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Disney's SONG OF THE SOUTH: a truly offensive musical?

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5 hours ago, AndrewSchone said:

That Disney refuses to make Song of the South available for viewing (unless this has recently changed) makes no sense.  It is certainly no more racist than Gone With the Wind, probably less so.  And I watched part of a 1930's  Shirley Temple movie, in which the depictions of African Americans, especially children was hugely offensive.  There are a large number of other films of the era with more demeaning portrails of Black characters than Song of the South (characters played by Stephen Fetchit, Mantan Moreland, Willy Best, etc.).  GWTW and the Temple movies are very easily available, so the "blacklisting" of Song of the South is needless.

Thanks Andrew for sharing your perspective. I often wonder when it will end-- when we have found something offensive in every single classic film? When we can no longer watch any of it because it was all produced during a culturally unenlightened period?

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I have never seen Song of the South that I can remember. I do love the song Zipadee-Do-Dah.

I do remember problems watching the crows in Dumbo singing “I been done seen about everything...”, but it was only after I grew older. I just found out that the lead crow voiced by white actor Cliff Edwards was named Jim Crow. (I watched a video about racist depictions in Disney movies) What Disney did later on was to produce musicals on television with diverse casts?

I was having a discussion with my brother about having a hard time watching old movies not that we are older. We are African-Americans. As children we readily accepted watching movies and identifying with the white characters. Now it’s hard to watch movies like Gone With the Wind and Hallelujah. In the class it’s a stretch to talk about diversity. It’s very hard to find musicals with African-Americans, Asians, and even Latin Americans. 

By the way are Carmen Jones and Porgy Bess part of the curriculum?

 

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2 hours ago, jawz63 said:

I have never seen Song of the South that I can remember. I do love the song Zipadee-Do-Dah.

I do remember problems watching the crows in Dumbo singing “I been done seen about everything...”, but it was only after I grew older. I just found out that the lead crow voiced by white actor Cliff Edwards was named Jim Crow. (I watched a video about racist depictions in Disney movies) What Disney did later on was to produce musicals on television with diverse casts?

I was having a discussion with my brother about having a hard time watching old movies not that we are older. We are African-Americans. As children we readily accepted watching movies and identifying with the white characters. Now it’s hard to watch movies like Gone With the Wind and Hallelujah. In the class it’s a stretch to talk about diversity. It’s very hard to find musicals with African-Americans, Asians, and even Latin Americans. 

By the way are Carmen Jones and Porgy Bess part of the curriculum?

Thanks for adding your perspective. PORGY AND BESS is not part of the curriculum (I think there's a legal issue preventing it from airing). If you're looking for diversity, try to get a copy of Republic's 1944 musical ATLANTIC CITY. There's a great specialty number about Harlem that features a young Dorothy Dandridge, Louis Armstrong and the duo Buck & Bubbles. 

Yesterday I watched Marla Gibbs' interview on the EmmyTVLegends website. She was describing how a Caucasian couple came up to her once in an airport and told her their relationship was a lot like Mary and Lester's in the sitcom 227 (which Marla did with Hal Williams). This made Marla realize how white people were identifying with the stories, though it was a show with an all-black cast, because the themes and situations were universal. And I know my sister and I watched 227 every Saturday night on NBC when we were teens. We never once thought of it as a black show. We saw it as a show about people we found interesting and we could relate to some of the situations they experienced.

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3 hours ago, jawz63 said:

 

By the way are Carmen Jones and Porgy Bess part of the curriculum?

I noticed this too. You would think since there was discussion about race and images of African Americans in the 20s and 40s with Hallelujah and Cabin in the Sky, I am surprised Carmen Jones in particular isn't here. Dr Ament specializes in star images and personae so I would have liked to hear her insight about Dorothy Dandridge. I don't think the entire course has to be about race but when the topic has been involved in lessons up till now, the omission is interesting. I know its only a month and these things are condensed but it is something obvious.

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