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Does anyone find SONG OF THE SOUTH (1946) offensive...?

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I just watched it for the first time two days ago. This has been on my to-see list for a long time, but it's almost impossible to locate.  How did I obtain a copy? I moved into a new neighborhood not long ago, and while looking up titles housed at the local library, I discovered that SONG OF THE SOUTH was in the county system and I could request it from a nearby branch. It took two months to get it, because I was fifth on the list requesting it. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see it. But then I received an email last weekend that it had arrived and I went on Monday to pick it up. The minute I got home I put it in the DVD player and sat down and watched it.

 

And just so people know, this was no bootleg copy. It was a disc manufactured by Disney (just not available for sale in the U.S.).  On the back of the case, I could see that it had been printed and distributed in Australia under a division of Disney based in London.

 

The disc had bonus features which helped me understand some of the film's screening history. It was originally released in 1946 and advertised heavily on radio and in newspapers. It eventually aired on television in the early 1970s as part of The Wonderful World of Disney. Then, as evidenced by a trailer included on the disc, it was re-released to theatres in 1986 throughout the United States. I guess the mid-to-late 1980s (the Reagan era) were the last days before political correctness took hold of the country.

 

Anyway, as I pressed play and started watching the film, I was expecting it to be totally offensive and cringe-worthy. It is not.  In fact, it is very integrated the way the black and white children get along (it seems very progressive for a motion picture produced in 1946). I thought it admirable the way the white boy played by Bobby Driscoll looks up to Uncle Remus (James Baskett) and Aunt Tempy (Hattie McDaniel). It's a beautiful film, told in the usual heart-warming classic Disney way.

 

The Uncle Remus character does not seem like a negative stereotype at all. He has extraordinary value the way he entertains (enthralls) the children with his delightful stories of Br'er Rabbit, and in the way he helps Driscoll's character deal with having an absent father. In fact, when the boy is injured near the end of the film, it is the plantation-owning grandmother (brilliantly played by character actress Lucile Watson) who brings Uncle Remus inside the house to see her grandson. She seems to think very highly of this man at the end of the film. She sees him as much more than a slave. If she can look past the limitations of her close-minded society, then why can't we? Why can't we enjoy this lovely and heartwarming film the way Walt Disney intended it to be enjoyed?

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I think the bad stuff if you can call it that has to do with the **** references.

 

Edit, you see the word I used is censored here because it is offensive. It starts with tar and ends with baby so you can figure it out. Since this is a legitimate movie I have to be able to say what the censored word is. i do think it is offensive enough that it should not be shown universally.

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I think the bad stuff if you can call it that has to do with the **** references.

 

Edit, you see the word I used is censored here because it is offensive. It starts with tar and ends with baby so you can figure it out. Since this is a legitimate movie I have to be able to say what the censored word is. i do think it is offensive enough that it should not be shown universally.

Are you serious? This seems like a very obscure slur and it has another non-racial meaning. I cannot believe people would get bent out of shape by that. Aren't we being a little too over-sensitive?  I don't think that is enough of a reason for this film to be withheld from North American audiences.

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I have seen "Song of the South."  My friend is a Disney fanatic and she had a copy that had been printed and distributed in Canada.  We watched it and I didn't think it was bad.  I can understand why people might be offended; but I just figured it was a sign of the time it came from and didn't find a reason why this film should be banned or kept out of the hands of the public.

 

Overall, however, there are very few offensive scenes.  Uncle Remus is charming and the Br'er Rabbit and friends were fun.  Who doesn't love "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah?" Overall, the movie is fun and I think it should be more widely available.

 

Disneyland's "Splash Mountain" ride is based on "Song of the South." I feel that if Disney really felt embarrassed or upset about the public's reaction to the film, they wouldn't have built a major attraction around it.

 

I feel that people's negative attitudes toward this film are just an example of how overly PC our society has become.  

 

There are all kinds of imagery in cartoons and older films that are just as "bad" as they are in "Song of the South."  One such example, the red Indians in Disney's "Peter Pan."  There are also many Disney and Looney Tunes cartoons that depict the Japanese with yellow skin.  That to me is worse than "Song of the South" but also are an example of the time from which they came; and should be seen as more historic than anything.

