Thursday, May 7, 2009

Song of the South

I am procrastinating by sitting here on the computer instead of cleaning out yet another cabinet. The laundry room is screaming out to me. But, Thursday afternoons have typically been my time to catch up on the computer.

This afternoon Cavett begged me to watch Disney's "Song of the South," (1946). Yes, you read it correctly. "Song of the South" has been banned in the USA, but thanks to our Unlce John who is living in China, he found us a bootleg copy.

Now, I remembered the animated parts of the movie, and so I thought I had seen it all in my very young childhood, but now I am thinking I only saw the animated parts. You know--Zippety-Doo-Dah and the Tar Baby. I was surprised to see the live-action framework around the animation. It takes place on a plantation in Georgia in the late 1800's. In watching it, I am wondering, really? Why is this banned? It is no worse than "Gone With the Wind." In fact, I think it paints a better picture of Uncle Remus (the black servant/slave) than any I have seen. He is wise and smart and has some great teachable stories to share.

There is class warfare going on, but it is historical. If we don't learn from history we are destinded to repeat it. If anything, I think that it depicts the white people worse! The "neighborhood" white little boys, Joe and Jake, are just awful in their words and deeds to others and their own sister. Joe and Jake are meant to resemble Br'er Fox or a "Cracker" and Br'er Bear "a big Bubba" from Uncle Remus's stories. Hello...cracker? Isn't that deroggatory toward whites? Nowhere in there is the use of the "N" word. When the film was first released, the NAACP acknowledged "the remarkable artistic merit" of the film. I'm not saying the film isn't without inaccuracies, but was there really a need to never release it in the USA?

Johnny, the main little boy character, befriends not only the little sister, but also a little black boy. If that is not racially and culturally tolerant, maybe I have my definitions wrong. Good grief.

I think James Baskett, Uncle Remus' character is one of the best actors ever. His eyes and smile tell you all you need to know. He is someone you just want to hang out with. It seems that the Academy also thought the same thing as they gave him an honorary Oscar in 1948.

Either way I love hearing the southern draw come out of Cavett's mouth..."Br'er Rabbit".


Allison said...

Max loved Splash Mountain at Disney World and asked what "movie" it was from since most of the rides are from movies. I told him it was an old movie that isn't on DVD yet. I wasn't sure how to explain that you can't get it anywhere. But, I agree with you. I remember the movie from when I was little and I don't see the harm in it....there is a lot worse stuff out there these days.

Nora Greer said...

Jennifer, I just had to comment! My mom and I were singing "Zippety Doo Dah" to the kids just yesterday and we could not think of the name of the movie! I am so glad I happened to be reading your blog so I could put our minds to rest!