We were just talking about the prospects for "Song Of The South" at dinner the other night. I believe it’s possible for Disney to release the film for its historical value along with commentaries and special features, as long as it is released through a third party that’s main goal is the preservation of animation history. AFISA comes to mind. All the proceeds could be donated, those who want to speak out against the stereotypes would be given an opportunity to do so in a commentary track.
My friends thought that even if Disney went through all that trouble they would still be targeted by those who stand to further their cause merely through speaking out on controversial issues. For an example of that look at the recent Don Imus conflagration. Disney would get bad PR even if they were doing the right thing. Hopefully Disney could get them on board for a SoTS release as they have the NAACP.
Jeff Pepper at 2719 Hyperion has a unique perspective on the issue coming from a historians point of view. He notes that the last time it was in theaters was 1986 (although imports have been available on the black market).
In the twenty years since, issues of content have escalated into a controversy that has ultimately overshadowed the film itself. In essence, Song of the South has by and large become greater than the sum of its parts. For at its core, and despite having provided the now-iconic strains of "Zip-a-dee Doo-dah" and vivid and colorful animated sequences, it does little to truly distinguish itself from other Disney films of the same time period. And thus comes forth my previously indicated indifference; the film is simply not worthy of all the “legend” it has come to be associated with.
The problem with that, is that people need to be able to make that judgment on their own. If they can’t view the film, the ‘legend’ of it will only continue to grow beyond its already distorted value. The best way to get rid of mystery is to shine a light on it. Disney has a wonderful opportunity to partner with AFISA and other groups and shine some light on what was right with SoTS (the acting, songs, and some of the animation) and what was wrong with it (stereotypes, the gray area around post-slavery plantation workers relationship to the land owner, etc). I wonder if there won’t be some effort to release a restored "Song of the South" about the same time as "The Frog Princess". Kinda put it in there as an example of ‘look how far we’ve come as a company.’