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I think that that story is probably the best known of the Uncle Remus tales and I think was still well known at the time the film was released, so I think the Disney studio included it because they thought the audience would be expecting it as a part of the film. I have seen the film once, and must say that James Baskett is very good as Uncle Remus. I think though that if Disney let this see the light of day again, they would have to produce it as a Made-to-Order disc in order to avoid controversy.

of course James Baskett is good as Uncle Remus. He received a special oscar for it which is historically significant but political correctness has mandated the film be not talked about. It is a harmless charming little film.

 

"zip-pa-dee-doo-dah!"

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Are you serious? This seems like a very obscure slur and it has another non-racial meaning. I cannot believe people would get bent out of shape by that. Aren't we being a little too over-sensitive?  I don't think that is enough of a reason for this film to be withheld from North American audiences.

 

Beyond what I said they also use stereotyped voices for the characters that are demeaning. When you have that and add in the tbaby stuff there is an argument this movie does have some racially offensive material. This all boils down to the South and slavery, let's be honest. I wouldn't touch this movie with a 1000 foot pole if I was Disney, lol.

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I don't think Walt Disney intended SONG OF THE SOUTH to be racist, but as times have changed many are indeed offended by it. The Disney organization owns the film and has every right to do what they want to with it. From a business standpoint it's a public relations nightmare so they've chosen not to release it. Whether you agree with that or not it's their right.

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I'm sure that the same people who find Song Of The South offensive also find Gone With The Wind just as offensive, but you don't see Warners pulling GWTW from distribution. 

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I would only be offended if they do a remake starring 50 cent as Uncle Remus blowing away every cotton pickin critter he comes across.

 

If they can remake Snow White as a lean mean fighting machine then anything is possible.  

Buy you SOTS DVD today. ;)

 

Snow-White-and-the-Huntsman-Kristen-Stew

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First and foremost, I wish that Disney would re-release Song Of The South in DVD format, as an historical artifact if nothing else.  No need for any further justification, any more than any justification is needed to keep The Birth of A Nation or The Jazz Singer in circulation.  We have to know where we came from in order to know where we're going.

 

But that said, if anyone truly doesn't understand why plenty of people would find SOTS offensive, I'd strongly suggest they try to exercise their imaginations a bit more, and stop reflexively reducing every objection to racial stereotyping to "political correctness". 

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First and foremost, I wish that Disney would re-release Song Of The South in DVD format, as an historical artifact if nothing else.  No need for any further justification, any more than any justification is needed to keep The Birth of A Nation or The Jazz Singer in circulation.  We have to know where we came from in order to know where we're going.

 

But that said, if anyone truly doesn't understand why plenty of people would find SOTS offensive, I'd strongly suggest they try to exercise their imaginations a bit more, and stop reflexively reducing every objection to racial stereotyping to "political correctness". 

This film comes nowhere close to being as hateful against blacks as BIRTH OF A NATION. And let's face it, all movies have stereotypes in them. The Ma & Pa Kettle movies and The Beverly Hillbillies stereotype mountain folk and white trash-- yet we do not see people clamoring for their removal from the public eye. 

 

Obviously, Disney is caving to pressure from certain political groups in the U.S., but they are still distributing the film far and wide across other parts of the globe. So, I ask, what is more damaging-- the way we look at ourselves, or the way we let the rest of the world look at ourselves?

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This film comes nowhere close to being as hateful against blacks as BIRTH OF A NATION. And let's face it, all movies have stereotypes in them. The Ma & Pa Kettle movies and The Beverly Hillbillies stereotype mountain folk and white trash-- yet we do not see people clamoring for their removal from the public eye. 

 

Obviously, Disney is caving to pressure from certain political groups in the U.S., but they are still distributing the film far and wide across other parts of the globe. So, I ask, what is more damaging-- the way we look at ourselves, or the way we let the rest of the world look at ourselves?

 

First, I didn't say that Song of the South should be kept out of circulation. I said the exact opposite.

 

And I didn't (and wouldn't) equate it to The Birth of A Nation, which is nearly on the level of crude Nazi propaganda films in terms of its justification of racial / religious suppression.  But I wouldn't keep any of those movies out of circulation, either.  History can't be erased that easily.

 

So what does that leave me with?  The simple thought that it's not that hard to see why many people would find the crude racial stereotyping in Song of the South offensive, for reasons that have nothing to do with "political correctness" and everything to do with common awareness of the damage done by such stereotyping.  That it's far from the only example of such stereotyping doesn't make it any less real.

