Walt Disney’s “Song of the South”

While researching my Undergraduate Thesis on Walt Disney, Goodness!, I visited the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank in 1986 to view Song of the South, their only film unavailable for public viewing. Not only did they deny me access to the film, but they refused to answer any questions about it. “Have you shelved the film because of racist stereotypes like Uncle Remus?”

“We cannot comment on that.”

My thesis was not in fact on the racism (nor sexism) inherent in the Disney creed but rather in their tendency to simplify (or rather stupefy) details of story. The best example of this was their decision to keep Jiminy Cricket alive throughout the Disney version of Pinnochio as a road buddy when in fact Pinnochio kills the insect in the opening pages of the original story by Carlos Collodi. The irony is that Song of the South is not a skeleton in Disney’s closet – Uncle Tom’s and all – but an example of just another film which uses gimmicks and song – Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A – to cover up bland story-telling and stereotypes that have undercut many Hollywood films.

To say nothing of the country as a whole.

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