Should Disney Re-release Song of the South?

25 Mar

The interweb’s on fire with discussions about a potential re-release of Song of the South. Bob Iger makes a small comment at the Disney shareholders’ meeting (AP News), and the world turns upside down. The Disney Blog just brought my attention to a particularly hateful discussion thread about the AP article above, which ran in the Orlando Sentinel.

If Disney does choose to re-release Song of the South, I have little faith that any commentary or analysis they provide could possibly give sufficient context to this film. So, anti-racist activists like myself may well have to refresh and expand our knowledge of slavery, to educate ourselves and those around us. One cannot understand how hurtful and destructive the stereotypes perpetrated by this film are without understanding what slavery was, and how deeply our country is still injured by it.

From Wikipedia:

Slavery is a social-economic system under which certain persons — known as slaves — are deprived of personal freedom and compelled to perform labour or services. The term also refers to the status or condition of those persons, who are treated as the property of another person or household. Slaves are held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase, or birth, and are deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation in return for their labour. As such, slavery is one form of unfree labour.

People often talk about some owners being “good” to their slaves. What part of holding people against their will, depriving them of the right to leave or even to compensation, can possibly be called “good?”

Darn good thing that slavery is a thing of the past, right? Well . . . the BBC might have a few things to say about that in their series, Slavery Today.

Still, people will continue to clamor for Disney to re-release Song of the South. You can get the European release on eBay, and anybody with a bittorrent client’s already downloaded it anyway.

Here’s what I’d like to see: Disney grants ownership of Song of the South to Amnesty International, with proceeds from any re-release earmarked for anti-racist work and fighting modern-day slavery worldwide. I’d trust AI to provide commentary and context, and if I chose to purchase the DVD I’d know that the money would support social justice. Heck, it might even make me feel better about riding Spash Mountain again.

One Response to “Should Disney Re-release Song of the South?”

  1. TGTBY2 March 25, 2007 at 7:48 pm #

    its frustrating to read some of that commentary yet i know half the people i work with every day can’t understand why the confederate flag probably shouldn’t be flying at state institutions… sigh…. there was just an article in the local paper here too about SOS

    nothing new, just touching on the same issues. should they release it? well, i do agree that if it is so “bad”, then why is it ok in europe? additionally, as you had written about and i had commented on too, its not like other disney “product” isn’t rife with similar issues- peter pan, el river de tiempo (!), splash mountain – pretty much any disney heroine (don’t hit me anybody) is like a barbie doll waiting for her prince to save her (even if she saves herself there all pretty damn perfect looking) (not that THAT compares to slavery in any way)…

    i like your suggestion.

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