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

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I did not think the movie is offensive- just a product of it's time when art was not ruled by political correctness - yeah some of the imagery ( specially in the cartoon segments) may now seem questionably racist- but  hey so are Mickey and Judy singingin black face- but a movie is a reflection of it's era.

 

Yes,  a movie is a reflection of it's era.   

 

It appears you're saying;  In art, as long as the artist's intentions were NOT racist, than by definition that art wasn't racist. 

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I don't know about all that, but I do think the IMDB poster had it slightly wrong-- folks are not upset that Uncle Remus is a happy-going sort of guy; they are upset that he is a happy-going black guy. The idea that blacks should be outraged by plantation owners isn't supported by the depictions in this film, and that is a huge problem for some.

 

How about a re-make of the film, with a 21st Century Gangsta

Remus??

 

 

blackpanter.JPG

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If we wanted to censor the movies of another era because of stereotypes, we'd have to throw out every film with a woman in the kitchen.  History is stereotype. Sometimes, it's almost dishonest not to stereotype. Showing an old film set in New York where the policemen are almost all Irish -- that's stereotyping too!

 

And what do you think of this? I think this is a beautiful film, even though at the end of this short scene, De Lawd says: "Let the fish fry proceed."

 

 

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How about a re-make of the film, with a 21st Century Gangsta

Remus??

 

 

blackpanter.JPG

 

Wait! Are you talkin' about a version with some inner city guy talkin' to little kids and tellin' 'em stories that perhaps contain a message?

 

Nah, sorry Freddy, but THAT'S not an original idea at all, dude!

 

Nope, 'cause Eddie Murphy was doin' THAT sort'a thing way back in the 1980s!!!

 

Uh-huh, SEE?!...

 

eddiemurphy2.jpg

 

(...can you say "already been done", boys and girls???)

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If we wanted to censor the movies of another era because of stereotypes, we'd have to throw out every film with a woman in the kitchen.  History is stereotype. Sometimes, it's almost dishonest not to stereotype. Showing an old film set in New York where the policemen are almost all Irish -- that's stereotyping too!

 

And what do you think of this? I think this is a beautiful film, even though at the end of this short scene, De Lawd says: "Let the fish fry proceed."

 

 

I don't recall reading one post at this forum from anyone that said they wanted to censor movies (i.e. remove content or ban a complete movie).    

 

Instead,  the question in the title of this thread was if anyone found a specific movie offensive or not.    Maybe you have a misunderstanding in that,  because one finds a movie offensive, they must wish to censor it.        Not true based on what I have seen so far.

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I don't recall reading one post at this forum from anyone that said they wanted to censor movies (i.e. remove content or ban a complete movie).    

 

Instead,  the question in the title of this thread was if anyone found a specific movie offensive or not.    Maybe you have a misunderstanding in that,  because one finds a movie offensive, they must wish to censor it.        Not true based on what I have seen so far.

 

Yep, you're right, James.

 

The only thing I'D like to see "banned" are those FREAKIN' POLITICAL ADS THEY'RE NOW CONSTANTLY RUNNIN' ON MY FREAKIN' TV!!!!

 

(...'cause the mute button on my remote control is JUST about to be worn out from OVERUSE!!!!) LOL

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I don't recall reading one post at this forum from anyone that said they wanted to censor movies (i.e. remove content or ban a complete movie).    

 

Instead,  the question in the title of this thread was if anyone found a specific movie offensive or not.    Maybe you have a misunderstanding in that,  because one finds a movie offensive, they must wish to censor it.        Not true based on what I have seen so far.

I think there was sort of talk of Disney censoring it, meaning not releasing on DVD to the American public.

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...the question in the title of this thread was if anyone found a specific movie offensive or not.    

I worded it that way, because I wanted to see if people objected to the film-- but not to the point they wanted to suppress it (which would be very extreme). 

