29 September 2001 | Gazzer-2
This Disney Classic Deserves To Be Re-issued!
I think it's a great shame that the 1946 Walt Disney classic, "Song Of The South," has been banned in the U.S. because some civil rights groups **15 years ago** complained that the movie was racist and they did not want it to be shown anymore. And Disney, not wanting to offend anyone, bowed down to their demands and yanked the film from public viewing in North America, where it has not been seen since. The only way you can watch "Song Of The South" now is if you still own a laserdisc player and you're willing to spring for a costly Japanese import disc, OR if you manage to track down a UK VHS copy of the film released in 1997 and have it transferred. Well, having viewed a transferred VHS copy of "Song Of The South" recently, I can honestly say that this is a marvelous Disney movie that is NOT racist and does NOT deserve to be hidden away.
While I can certainly understand the concerns of the civil rights groups over "Song Of The South," the fact that the movie is set during the turn-of-the-century South when many blacks served subservient roles is NOT a good enough reason to hide the film away from the public. This is not an issue of racism, it is simply a historical fact. Furthermore, the black characters in "Song Of The South" are all treated with respect. They are not treated badly, nor are they spoken to badly. Further still, are we going to destroy all copies of "Gone With The Wind" just because it features a black maid? Think about it.
What also upsets me about the shunning of "Song Of The South" in the U.S. is that most Americans will now never get to see anymore the marvelous performance of James Baskett as the loveable storyteller Uncle Remus (and Baskett DID win an Honorary Oscar for his fine work in this film, lest we forget). Nor will Americans ever get to see again the wonderful Disney artistry on display in "Song Of The South" that perfectly blends live action with animation (the very first film to do so, if I'm not mistaken). They won't get to enjoy the hilarious adventures of Brer Rabbit ever again. Nor will they be able to sing along with the Oscar-winning song, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" anymore. All of this, in my opinion, is very, very shameful.
I strongly implore Walt Disney Productions to reconsider re-issuing "Song Of The South" in North America, if *only* for a limited time on home video, so anybody Stateside who wants the film can finally have it. And with all due respect to the civil rights groups who complained about "Song Of The South" back in 1986, I strongly implore them to seriously rethink the ban that they had Disney place upon the film. On the Grammy telecast this past year, just before mega-controversial rapper Eminem took the stage to perform "Stan," the Grammy president came onstage to give a little pep talk about freedom of speech & freedom of expression. He said that we cannot ban certain artists and their work just because it makes certain people uncomfortable. The EXACT same thing can be said for Walt Disney's "Song Of The South."