It’s the question that’s been on every old school Disney fan’s mind, ever since the announcement of Disney+. Will “Song of the South” be included in their vast and (until now) all-encompassing movie library when it launches on November 12th?
If you’re like me, you have vague memories of seeing Uncle Remus in the classic Disney Sing Along Songs: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah VHS. (Repeatedly, mind you.) But growing up, I still never knew what movie it was from. Was this a music video themed after Splash Mountain? What’s all the mystery about?
A quick search will land you on some grainy, obscure clips on YouTube, and I once stumbled upon a back-alley bookstore in Georgia that sold DVDs of the enigmatic film (imported from Japan) like contraband:
Well, according to an exclusive from the Boardwalk Times, it is being said that “Song of the South” will not be featured in Disney’s new streaming service. The Jim Crow scene in 1941’s “Dumbo” will also be edited out for the digital library. The matter of why is far more complex. As mentioned earlier, Song of the South inspired an entire E-ticket attraction, and was featured in various Disney Sing Along Songs home video editions. The song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” even won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
“Dumbo” is considered by many to be a Disney animated classic, and the remake was recently tailored for modern audiences. “Song of the South”, however, has been locked in the Disney vault since the 1980s due to its racist and idyllic portrayals of Southern plantation life in the late 1800s Reconstruction Era.
Bob Iger spoke about the decision to keep “Song of the South” on lock during the company’s 2011 annual meeting. He mentioned that the film “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today” and that “it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain.”
Whether this is more about Disney being receptive to modern audiences or covering their tracks is a matter of lengthy debate, but at least we have some answers now. The Walt Disney Company has declined to comment since the publishing of the Boardwalk Times piece. We’ll keep you updated if any changes take place to the Disney+ policy.