Nowadays, The Walt Disney Company prides itself on its family-friendly and politically-correct content, but that wasn’t always the case. Back in the day, the entertainment giant was much less progressive when it came to the films that they produced.
One famous example, a live-action and animation hybrid called Song of the South, which was set in the Reconstruction-era South, has long been criticized for its racist depictions of African American culture. Conscious of these outdated representations, the studio has long tried to erase the film from history, but some people are wondering whether they’ve been going at it the right way.
Although Song of the South, which was released in the mid-1940s, has been a subject of controversy for several decades, interest (or disinterest) in the picture has been rekindled by the ongoing protests. These events, which are taking place in response to the killing of an African American victim of police brutality, appear to have sharpened the population’s perception of racism, and increased their fervor when it comes to combating it.
From the moment Song of the South began to attract negative responses from the status quo, Disney has tried – in numerous ways – to make people forget the film has ever existed. It has, for instance, prevented the picture from being released on DVD. In addition, the company has also refused to make it available on streaming while allowing films featuring similarly outdated depictions of race like Dumbo at the same time. But as you can see below, the internet still isn’t letting them forget about its existence.
if disney wanna hide song of the south so bad maybe they should also close splash mountain😋
— rory newt (@newtstarkos) June 10, 2020
@Disney @DisneyParks can easily retheme their rides so they no longer represent Song of the South or any other Disney works that have roots deep in misrepresenting history and advocating for slavery. Slavery wasn't beautiful is was brutal! And we shouldn't use it for fun themes!
— 🖤#BlackLivesMatter🖤 (@ohsweetpeach) June 10, 2020
stuff like this just makes disney's handling of song of the south feel a billion times more cowardly https://t.co/Ga54XgVdAP
— lifelong nc dinos fan (@dylmdav) June 10, 2020
HBOmax announced the film will return uncensored with a historical context soon. It is not being erased, stop pretending that it is just for clout. You want to talk about stuff being erased go after Disney for Song of the South, a film they continue to hide in shame. pic.twitter.com/wYeqx69HfB
— 🏳️🌈Ryder🏳️🌈 (@LightRhyder) June 10, 2020
Hey Disney, look at what your cartoon rival Warner Brothers did with their controversial cartoons. THEY MADE A DISCLAIMER and continued to show them. Pretty easy to do this for Song of the South. #NeverForget #NotBeingErased pic.twitter.com/nrEf1hT78s
— Chris_Pan (@Pan_the_Puppy) June 10, 2020
Disney made a LOT of…uh, problematic…movies, but none quite so indefensible as Song of the South, a Reconstruction movie in which a formerly enslaved man tells a young, wealthy white boy about how nice things were during the slavery era.
— Cory Doctorow #BLM (@doctorow) June 10, 2020
I see that Song of the South is trending. Better get used to it people because once it’s gone, you’ll never see it again. It’s funny how this is a movie that Disney is absolutely ashamed of, but they still have a ride based off it at Disneyland. pic.twitter.com/rQV3tw4v2a
— Issac the King (@IssacFl94852488) June 10, 2020
At first glance, it may seem a little confusing that people are criticizing Disney of racist conduct when it’s actively tried to disown an offensive project it produced in the past. However, their outrage is certainly justified considering that Disney has, in fact, continued to promote the film by featuring its cartoon characters on the popular ride Splash Mountain.
While no trace of Uncle Remus or any other African American characters from Song of the South can be found on this ride, its non-racial aspects still remain a relic of a criminal past – one which the nation ought to atone for, not celebrate with a theme park attraction.