 

For instance, Roger Ebert voiced strong objections to SONG OF THE SOUTH (Maltin on the other hand seems to like it a great deal). Ebert felt that Disney should not re-release it in the U.S. and he probably had something to do with the scare tactics that the company fell prey to...but interestingly, Ebert did not feel as if BIRTH OF A NATION should be suppressed. I think BIRTH OF A NATION is a much more offensive motion picture if we're talking about the portrayals of African Americans on screen.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_the_South

I know that Wikipedia is not the absolute authority on everything, due to it being open source; however, I read this article and felt that it provided a lot of interesting information regarding this film.

 

One of the things that I found interesting was that the Hays office had requested that Disney clearly state at the beginning of the film that the story took place in the 1870s, after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.  However, Disney neglected to do so.  I wonder if they had clearly stated the time period, would there be the same controversy? Upon initial release, much of the controversy laid in the fact that people felt this film glorified the slavery through its depiction of the slave/master relationship. 

 

Another thing that I found was interesting, was that this film has been re-released in theaters multiple times since its initial release in 1946.  It was re-released in 1956, 1972, 1973, 1980 and 1986.  I wonder what the audience response was during the 50s, 70s and 80s?

 

There are differing statements offered by the Disney personnel regarding the film's release.  CEO, Robert Iger, said there were absolutely no plans to release the film on DVD, citing it's offensiveness and antiquated ideas ; whereas, the Creative Director, Dave Bossert, said that they would for sure be releasing the film and were looking for the right way and opportunity to release it, stating that it was part of the company's history. 

 

It seems that currently, Disney is willing to use the animated portions of the film, Br'er Rabbit and the other characters, and the song "Zip-a-dee-do-dah" in their attractions, films, etc.  In the "Splash Mountain" ride at Disneyland, you ride in the log through the stories of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear while listening to the song from the film, and finally plunge to your doom into the Br'er Patch.

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One of the things that I found interesting was that the Hays office had requested that Disney clearly state at the beginning of the film that the story took place in the 1870s, after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.  However, Disney neglected to do so.  I wonder if they had clearly stated the time period, would there be the same controversy? 

I have thought about this...I don't think it was intentional on the part of Disney to leave the date ambiguous in the way some think (to further claims of racism). Rather, I think the vagueness comes from the fact that Joel Harris' stories were collected during AND after the war (1862-66). So some of Uncle Remus' storytelling in the text does occur during the war, and some of it occurs after the war-- and how are we to know (how was Disney to know exactly) which stories were collected during a period of slavery and which ones were collected after its abolishment.

 

But one thing we do know is that Johnny's parents had not yet married in the early portions of the text-- so if they are already married and going through a separation with a young son, then clearly this film must be set after the war. And people familiar with Harris' characters would already know this when they went to the movie. By the way, I think this is the main reason Disney framed the animated vignettes with live action-- the story with the boy going to live with his grandmother shows that the setting is clearly the 1870s.

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I think one of the more positive representations of an African-American in an earlier film, would be Sam in "Casablanca."  He's an employee of Rick's, but also a friend and Rick treats him respectfully and is a real friend to him as Sam has been with him for a long time.  When Sydney Greenstreet wants Sam to work in his club, Rick asks Sam if he'd like to work at Greenstreet's club.  I've read there was controversy over Ingrid Bergman referring to Sam as "boy" but I do not know if "boy" was meant to be derogatory or whether Bergman was just referring to a younger man at the piano (even though he looks as old as Bogart, hardly young). 

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I think one of the more positive representations of an African-American in an earlier film, would be Sam in "Casablanca."  He's an employee of Rick's, but also a friend and Rick treats him respectfully and is a real friend to him as Sam has been with him for a long time.

 

An even more positive portrayal was Theresa Harris as Barbara Stanwyck's maid Chico in Baby Face.  She was still in a subservient position, but unlike virtually every other such portrayal in the movies of that period, there was no hint of the usual stereotyped behavior exhibited by Harris.  No "yassuhs" or bug-eyes or shuffling, and if you didn't know any better, in their scenes together in New York you might have thought they were a pair of partnered grifters who just happened to be of different races.