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This film comes nowhere close to being as hateful against blacks as BIRTH OF A NATION. And let's face it, all movies have stereotypes in them. The Ma & Pa Kettle movies and The Beverly Hillbillies stereotype mountain folk and white trash-- yet we do not see people clamoring for their removal from the public eye. 

 

Obviously, Disney is caving to pressure from certain political groups in the U.S., but they are still distributing the film far and wide across other parts of the globe. So, I ask, what is more damaging-- the way we look at ourselves, or the way we let the rest of the world look at ourselves?

 

First, I didn't say that Song of the South should be kept out of circulation. I said the exact opposite.

 

And I didn't (and wouldn't) equate it to The Birth of A Nation, which is nearly on the level of crude Nazi propaganda films in terms of its justification of racial / religious suppression.  But I wouldn't keep any of those movies out of circulation, either.  History can't be erased that easily.

 

So what does that leave me with?  The simple thought that it's not that hard to see why many people would find the crude racial stereotyping in Song of the South offensive, for reasons that have nothing to do with "political correctness" and everything to do with common awareness of the damage done by such stereotyping.  That it's far from the only example of such stereotyping doesn't make it any less real.

It's not that crude, and I think there are other ethnic groups that are shown in cruder circumstances in films by other studios. I was reading comments by posters on the IMDB, and some of them were by people who identified as black who said they had no problem with SONG OF THE SOUTH.

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It's not that crude, and I think there are other ethnic groups that are shown in cruder circumstances in films by other studios. I was reading comments by posters on the IMDB, and some of them were by people who identified as black who said they had no problem with SONG OF THE SOUTH.

 

Again, since I've now said three times that I wish Disney would re-release Song of the South, I'm not sure whom you're arguing with. 

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It's not that crude, and I think there are other ethnic groups that are shown in cruder circumstances in films by other studios. I was reading comments by posters on the IMDB, and some of them were by people who identified as black who said they had no problem with SONG OF THE SOUTH.

 

Again, since I've now said three times that I wish Disney would re-release Song of the South, I'm not sure whom you're arguing with. 

Not arguing. But I do not find this film offensive. The fact that SONG OF THE SOUTH is being suppressed tells me just how far we haven't come in America with regards to looking at racism from a detached, historical point of view. Other nations deal with racism, but not in the extreme way that we seem to in the United States. The worst part about this is that the film is being kept out of circulation to prevent children from seeing it, with the implication being that if kids do not see it, then racism will end with the new generations. Yet racism seems as prevalent in America as it ever was, and this harmless Disney film has nothing to do with that. It's time to stop blaming the makers of this film and those who enjoy watching it for perpetuating something that has at its roots an entirely other cause.

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I'm sure that the same people who find Song Of The South offensive also find Gone With The Wind just as offensive, but you don't see Warners pulling GWTW from distribution. 

 

I haven't seen SOTS so I can't judge it.   It appears you have.   Are you saying that the SOTS does NOT have content any different than what can be found in GWTW?      Others at this forum that have seen both pictures cleary do NOT feel that way.

 

Regardless I feel the movie should be available but as others have noted Disney made a business choice.  Just like the NFL did with how they are now handling the Rice case.    

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I haven't seen SOTS so I can't judge it.   It appears you have.   Are you saying that the SOTS does NOT have content any different than what can be found in GWTW?      Others at this forum that have seen both pictures cleary do NOT feel that way.

 

Regardless I feel the movie should be available but as others have noted Disney made a business choice.  Just like the NFL did with how they are now handling the Rice case.    

I didn't say that SOTS didn't have content the GWTW doesn't. I just said that there are a lot of people out there who find GWTW just as objectionable. Much of the argument against the film has to do with the depiction of "happy slaves." The problem with this argument is that the film is set during the Reconstruction Era, and blacks portrayed in the film are sharecroppers, not slaves. As for Disney's business choice, it is interesting to note that they apparently have no problem with the film being seen, as they surprisingly do not take any legal action against the many bootleggers who sell the film over the internet in the United States. I am also not saying that I can't see why some might find things about the film objectionable, but if we ban every film that someone finds objectionable, we're not going to have much to choose from.

