I’ve mentioned the podcast You Must Remember This before on this site. For a film lover, it is an absolute must. I wanted to briefly talk about the most recent series done on the podcast, “Six Degrees of Song of the South” about the Walt Disney film of the same name. If you know anything about the film, you know that it is rooted deeply in controversy. Song of the South has never been released for sale. There are only two copies in existence currently. The film has been rereleased in theaters several times. And, what I learned from this podcast, is that there are groups of people who are fans of the film who want it released for purchase. And this just baffles me. But, at the same time, I am not surprised in the slightest.
Song of the South glorifies slavery, plain and simple. It’s a film that eases the guilt of white people. Uncle Remus tells stories about “the good ol’ days” or “the simpler times”. Seeing as this film takes place after the abolition of slavery, it’s not hard to figure out what exactly he means by this, and the implications of what he is saying.
Upon looking this film up, I noticed that it has a 7.5 star rating out of 10 on imdb.com. That’s troubling because, regardless of whether the film is well made or not, it glorifies a dark time in American history. A time that needs to be remembered as anything but “the good ol’ days”.
Due to the social and political climate that we are currently in in America, I am not surprised by the notion that certain people want this film rereleased. Disney has repeatedly made clear that they will not rerelease this film, either in theaters or for purchase. Which is good.
However, they are having their cake and eating it, too. Splash Mountain, the ever popular ride at multiple Disney theme parks, and the merchandise from the ride allows the Walt Disney Company to profit off of a film that they have refused to rerelease due to it’s racist connotations. The minor changes in the ride, like switching out the “tar baby” for the honey pot, means that Disney continues to further distance it’s ride and it’s characters from the controversial film, while still being able to make a profit off said film. And, that hypocrisy just does not sit well with me, nor should it sit well with you.
I highly recommend (as I always do) You Must Remember This. I especially recommend this most recent series, where Karina Longworth not only discusses the ride Splash Mountain, but also the career of Hattie McDaniel, the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and it’s not so pleasant origins, and Blaxploitation in the 1970s.