By Jason Sperb
The Walt Disney corporation bargains an enormous universe of flicks, tv exhibits, subject parks, and item, all rigorously crafted to offer a picture of healthy family members leisure. but Disney additionally produced some of the most notorious Hollywood motion pictures, Song of the South. utilizing caricature characters and dwell actors to retell the tales of Joel Chandler Harris, SotS portrays a kindly black Uncle Remus who tells stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and the "Tar child" to adoring white kids. Audiences and critics alike chanced on its depiction of African american citizens condescending and superseded while the movie opened in 1946, however it grew in popularity—and controversy—with next releases. even if Disney has withheld the movie from American audiences because the overdue Nineteen Eighties, SotS has an enthusiastic fan following, and items of the film—such because the Oscar-winning "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"—remain all through Disney's media universe.
Disney's so much infamous Film examines the racial and convergence histories of Song of the South to supply new insights into how audiences and Disney have negotiated the film's controversies over the past seven many years. Jason Sperb skillfully lines the film's reception historical past, exhibiting how viewers perceptions of SotS have mirrored debates over race within the higher society. He additionally explores why and the way Disney, whereas embargoing the movie as a complete, has repurposed and repackaged components of SotS so greatly that they linger all through American tradition, serving as every thing from cultural metaphors to shopper products.
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Additional resources for Disney’s Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South
In addition to analyzing various versions of Song of the South, my research draws heavily on periodicals, such as newspaper and magazine articles from the past, in order to articulate as complete a vision as possible of the specific historical moments in question. This means that my work often depends on the writings of columnists, critics, spokespersons, and other people in positions of power. While such critics and activists reveal a limited, even elitist, view of certain events, which risks marginalizing others, they nonetheless provide a valuable historical glimpse into particular cultural attitudes of the past.
Yet making the film when they ultimately did revealed a shockingly tin ear regarding the activism and racial climate of the time. Many people were thus deeply critical of the racist assumptions in Song of the South, much more than they might have been a decade earlier. This was not a response limited just to African American activists and white liberals. In the pages of mainstream publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, critics and audiences expressed their disappointment and even anger at seeing old stereotypes return in such a prominent Hollywood film so soon after the war had ended.
Audiences. There are in particular three distinct periods characterizing white attitudes toward the progress of the civil rights movement: liberal activism during and after World War II, the “white backlash” in the 1960s and 1970s, and the era of “post-racial” Reaganism that began to settle in during the 1980s and that largely continues to this day. Collectively, they offer a clearer picture of the socially constructed discourse of “whiteness” that has historically shaped the recirculation, reception, and perseverance of a racist artifact like Song of the South.