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I didn't say that SOTS didn't have content the GWTW doesn't. I just said that there are a lot of people out there who find GWTW just as objectionable. Much of the argument against the film has to do with the depiction of "happy slaves." The problem with this argument is that the film is set during the Reconstruction Era, and blacks portrayed in the film are sharecroppers, not slaves. As for Disney's business choice, it is interesting to note that they apparently have no problem with the film being seen, as they surprisingly do not take any legal action against the many bootleggers who sell the film over the internet in the United States. I am also not saying that I can't see why some might find things about the film objectionable, but if we ban every film that someone finds objectionable, we're not going to have much to choose from.

 

We don't have to worry about companies banning every movie someone finds objectionable.    As you noted GWTW isn't banned.  In most cases if a company believes they can make money on a movie they will try.   

 

If Disney didn't wish to be associated with the film,  I wish they would have just sold the rights to someone else.  This way those that wish to see the movie could and Disney wouldn't have their name attached to the film.   Win \ Win for everyone in my view.

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I would only be offended if they do a remake starring 50 cent as Uncle Remus blowing away every cotton pickin critter he comes across.

 

If they can remake Snow White as a lean mean fighting machine then anything is possible.  

Buy you SOTS DVD today. ;)

 

Snow-White-and-the-Huntsman-Kristen-Stew

Matt Dillon? :lol:

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Not arguing. But I do not find this film offensive. The fact that SONG OF THE SOUTH is being suppressed tells me just how far we haven't come in America with regards to looking at racism from a detached, historical point of view. Other nations deal with racism, but not in the extreme way that we seem to in the United States. The worst part about this is that the film is being kept out of circulation to prevent children from seeing it, with the implication being that if kids do not see it, then racism will end with the new generations. Yet racism seems as prevalent in America as it ever was, and this harmless Disney film has nothing to do with that. It's time to stop blaming the makers of this film and those who enjoy watching it for perpetuating something that has at its roots an entirely other cause.

Right on the money! couldn't agree more. not seeing SOTS isn't going to kill racism.

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Not arguing. But I do not find this film offensive. The fact that SONG OF THE SOUTH is being suppressed tells me just how far we haven't come in America with regards to looking at racism from a detached, historical point of view. Other nations deal with racism, but not in the extreme way that we seem to in the United States. The worst part about this is that the film is being kept out of circulation to prevent children from seeing it, with the implication being that if kids do not see it, then racism will end with the new generations. Yet racism seems as prevalent in America as it ever was, and this harmless Disney film has nothing to do with that. It's time to stop blaming the makers of this film and those who enjoy watching it for perpetuating something that has at its roots an entirely other cause.

 

Disney decided the film should NOT be made available.   I assume a key reason was that they don't wish for their brand to be associated with the film.     

 

Instead of blaming groups that have issues with the film,  shouldn't one blame Disney for bending to these groups?

 

There will always be people that complain and wish to control what others can see.    Owners of said content need to have the guts to ignore their wishes.

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From the relatively little I've read about the topic, most, though not all,

of black individuals and organizations that commented on the film at

the time of its release found it offensive to varying degrees. I've seen

it once and found it a bit offensive. And except for the musical numbers,

it's pretty tiresome.

 

Not to belabor the obvious, but the reason many people (both black and white) found Song Of The South offensive wasn't that it was all that much worse than countless other depictions of African Americans in movies.  It was the combination of that along with the far worse fact that in 1946 there were NO OTHER movies that featured African Americans as normal human beings with normal hopes, fears, and talent ranges.  Until Juano Hernandez finally broke the ice in 1949's Intruder in the Dust, it was always either servants, entertainers, or dice-rolling darkies. 

 

And after a while it's really not that hard to figure out why this sort of thing could rub some people the wrong way. 

 

Try imagining your reaction if the tables were turned, and EVERY FEATURE MOVIE that you grew up with had depicted white people the way that black people were shown in Hollywood's so-called "Golden Age".  I doubt if you'd be waxing all that nostalgic about it.*

 

*By "you", I'm not referring to "you" as in Vautrin, who seems to get the point.

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From the relatively little I've read about the topic, most, though not all,

of black individuals and organizations that commented on the film at

the time of its release found it offensive to varying degrees. I've seen

it once and found it a bit offensive. And except for the musical numbers,

it's pretty tiresome.

