Where Have You Gone, Uncle Remus?

November 12th, 2006 marked the 60th anniversary of the movie Song of the South. Perhaps this cultural milestone did not capture your attention. Perhaps you don't even remember celebrating the 50th anniversary. There is a reason for that, and it is not your faulty memory. Disney goes to great lengths to hype every one of its Classic Movies "for a limited time, only" complete with memorabilia and trinkets and googaws and suchlike. But there has been none of that commercial celebratin' for Song of the South. It is in limbo, or purgatory, if you prefer. So why is it that Americans have yet to see this classic Disney film on DVD or video? Is it too politically incorrect, perhaps? Let's see what shreholders asked some of the cringing powerbrokers of Disneytopia: March 11, 2006 Disney CEO Robert Iger: No Song of the South Yet During the question and answer session at Disney's 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Anaheim, CA, the question was raised by a Disney shareholder why Song of the South has not been released. Here is a transcript: "My name is Howard Cromer. I live in Cypress, I'm a Disney shareholder. I'm actually delivering a message from my son, 10. He wants to know in recent years, in the midst of all your re-releases of your videos, why you haven't released Song of the South on your Disney Classics?" [Applause] "And, he wonders why. Frank Wells told me many years ago that it would be coming out. Well obviously Frank Wells isn't around anymore, so we still wonder why. And by the way, Mr. Iger, he thinks it was a very good choice when they made you CEO of Disney." [Applause] Iger: "Thank you very much. You may change your mind when I answer your question, though. Um... we've discussed this a lot. We believe it's actually an opportunity from a financial perspective to put Song of the South out. I screened it fairly recently because I hadn't seen it since I was a child, and I have to tell you after I watched it, even considering the context that it was made, I had some concerns about it because of what it depicted. And thought it's quite possible that people wouldn't consider it in the context that it was made, and there were some... [long pause] depictions that I mentioned earlier in the film that I think would be bothersome to a lot of people. And so, owing to the sensitivity that exists in our culture, balancing it with the desire to, uh, maybe increase our earnings a bit, but never putting that in front of what we thought were our ethics and our integrity, we made the decision not to re-release it. [Emphasis mine] Not a decision that is made forever, I imagine this is gonna continue to come up, but for now we simply don't have plans to bring it back because of the sensitivities that I mentioned. Sorry." It is a good thing that Disney is taking the initiative to keep us from being irreparably upset at this horrible, racist movie of badly fictionalized American history, and that they will not be selling any memorabilia of this hideous movie, either! Why, that would be ever so hypocritical of them. I am also relieved to know that they purged the scenes of those nasty, offensive, racist, jive talkin' minstrel black crows from the classic movie, Dumbo... just in time for its 60th anniversary - released for a limited time only....oh wait, never mind. Okay, but at least they didn't rewrite the history of Pocahontas, because that would have misled impressionable youngsters with untruths about what really happened. That would have been irresponsible. A nice ethical company like Disney understands its role in our culture and the attendant responsibilities. That is why their television network ABC is so careful with the truth and unbiased. I only hope some insensitive, moneygrubbing movie company exec doesn't release Gone With the Wind any time soon, because it really messes up history badly. No sir, the only outcome I see from allowing people to watch Gone With the Wind in the privacy of their own homes is mob anger, rioting, mayhem, complete societal breakdown and other forms of press-approved disorders. And aren't we glad that Disney didn't rewrite Pinocchio or any of its other animated literary classics, because falsifying fiction is a crime against literature, and Disney would never risk its reputation by doing that! Just recall this sweet dialogue between Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. From Chapter four of the original Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi:
"Careful, ugly Cricket! If you make me angry, you'll be sorry!" "Poor Pinocchio, I am sorry for you." "Why?" "Because you are a Marionette and, what is much worse, you have a wooden head." At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket. Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head. With a last weak "cri-cri-cri" the poor Cricket fell from the wall, dead!
Maybe it's me, but I seem to remember the words of the opening song "Arabian Nights" in the film Aladdin (1992) a bit differently than in the video release. Perhaps my mind is just playing tricks on me. Call it a senior moment. What is so refreshing about the Disney Corporation is its resolve and independence from outside meddling of special interest groups. It would be a crying shame for Disney to cave under pressure from self-appointed leaders of minority groups like this one. If Disney didn't really want Song of the South released, why did they release the video tape in Asia and Europe? The DVD has not been released internationally, though. The laserdisc was released in 1986, and only some of the animated portions of the film are available. Was Disney concerned about the possibility of Les Jeunes Africains rioting in Paris if the movie were to be released there? One shudders to think of the chaos that would be unleashed with Disney publicly celebrating the 60th anniversary of Song of the South for private viewing the way they did in 1986, when they unashamedly and openly celebrated the 40th anniversary by releasing it in movie theatres for public viewing. Racism is, after all, much worse today than twenty years ago. It really is an insult to think that the American people can't be trusted to see this movie in their own homes... a film that was for so many of us, our parents and grandparents, a wonderful, decent family film. The Disney Corporation thinks we are either too easily offended or too stupid to enjoy watching it. I don't recommend viewing pirated movies, but anyone with a computer can find an edition available for purchase. The quality probably won't be quite as good as an official Disney-sanctioned DVD, but the story is sweet, optimistic, the cartoons are funny, and Uncle Remus is the Man, a fount of wisdom and good humor. He will always be with me, no matter how long he is forced to remain in Disney's forced exile. Jewell Atkins is the proprietor of Infidelphia Live.
