Song of the South release speculation

Since Bob Iger’s interesting announcement at the Walt Disney Company shareholders meeting,

"The question of ‘Song of the South’ comes up periodically, in fact it
was raised at last year’s annual meeting …" Iger said. "And since
that time, we’ve decided to take a look at it again because we’ve had
numerous requests about bringing it out. Our concern was that a film
that was made so many decades ago being brought out today perhaps could
be either misinterpreted or that it would be somewhat challenging in
terms of providing the appropriate context."

there has been a growing expectation that the movie would be released on a special edition DVD. Now an AP story is adding fuel to the fire. (For an example read the comment thread at the Orlando Sentinel)

Its my feeling that Disney is being irresponsible by not releasing Song Of The South. Hiding it in the closet this long is giving the movie more importance than it otherwise should have. The movie is what it is. We can’t learn from the past by ignoring it. If the film is racist it needs to be explained why. Its merits as an artistic endeavor also need to be debated. Information wants to be free and in the free market of information that the internet has created everyone will be able to participate in the discussion.

Song Of The South was last shown in US movie theaters in 1986, which is not that long ago that its memory has faded, but long enough to be shrouded in the mist of time. But all we have now are faded video copies and a couple generations who haven’t seen the film at all. It is possible now to design a DVD that includes bookend statements, as well as special features, that make this DVD a ‘teaching moment’. That’s the angle the Walt Disney Company should be taking. If Disney does not want to be responsible for the final product, they can license the film for a one-time DVD release to the AFISA Animation Archives and make it a fundraiser for that excellent organization.

3 thoughts on “Song of the South release speculation”

  1. I think Disney is too big a company and these days too closely connected with “profits over quality” for them to release it without controversy. Disney has a reputation of re-re-re-releasing old stuff in order to “make money” rather than because something is “artistic” (Monkeys Go Home anyone?!) If the movie is deemed as racist or offensive, many people would view it as Disney profiting off of inappropriate material, and releasing it to make some cash despite its contents.

    Personally I don’t know what side of the fence I fall on because I’ve never seen it.

    Even though I love Disney, I know the modern day Disney Company never intends to lose money on anything they do, so at the end of the day I could only view a re-release as “leveraging back-catalog product to maximize earnings potential”.

  2. I don’t see why they would release it at Disneyland Paris (which they did) on DVD and not in the US. It is just ridiculous and it is time to stop making a mountain out of a molehill. Of course, the muckrakers in the press (CNN, FOX, MSNBC) will probably have a field day with the reasoning for the delay in releasing the film in the first place.

  3. I’ve had a VHS copy for several years. It’s really not as offensive as its reputation has become. The longer it stays hidden, the worse its reputation will be. So they showed happy slaves? Wasn’t that true of dozens of other movies from early Hollywood?

    I like what Warner Bros. did with their Looney Tunes collections and, specifically, the Speedy Gonzales cartoons. The discs start off with a clip from Whoopi Goldberg explaining that stereotypes are never good, but that in the past movie and cartoon makers did not take such care to avoid the negative stereotypes.

    Disney can simply hire Whoopi, or Chris Rock, to explain to us idiots that slaves weren’t really happy, and slave owners were all evil Satan worshipers.

    And then put one of those FastPlay things on it so I can skip over it because my kids already understand all of that.

    Just release the darn film already!

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