contemporary art, culture and criticism from a Jewish-Eskimo in the Pacific Northwest.
Cult Cut: Disney's Song of the South (1946)
Before we get too proud of ourselves for the progressiveness of a black princess in Disney's upcoming return to hand-drawn animation, The Princess and the Frog (and don't get me wrong- I'm super excited for that film) It's just important that we remember another Disney "masterpiece" currently (and I'm assuming for all time) banned in the United States: Song of the South
Walt Disney's 1946 liveaction/animation hybrid is a strange and uncomfortable thing to behold. Long banned in the United states (though shockingly shown in theaters as late as 1986!) Song of the South is rife with racist clichés and depictions of idyllic race relations on a pre-civil war Georgian plantation. The Basic premise is a young boy (popular kid's film mainstay Bobby Driscoll) and his mother are deposited on his grandmother's planation while his father returns to a turbulent Atlanta to run a new paper. A young bare-foot african american slave about his age is then charged with tending to the boy. He then encounter's Uncle Remus a wise older man "living" on the plantation who delights the children with fanciful morality tales of Br'r Rabbit in animated cutaways. James Baskett who starred as Uncle Remus was given a special oscar- making him the first African American man to receive an Academy Award™, for a film who's premiere he was unable to attend as no hotel would rent him a room in segregated Atlanta and he would not have been permitted in the Fox Theater and after parties with the rest of the cast. The film also stars Oscar™ Winner Hattie McDaniel (Best Supporting actress and first african American to win and oscar for Gone with the Wind) as a mammy brought from the city to tend the family. The film contains shockingly inaccurate white-washed depictions of "slaves" (a word NEVER used in the film) getting up freely each morning from their cottages and merrily singing on their way to the fields in service to the plantation. All attention fall sot the care of the white child even forsaking the seeming parentless young black boy, whom is treated as a best friend and equal, but is visibly absent come the splendid birthday party scene.
For some added supposedly progressive balance a single mother of a young girl and two thuggish redneck children make the counter balance of white trash vs city folk.
I don't believe in censorship, since that sword cuts both ways. I think it's important for people to see a film like Song of the South, talk to their kids about the difficult historical truths of our nation and of the changes we have made, and those we have yet to make, however I do understand the deception to no longer make copies available, especially in a country as racially tense and the United States...
So for historical purposes I've made the film in it's entirety available after the jump.
Posted by Andrew klaus-Vineyard at Sunday, December 06, 2009
Labels: banned films, civil rights, civil war, Cult Cut, Disney, race, racism, Song of The South, The South
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