Disney+ promises to be the hub for the iconic brand’s past and present on-demand content — but not all oldies will be streaming.
The 1946 film Song of the South will not be offered on the $7-per-month service and the Jim Crow scene in 1941’s Dumbo will be edited out, Boardwalk Times reports and The Hollywood Reporter confirms. That’s because both have been deemed racist — Song of the South for its portrayal of African-Americans working on a plantation and serving their white masters and the Doo-wop singing crows, one of which was actually named Jim Crow, a reference to the racist laws that allowed segregation.
Disney’s stance on both of these has been clear. While Song of the South inspired the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain, it was taken out of circulation and never released on home video in the U.S. Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed the decision in 2011, saying, “It was made in a different time... I just felt that there are elements to the film, while it was a relatively good film, that wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today.” And while the company could profit from the film’s release, he added, “Sometimes you make sacrifices on the financial side to do what you believe is right.”
In Dumbo’s recent live-action remake with Tim Burton at the helm, the crow scene was completely deleted, explaining it was the “animated equivalent of performing in blackface.”
The reaction to this decision has been controversial for a litany of reasons. First, of course, some people don’t think it’s fair that Disney is throwing away history — despite the fact that it’s clearly offensive.
This country is in deep trouble. Throw away all our history while you’re at it 🙄
— Tom Wagner (@TWagner64) April 22, 2019
That comes with the typical argument that our country has become too politically correct.
Very interesting in these PC times that we live in.... pic.twitter.com/6zwrglx2vz
— ─═ єĞĞ𝐬 Δ𝓒𝐊lεЎ ═─ (@Hammersteam) April 23, 2019
And there are the people who don’t see anything wrong with either film.
Is it bad that I see nothing wrong with Song of the South? And I never seen the crow scene in Dumbo.
— RobiselU (@RobiverseU) April 23, 2019
Perhaps the more surprising reaction, and one that is strong, is from people who want Song of the South released — and the crows left in Dumbo and the Siamese Cats in Lady and The Tramp (which are seen as mocking Asians). “I want that,” wrote one commenter. “As a reminder.” To take it out is a “white wash.”
This might surprise some folks but I WANT Disney to release "Song of the South" and I WANT them to leave in the Crows and the Siamese Cats.
I WANT that.
As a reminder...this is currently a white wash...
— Grizz Robinson (@BizarroTheBear) April 24, 2019
There are also people who think this move is an effort on Disney’s part to “pretend that racism in their past doesn’t exist” and believe not releasing it is a form of white-washing.
So Disney wants to pretend that racism in their past doesn't exist. Just put fucking disclaimers on both films and call it a day. https://t.co/7tqSvndvST
— ZAK (@Zakiyyah6) April 22, 2019
I’m unsure about this - should #historical #artefacts such as films be #censored and edited for modern audiences? Is it just another step in the creation process? Or is it part of a ceremony of mass forgetting of past crimes?#Disney#DisneyPlushttps://t.co/9x4yq1UMHH
— Dr. James Harry Morris (@JHMorris89) April 24, 2019
Also, not releasing it is more about whitewashing Disney's troubling past than it is a stand against racism.
— Rafael (@Rafael_AAze) April 23, 2019
Super disappointed if Song of the South isn't on Disney+, but you better not touch Dumbo. I hate it when they censor old cartoons and take out all the racism. You don't get to pretend that stuff never happened, white people!
— Eli Sanza (@ejunkie2014) April 19, 2019
Counterproductive I think. And to be honest we are kidding ourselves if we believe corporate Disney has a moral compass that extends beyond the financial bottom line. They don’t want to be included in the racism conversation, end of...
— Historyland. (@LandOfHistory) April 23, 2019
Additionally, there are those, like the one suggesting a disclaimer be put on the films, who think that — instead of omitting — it could be a “teachable moment.”
If Disney had any guts they would leave it in and preface the movie with something about racism, why it was thought to be okay then, how what they did is wrong, how it must and can be avoided in the future. This could be a HUGE teaching moment BUT as I said, if they had any guts. https://t.co/Of2kTYZQdQ
— AlwaysBeWoke (@AlwaysBeWoke) April 23, 2019
If Disney is going to scrub racism from its films, let's delete the 'What Makes The Red Man Red' sequence from Peter Pan, Sebastian from Little Mermaid, the Siamese Cats from Lady & The Tramp, the Siamese Cat in Aristocats and much of Pocahontas. https://t.co/h2O3IHOywh
— Loren R. Javier (@lojav) April 22, 2019
Disney+ is set to launch on Nov. 12. It will have 25 original series in its first year, including Star Wars and Marvel spinoffs. However, it will be capitalizing on nostalgia by streaming classics like The Little Mermaid and Toy Story.
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