie because of its portrayal of southern black plantation workers. To offer a brief synopsis (gleaned from my own readings of Uncle Remus’ tales and other online summaries as I’ve never actually seen the film) Johnny goes to live with his grandparents in the deep south on their plantation. The white family lives in a large mansion while the blacks who work on the plantation live down the road in wooden shacks. Some objections arise over the fact that Remus is portrayed as a happy-as-can-be jolly old story teller.
I do hope that Disney does release the movie and we will likely buy it and show it to our kids. Does it promote negative stereotypes? I’m not sure that it promotes them. . .but the stereotypes are certainly in there. If you’ll allow me to digress for just a minute however, I want my kids to see the film and in fact, I’ve read the complete tales of Uncle Remus to them already.
A Piece of History
This film is historic in and of itself but it also represents an important piece of American culture and history. It was Disney’s first live action film that combined real actors and animation. So in the world of cinematography. . .it is a landmark. However, even more than that, it represents a period in our history as Americans. It represents certain stereotypes that were commonly held. Like all things that project a negative stereotype we always have the choice to accept it at face value or further investigate.