Tuesday, July 15, 2008
SONG OF THE SOUTH
When I was a kid I loved the Disney movie Song of the South. I actually don't really even remember what it was about, but I remember loving the music and the scenery. It was a very eye catching film with lots of different plots. When I looked up the origins of the film I found out some interesting things. The film was created in 1946 and it mixed animation with live actors. The story was based on stories told to "Uncle Remus" who was Joel Chandler Harris. He grew up during the Civil war in Georgia. During that time he wrote down tales and stories that were told to him by former slaves. These stories, many of which were told to him by an old black man called "Uncle George" were first published as columns in the Atlanta Constitution and were later syndicated nation wide and published in a book. The Atlanta Constitution is a major daily newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia. According to Wikipedia "The film has never been released on home video in the USA because of content which Disney executives believe would be construed by some as racially insensitive towards blacks and is thus subject to much rumor, although it does exist on home video in the UK and Japan." The story does take place on a plantation in the south and does depict slaves and "tar baby" an old decoy for Brer Rabbit sitting on a fence.
As I look back as a kid seeing this movie, I do recall knowing the difference between what was portrayed in the movie as a historical setting vs. how life is was for me as a kid in the 70's. Racial struggles were still rampant in America in the 70's but I know that I knew that things were indeed different. However, I lived in the west, Utah, where there were and are still very few black people. I still sing Zippety Doo Dah in the car on long trips and wonder if we can appreciate the historical setting and somewhat positive message in the film without the sensitivity factor determining the shelving of what I think is a beautiful film. It is actually quite progressive for the time period. The children love uncle Remus and he is their best friend...so I am throwing it out there to you good folks...Is this movie racially insensitive or is it mimicking a time in American history in art form?