Disney+ To Exclude “Song of the South” and Jim Crow Scenes in “Dumbo” From Movie Library

Jessica Figueroa

Disney+ To Exclude “Song of the South” and Jim Crow Scenes in “Dumbo” From Movie Library

Jessica Figueroa

Disney+ To Exclude “Song of the South” and Jim Crow Scenes in “Dumbo” From Movie Library

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:

Screen Shot 2019 04 23 at 12.30.24 PM
This faded sign was the only thing advertising the DVDs. They kept stacks of them hidden under the register.

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.

15 thoughts on “Disney+ To Exclude “Song of the South” and Jim Crow Scenes in “Dumbo” From Movie Library”

  1. By keeping it hidden, they keep making Song of the South’s reputation more and more unnecessarily toxic. At this point, people are going to assume it’s the most horribly racist, offensive thing ever, and will be surprised by how mild it is if they ever get a chance to see it.

  2. All I have to say is SMH. I’m happy I have a DVD of Song of the south and also the original Dumbo. It’s history Bob Iger. Tired of all this politically correctness. Are we going to start banning Gone with the Wind and all the other classics? I’m pretty sure the world will continue to be in a state of turmoil regardless of removing classic films.

  3. My brother has a copy and while it’s not the best film, its a film about the past, history. Our job is not to lock it away but learn from it. If it’s such a problem why have we not banned Roots? Again, I say this because even though my brother owns it I still haven’t seen it.

    • Because Roots portrays a realistic history of what slavery was. Song of the South is an idyllic vision of the Master/Slave relationship on a Plantation that was neither real or true. Further during and after Reconstruction, during which Jim Crow laws sought to further disenfranchise Africans from voting, property rights or just living.

      • Join the discussion…How do you know it was an unrealistic, idealistic interpretation? I have a close personal friend, who is a historian, who personally did countless hours of research at the Library of Congress in DC. His findings were much closer to the portrayal in Song of the South, than the propaganda you’ve been fed all your life in school textbooks. Besides, Remus was the hero of that film and he was imparting wisdom to the white children. Hardly racist.

  4. Banning Song of the South is disappointing but not unexpected, but I take far greater issue with editing and censoring Dumbo. It’s been released as it originally was meant to be seen for the better part of a century and that scene plays an important role in the plot.

    Learn from the past don’t erase it.

  5. The thing is, if you’re going to display art from the past that is now problematic, you have to put it into context. There needs to be an explanation of where it came from and why is was considered okay – sometimes even forward thinking – at the time it was made. That’s the best practice in museums now. No true art historian wants to ban or destroy past work because it’s no longer appropriate. But you have to provide that context. How does Disney do that here? Within a streaming service aimed largely at children?

  6. why even bother theming an entire attraction out of it if at that point it was already hidden away? no one even has a clue what it’s based on, and that’s the sad part. jut look at it as an old man telling stories to some kids. don’t add or subtract anything else to it. at this point, continuing to hide it away pretending it never existed is stupid.

  7. I think Bob Iger is trying to actually somehow be worse than Eisner. And that takes some doing, believe me. But he’s succeeding. What’s next, banning Mulan because she pretends to be a man, offending those who have done actual operations? If you look hard enough, you can find something in ANY of the Disney movies that would offend someone. Lady & the Tramp and Aristocats both are more racist (to me) than anything in Dumbo. Heck, how many people who’d watch the movie today even know what Jim Crow is referencing? And not only is that scene one of the most important to the plot of the movie, but I’m pretty sure it’s among the last scenes of the movie, so this edited version would just randomly and abruptly end.

  8. The movie has great animation sequences and it shows people of different races and backgrounds getting along and becoming friends by having adventures together. What is so wrong with that. It’s a great message. Uncle Remus is a wonderful character that should be loved by all. He is a great storyteller. As stated before this is supposed to take place during Reconstruction after the Civil War and after slavery. Otherwise Uncle Remus could not have just left on his own accord later in the movie. Yes the African Americans do not speak perfect English in the movie but back then they would not have had the education. It is not making fun of them, it is just showing how things were. Which also shows how much better things are now. Hattie McDaniel also has a great role very similar to the one she played in Gone With the Wind. I think if they would just have a brief disclaimer before the movie it could clear up a lot of misunderstanding. Also no one is forced to watch. You can click on it or don’t….Thankfully we have a burned dvd copy off of an old vhs. Our kids love it.

    • I would say that even though Uncle Remus was in part a racial stereotype–and he was–we still should be able, as you say, to enjoy him for the good things he represents. Instead of censoring him out, educate our children not to swallow the racist element. We’re going to have to do that anyway. We shouldn’t have to destroy a great work of art in the process–and the briar patch animation sequence is one of the greatest things ever put on film.

  9. Rather than completely block out unique, immortal works of art–as Walt Disney’s animation films are–why don’t we educate ourselves, and our children, about racism so they can enjoy those works without being drawn into racist narratives.

    It is particularly heartbreaking to see Dumbo censored for attitudes the vast majority of Americans held at the time, especially given that the crows were portrayed with more generosity and respect than the prevailing view–as intelligent, compassionate, charming, good-hearted–and weren’t condescended to or denigrated, as in such films as “Gone With the Wind”.

    • Added remark: I don’t see why the Disney Co. can’t keep the films, but give an alert that there is possible racist content, just as is done to alert parents about violent and sexual content.

Comments are closed.