 

babyface.jpg

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I think one of the more positive representations of an African-American in an earlier film, would be Sam in "Casablanca."  He's an employee of Rick's, but also a friend and Rick treats him respectfully and is a real friend to him as Sam has been with him for a long time.  When Sydney Greenstreet wants Sam to work in his club, Rick asks Sam if he'd like to work at Greenstreet's club.  I've read there was controversy over Ingrid Bergman referring to Sam as "boy" but I do not know if "boy" was meant to be derogatory or whether Bergman was just referring to a younger man at the piano (even though he looks as old as Bogart, hardly young). 

 

I have a feeling it wasn't meant to be derogatory. Back in those days, people in service (valets, porters, hotel workers, shoeshiners) were often called "boy," regardless of race. By the way, Underdog's secret identity was Shoeshine Boy.

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I have a feeling it wasn't meant to be derogatory. Back in those days, people in service (valets, porters, hotel workers, shoeshiners) were often called "boy," regardless of race. By the way, Underdog's secret identity was Shoeshine Boy.

 

I tend to agree.  I just watched The Caddie and Jerry Lewis is called 'boy' by Dean Martin and others when Jerry is compelled (forced ) to serve guest at a party of rich folks.    Martin really stresses the BOY line.    This is done on purpose to show that the Martin character is a cad and enjoys treating his friend like hired help.   (a classic theme in many Martin \ Lewis movies). 

 

Related to Sam and Rick and the scene SpeedRacer mentioned;   Rick tells Ferrari he doesn't buy and sell human being.    I use to think that line had something to do with slavery as it relates to Sam,  but now I think it just was related to how refugess were treated in Casablanca (especially by Captain Renault).   

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I think there was sort of talk of Disney censoring it, meaning not releasing on DVD to the American public.

 

Yes,  Disney will not release the film in the USA.  That was covered long ago in this thread.   Still I don't see anyone,  at this forum, who  support Disney's action.   

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A few years ago (2009), they almost did release it on DVD. But it was quietly shelved again in 2010, when the studio head said the film was antiquated. A few months later, some person at the Disney Company confided the following in an internet interview: "I can say there’s been a lot of internal discussion about [song of the South]. And at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it’s a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way."

 

Now what exactly does this mean? They may release it, but it has been four years since this statement.....and Fantasia and Make Mine Music are only available in edited prints.

 

Thanks for the info.    That statement does sound like a cover up.    If Disney really believes 'we want people to see Song of the South' why did they quietly shelve it in the first place?     It looks like they are trying to have it both ways;   appease the people that don't want them to make the film available but pretend that this isn't what they are doing to appease people that feel no movie should be censored.

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Here is a portion of a post made by someone on the IMDB. He identifies himself as black and does not find SONG OF THE SOUTH to be offensive: ... I guess what some people didn't like was that Uncle Remus was a happy-going person. What was he supposed to do, be miserable and tell stories about how Bre'r Rabbit shot up some heroin and got busted by the cops? Contrary to what liberals will tell you, the vast majority of us (yes, I'm black, AND a Republican...) don't just sit around 24/7 being depressed and miserable because of things that happened to people we never knew, who have all been dead for over a hundred years.

 

The IMDB poster is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he doesn't seem to have a good sense of history. The "people" at issue haven't "all been dead for over a hundred years." When SONG OF THE SOUTH was made, there were still a large number of ex-slaves alive -- indeed, when I was born at the end of the 1950s, there were still a few people alive who had started life as slaves. So the idea that this is all just ancient history that we should no longer be sensitive about ignores how our own era still contained the living memory of slavery until not that long ago. Well into the 1960s and 70s (and maybe longer) people were denied the right to vote, denied the right to live where they wanted to, and denied the right to send their kids to certain schools -- all a direct legacy of the system of slavery that literally treated a slave as less than a full human being (yes, that's how our Constitution mandated that the slave population would be counted).

