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» Wednesday, March 28, 2007Disney and Song of the South
Song of the South Release Mulled Despite Possible Controversy
Pappas said it's not clear that the movie is intentionally racist, but it inappropriately projects Remus as a happy, laughing storyteller even though he's a plantation worker.So Remus' fault is that he's happy at his work? People who do manual labor for other people can't enjoy their work? My uncle spent his entire life being a gardener at a country club, where I daresay many rich snobs looked down on him. Wasn't it okay for him to enjoy his job? He did anyway, even if twee WASPs might have seen him as "just another wop."
I've seen Song of the South. And yes, it's full of depressing stereotypes as, unfortunately, were most films of that time. But as Leonard Maltin points out in The Disney Films, despite the stereotypes and the dialog, James Baskin's Uncle Remus is certainly a better mentor to little Johnny than his neglectful, self-absorbed parents. He actually cares for the child and is a superior role model compared to people who are supposedly his "betters." Within the absurd and demeaning strictures of the time his Remus has dignity, which is more than anyone can say for the indignity Butterfly McQueen had to endure with poor featherheaded Prissy. I didn't see anyone blocking the DVD release of Gone With the Wind, or Shirley Temple's The Little Colonel, which, despite the classic stair dance, contains some of the worst stereotypes ever placed on film.
Song of the South is now a living history lesson. Let us make use of the lesson, not suppress it.