November 12th, 2006 marked the 60th anniversary of the movie Song of the South. Perhaps this cultural milestone did not capture your attention. Perhaps you don't even remember celebrating the 50th anniversary. There is a reason for that, and it is not your faulty memory. Disney goes to great lengths to hype every one of its Classic Movies "for a limited time, only" complete with memorabilia and trinkets and googaws and suchlike. But there has been none of that commercial celebratin' for Song of the South. It is in limbo, or purgatory, if you prefer. So why is it that Americans have yet to see this classic Disney film on DVD or video? Is it too politically incorrect, perhaps? Let's see what shreholders asked some of the cringing powerbrokers of Disneytopia: March 11, 2006 Disney CEO Robert Iger: No Song of the South Yet During the question and answer session at Disney's 2006 Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Anaheim, CA, the question was raised by a Disney shareholder why Song of the South has not been released. Here is a transcript: "My name is Howard Cromer. I live in Cypress, I'm a Disney shareholder. I'm actually delivering a message from my son, 10. He wants to know in recent years, in the midst of all your re-releases of your videos, why you haven't released Song of the South on your Disney Classics?" [Applause] "And, he wonders why. Frank Wells told me many years ago that it would be coming out. Well obviously Frank Wells isn't around anymore, so we still wonder why. And by the way, Mr. Iger, he thinks it was a very good choice when they made you CEO of Disney." [Applause] Iger: "Thank you very much. You may change your mind when I answer your question, though. Um... we've discussed this a lot. We believe it's actually an opportunity from a financial perspective to put Song of the South out. I screened it fairly recently because I hadn't seen it since I was a child, and I have to tell you after I watched it, even considering the context that it was made, I had some concerns about it because of what it depicted. And thought it's quite possible that people wouldn't consider it in the context that it was made, and there were some... [long pause] depictions that I mentioned earlier in the film that I think would be bothersome to a lot of people. And so, owing to the sensitivity that exists in our culture, balancing it with the desire to, uh, maybe increase our earnings a bit, but never putting that in front of what we thought were our ethics and our integrity, we made the decision not to re-release it. [Emphasis mine] Not a decision that is made forever, I imagine this is gonna continue to come up, but for now we simply don't have plans to bring it back because of the sensitivities that I mentioned. Sorry." It is a good thing that Disney is taking the initiative to keep us from being irreparably upset at this horrible, racist movie of badly fictionalized American history, and that they will not be selling any memorabilia of this hideous movie, either! Why, that would be ever so hypocritical of them. I am also relieved to know that they purged the scenes of those nasty, offensive, racist, jive talkin' minstrel black crows from the classic movie, Dumbo... just in time for its 60th anniversary - released for a limited time only....oh wait, never mind. Okay, but at least they didn't rewrite the history of Pocahontas, because that would have misled impressionable youngsters with untruths about what really happened. That would have been irresponsible. A nice ethical company like Disney understands its role in our culture and the attendant responsibilities. That is why their television network ABC is so careful with the truth and unbiased. I only hope some insensitive, moneygrubbing movie company exec doesn't release Gone With the Wind any time soon, because it really messes up history badly. No sir, the only outcome I see from allowing people to watch Gone With the Wind in the privacy of their own homes is mob anger, rioting, mayhem, complete societal breakdown and other forms of press-approved disorders. And aren't we glad that Disney didn't rewrite Pinocchio or any of its other animated literary classics, because falsifying fiction is a crime against literature, and Disney would never risk its reputation by doing that! Just recall this sweet dialogue between Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. From Chapter four of the original Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi:
"Careful, ugly Cricket! If you make me angry, you'll be sorry!" "Poor Pinocchio, I am sorry for you." "Why?" "Because you are a Marionette and, what is much worse, you have a wooden head." At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket. Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head. With a last weak "cri-cri-cri" the poor Cricket fell from the wall, dead!
Maybe it's me, but I seem to remember the words of the opening song "Arabian Nights" in the film Aladdin (1992) a bit differently than in the video release. Perhaps my mind is just playing tricks on me. Call it a senior moment. What is so refreshing about the Disney Corporation is its resolve and independence from outside meddling of special interest groups. It would be a crying shame for Disney to cave under pressure from self-appointed leaders of minority groups like this one. If Disney didn't really want Song of the South released, why did they release the video tape in Asia and Europe? The DVD has not been released internationally, though. The laserdisc was released in 1986, and only some of the animated portions of the film are available. Was Disney concerned about the possibility of Les Jeunes Africains rioting in Paris if the movie were to be released there? One shudders to think of the chaos that would be unleashed with Disney publicly celebrating the 60th anniversary of Song of the South for private viewing the way they did in 1986, when they unashamedly and openly celebrated the 40th anniversary by releasing it in movie theatres for public viewing. Racism is, after all, much worse today than twenty years ago. It really is an insult to think that the American people can't be trusted to see this movie in their own homes... a film that was for so many of us, our parents and grandparents, a wonderful, decent family film. The Disney Corporation thinks we are either too easily offended or too stupid to enjoy watching it. I don't recommend viewing pirated movies, but anyone with a computer can find an edition available for purchase. The quality probably won't be quite as good as an official Disney-sanctioned DVD, but the story is sweet, optimistic, the cartoons are funny, and Uncle Remus is the Man, a fount of wisdom and good humor. He will always be with me, no matter how long he is forced to remain in Disney's forced exile. Jewell Atkins is the proprietor of Infidelphia Live.