 

So should it surprise anyone that there are still strong sensitivities about the way white people, like Mr. Disney, chose to portray black people?

 

The excellent biography of Disney by Neal Gabler goes into some detail about the objections that were raised about SONG OF THE SOUTH when it was made, as another poster has noted. So it isn't just the "political correctness" of our modern era in which objections to the movie arose -- they've existed as long as the movie has (indeed, longer, as objections were raised when Disney consulted African American groups before making the movie). From what I've read, I don't think Disney intended to offend anyone with this movie, but his intentions were not realistic, as he would have known had he listened to the people that he consulted.

 

For the record, I haven't seen the movie, so I do wish Disney would release it -- I'd like to see it in part for the same reason that I've seen BIRTH OF A NATION -- to better understand film history. I might find it objectionable just as I find the black face scenes in HOLIDAY INN objectionable -- but I still like HOLIDAY INN very much, and am willing to judge SONG OF THE SOUTH on its merits, too. I understand that material included in older movies may have been innocently intended, even if a more sensitive or even progressive mindset at that time could have yielded a different result.

 

And please, let's not call the absence of a US release of SONG OF THE SOUTH "censorship" -- Disney owns the movie and can do whatever it wants with that movie. Disney isn't preventing anyone else from exercising free expression, so this isn't censorship.

 

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Here is a portion of a post made by someone on the IMDB. He identifies himself as black and does not find SONG OF THE SOUTH to be offensive: ... I guess what some people didn't like was that Uncle Remus was a happy-going person. What was he supposed to do, be miserable and tell stories about how Bre'r Rabbit shot up some heroin and got busted by the cops? Contrary to what liberals will tell you, the vast majority of us (yes, I'm black, AND a Republican...) don't just sit around 24/7 being depressed and miserable because of things that happened to people we never knew, who have all been dead for over a hundred years.

 

The IMDB poster is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he doesn't seem to have a good sense of history. The "people" at issue haven't "all been dead for over a hundred years." When SONG OF THE SOUTH was made, there were still a large number of ex-slaves alive -- indeed, when I was born at the end of the 1950s, there were still a few people alive who had started life as slaves. So the idea that this is all just ancient history that we should no longer be sensitive about ignores how our own era still contained the living memory of slavery until not that long ago. Well into the 1960s and 70s (and maybe longer) people were denied the right to vote, denied the right to live where they wanted to, and denied the right to send their kids to certain schools -- all a direct legacy of the system of slavery that literally treated a slave as less than a full human being (yes, that's how our Constitution mandated that the slave population would be counted).

 

So should it surprise anyone that there are still strong sensitivities about the way white people, like Mr. Disney, chose to portray black people?

 

The excellent biography of Disney by Neal Gabler goes into some detail about the objections that were raised about SONG OF THE SOUTH when it was made, as another poster has noted. So it isn't just the "political correctness" of our modern era in which objections to the movie arose -- they've existed as long as the movie has (indeed, longer, as objections were raised when Disney consulted African American groups before making the movie). From what I've read, I don't think Disney intended to offend anyone with this movie, but his intentions were not realistic, as he would have known had he listened to the people that he consulted.

 

For the record, I haven't seen the movie, so I do wish Disney would release it -- I'd like to see it in part for the same reason that I've seen BIRTH OF A NATION -- to better understand film history. I might find it objectionable just as I find the black face scenes in HOLIDAY INN objectionable -- but I still like HOLIDAY INN very much, and am willing to judge SONG OF THE SOUTH on its merits, too. I understand that material included in older movies may have been innocently intended, even if a more sensitive or even progressive mindset at that time could have yielded a different result.

 

And please, let's not call the absence of a US release of SONG OF THE SOUTH "censorship" -- Disney owns the movie and can do whatever it wants with that movie. Disney isn't preventing anyone else from exercising free expression, so this isn't censorship.