 

Not to belabor the obvious, but the reason many people (both black and white) found Song Of The South offensive wasn't that it was all that much worse than countless other depictions of African Americans in movies.  It was the combination of that along with the far worse fact that in 1946 there were NO OTHER movies that featured African Americans as normal human beings with normal hopes, fears, and talent ranges.  Until Juano Hernandez finally broke the ice in 1949's Intruder in the Dust, it was always either servants, entertainers, or dice-rolling darkies. 

 

And after a while it's really not that hard to figure out why this sort of thing could rub some people the wrong way. 

 

Try imagining your reaction if the tables were turned, and EVERY FEATURE MOVIE that you grew up with had depicted white people the way that black people were shown in Hollywood's so-called "Golden Age".  I doubt if you'd be waxing all that nostalgic about it.*

 

*By "you", I'm not referring to "you" as in Vautrin, who seems to get the point.

Is it worse than the scene in King Kong where the black native is crushed under the foot of Kong? There are no white people crushed under the foot of Kong.

 

No, whites can never relate to the insults in cinema since the beginning of media to blacks, Native Americans, Asians and just about all ethnicities other than the white male of no discernible origin. Women didn't fare too well in early cinema re their glorious male counterparts, and who can forget the insulting 'free, white. and twenty one' comment uttered all too often?

 

Having come from Italian heritage, I can lament the insults leveled at Italians and the stereotypical portrayals in movies, but again, no, it is not the same.

 

But at the same time, would I delete one moment of one film that featured an insult to any race, creed, or color? No. Would I censor one line of offensive dialogue in a film or wish it to be pulled from availability and thus wipe out its history? No. I lament that Amos and Andy is no longer shown on television.

 

Didn't we Boomers have enough of sanitized history with our grade school textbooks? Did you see any reference to blankets with smallpox in your books? I didn't.

 

You all remember what happens when censorship is the norm.

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Is it worse than the scene in King Kong where the black native is crushed under the foot of Kong? There are no white people crushed under the foot of Kong.

 

No, whites can never relate to the insults in cinema since the beginning of media to blacks, Native Americans, Asians and just about all ethnicities other than the white male of no discernible origin. Women didn't fare too well in early cinema re their glorious male counterparts, and who can forget the insulting 'free, white. and twenty one' comment uttered all too often?

 

Having come from Italian heritage, I can lament the insults leveled at Italians and the stereotypical portrayals in movies, but again, no, it is not the same.

 

But at the same time, would I delete one moment of one film that featured an insult to any race, creed, or color? No. Would I censor one line of offensive dialogue in a film or wish it to be pulled from availability and thus wipe out its history? No. I lament that Amos and Andy is no longer shown on television.

 

Didn't we Boomers have enough of sanitized history with our grade school textbooks? Did you see any reference to blankets with smallpox in your books? I didn't.

 

You all remember what happens when censorship is the norm.

 

I agree with you.   Similar to my comment on subtext we first need to understand that just because we don't see something offensive in a film that doesn't mean it isn't 'real' to others. 

 

Like you I don't support when media companies remove content or withhold a movie from the public.    People should have the choice to view something or not.    When a media company withholds a movie that choice is taken away.

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This movie isn't that hard to find and get a copy, but here is the thing, it isn't that good of a movie to begin with. Even if you take out the racist reasons the rest falls flat. Disney could have made this movie against racism if they wanted but as has been pointed out they used stereotypes and went along with all the others of the time.

 

They could have made the husband want to leave because he didn't like the slavery issue but they completely left out the whys of it all. Like this is the way it always is, singing happy slaves on a plantation taking orders from grandmother slave owner. When the wife tells Uncle Remus not to talk to her child anymore it is Uncle Remus that has to leave. Disney even used the slave dialect in the wise-cracking voices of the rabbit, fox and bear to make them seem dumb. The tbaby episode is really bad, the rabbit will beat up the black tbaby because he won't speak back to him.

 

The only glimmer of hope in this movie is the ending where the different children are together and happy. As though none of this even matters and they only want to be together and don't care what race is.

 

This is why Disney does not release it on DVD here, they see what some of us see in this movie. The money they would make off the DVDs would not be worth the bad publicity of profiting from stereotyping. i think what sets this movie apart from some of the others mentioned is this one is directed at children.

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