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Subject: Disney's "Song of the South": Racist, or causing overreactions?

Written By: The Valley Goth on 03/21/14 at 1:51 am

Like, Hi, Fer Shurr,

NOTE: SPOILER ALERT for the 1946, Disney movie "Song of the South"

NOTE: I do NOT agree with the last two or so statements that are included in the poll; I added them so that those who might really believe them can vote...

EDIT: I just read about the fact that "SotS" is NOT set during the pre-Civil War era, OR during the Civil War era, but during the Reconstruction era (POST CIVIL WAR), and that not ONE Black character is actually a slave!

A year or so ago, I had the pleasure of being able to watch Disney's "Song of the South" on YouTube; THAT was a fortunate experience, indeed, because, due to the fact that so many Americans hate this "racist" movie, it's never been available for sale in the U.S. (Its last American theatrical re-release occurred during 1986)!  ARG!

The basic plot of the live-action/ animated postwar Disney movie is as follows: Johnny's father must go away for business reasons, so his mother takes him to stay with her at Aunt Sally's plantation for awhile.  He's unhappy, because his father is his favorite guy, but he soon meets up with Uncle Remus, a little girl, and a young Black boy named Toby.  Johnny's two male cousins are not very nice, and they bully him and the little girl quite a lot, but Uncle Remus' Brer stories (Cool, animated sequences, during which Brer Rabbit must outwit Brer Fox and Brer Bear) help Johnny to think more quickly, and to build a sense of self-confidence, so that he can deal with the bullying on a more fair level.  When Johnny's father finally returns, Uncle Remus steps back into the shadows, relinquishing the care of Johnny to the boy's father; Remus' work with Johnny is basically done, although he and Johnny remain friends.

So, THAT'S the plot.  The following is my recollection of my REACTION to the plot:

I thought that the basic plot was pretty cool, but I was most upset about the ending of the movie!  Uncle Remus taught, counseled, and protected Johnny, and the act of him literally backing out of the room, while Johnny's hitherto absent father took over, was sad to watch.  Now, THAT was, in my opinion, racist.

I was also dismayed about the fact that Remus looked after Johnny, while ignoring Toby, who fell, fell behind, etc.  It's as though the movie was telling me "The job of a Black man is to care for a White child, and if he ignores the Black kids who are around him, because he's devoting SO much attention to the White kid, THAT'S okay."  That wasn't okay with me, because Remus' neglect of Toby was SO obvious to me. Toby was Johnny's good friend, and yet, he was allowed to lag behind, to trip over logs, to be generally forgotten, while Uncle Remus spoiled and protected Johnny to no end, as though Toby didn't even EXIST.  It's a good thing that Toby didn't get stung, or bitten, or attacked by those two bullying cousins, because would Disney have had Uncle Remus ignore him THEN, TOO?

I was also slightly bothered by the fact that Remus basically told a female slave to "go back to the kitchen(?)/ "stop bothering (?)/ "mind own business(?)," or something like that (Remember that I haven't seen this movie in awhile, because it's not available on YouTube anymore)

Finally, I found Uncle Remus to be likable, and handsome, overall, so HE was a cool guy in MY book.  It IS distressing to note that James Baskett (He portrayed Uncle Remus) won an Oscar for his performance in "Song of the South", but that he WASN'T ALLOWED TO ATTEND THE OSCARS in order to receive his award...simply because he was Black.  1940s Hollywood was certainly a super place if you were Black and talented, huh?  Sheesh!  How UNFAIR!  Walt SHOULD'VE done something progressive; he SHOULD'VE said, "If you DON'T let James Baskett attend the Oscars, I'LL BOYCOTT them!"

If you've seen this movie, when and where did you first see it, and what did/do you think of it?



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