 

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The IMDB poster is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he doesn't seem to have a good sense of history. The "people" at issue haven't "all been dead for over a hundred years." When SONG OF THE SOUTH was made, there were still a large number of ex-slaves alive --

 

I think he is talking about now... about releasing a DVD of the film now.

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The IMDB poster is certainly entitled to his opinion, but he doesn't seem to have a good sense of history. The "people" at issue haven't "all been dead for over a hundred years." When SONG OF THE SOUTH was made, there were still a large number of ex-slaves alive -- indeed, when I was born at the end of the 1950s, there were still a few people alive who had started life as slaves. So the idea that this is all just ancient history that we should no longer be sensitive about ignores how our own era still contained the living memory of slavery until not that long ago. Well into the 1960s and 70s (and maybe longer) people were denied the right to vote, denied the right to live where they wanted to, and denied the right to send their kids to certain schools -- all a direct legacy of the system of slavery that literally treated a slave as less than a full human being (yes, that's how our Constitution mandated that the slave population would be counted).

 

 

Most likely the IMDB poster is younger and he is looking at it from a different generation's point of view. But what I find very revealing about his comments is that he does not want to be enslaved by a political correctness that keeps referencing a time in history that he feels people of color his age have moved past.

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Thanks for the info.    That statement does sound like a cover up.    If Disney really believes 'we want people to see Song of the South' why did they quietly shelve it in the first place?     It looks like they are trying to have it both ways;   appease the people that don't want them to make the film available but pretend that this isn't what they are doing to appease people that feel no movie should be censored.

 

Each year they probably weigh a few dollars on both sides of a scale...... dollars on one side represent how much can be made off a few sales of a DVD of a 70 year old film. The dollars on the other side represent how many dollars will be lost if such a DVD starts a boycott of their other products.

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Each year they probably weigh a few dollars on both sides of a scale...... dollars on one side represent how much can be made off a few sales of a DVD of a 70 year old film. The dollars on the other side represent how many dollars will be lost if such a DVD starts a boycott of their other products.

The other interesting thing about this is that although there were objections when the film was being made and when it was released in '46, it still hit theatres. And it kept returning to U.S. theatres for the next forty years-- so despite all those objections, it was profitable or else it would not have been re-released so many times. It is easy to see that the film was denied a 50th anniversary DVD, because by the time 1996 rolled around, the country was deep in the throes of political correctness-- something from which it has not fully recovered.

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Yep BingFan. You can count me as one who thinks your post contained such a perfectly rational and well worded overview of this issue that it did indeed deserve to be posted twice! ;)

 

(...and I ain't kiddin' here, actually...great post, sir!)

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Most likely the IMDB poster is younger and he is looking at it from a different generation's point of view. But what I find very revealing about his comments is that he does not want to be enslaved by a political correctness that keeps referencing a time in history that he feels people of color his age have moved past.

I'd guess you're probably right about the IMDB poster, but that's exactly the problem in my opinion. What he might see as moving past a time in history that's no longer relevant to him, I see as ignoring a history that still has real-world effects today. But he has every right to feel that way.

 

And calling it "political correctness" implies that there's something less than valid about the particular objection, as if it's just a shallow or knee-jerk reaction that's been expressed without much thought. The "PC" label is just another way of denigrating another person's opinion where there's disagreement. If folks want to disagree, fine, but let's leave out the pejorative labels. (I understand, TopBilled, that you're describing the IMDB poster's view.)

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The other interesting thing about this is that although there were objections when the film was being made and when it was released in '46, it still hit theatres. And it kept returning to U.S. theatres for the next forty years-- so despite all those objections, it was profitable or else it would not have been re-released so many times. It is easy to see that the film was denied a 50th anniversary DVD, because by the time 1996 rolled around, the country was deep in the throes of political correctness-- something from which it has not fully recovered.

 

The country will never fully recover from political correctness (practiced by both sides of politics).   Why?  Because of the Internet, Twitter and other instant forms of communications.    Current forms of communication make it a lot easier to pull together a boycott and therefore more companies are likely to bend to the pressure.    

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