Good news, Disney fans: Song of the South and Dumbo’s racist crows won’t make it onto Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Song of the South will remain in the Disney vault and won’t appear on Disney+ at all. A film that has haunted many Black Americans, Song of the South is Disney’s 1946 film set in the south during the 1800s. One of the main characters, Uncle Remus (James Baskett) is a sharecropper that befriends the grandson (Bobby Driscoll) of the plantation owners and tells him stories of Br’er Rabbit (voiced by Baskett).
The film has been criticized because of Baskett’s offensive portrayal of the “happy slave” stereotype as well as Hattie McDaniel’s character Aunt Tempy, the mammy figure. Even though both Baskett and McDaniel’s talents lie beyond these submissive roles, racism in Hollywood forced them to play these types of roles in their careers.
Dumbo, however, will be on Disney+, but the scene featuring a crow named Jim Crow, a play on the blackface character whose name became synonymous with the south’s segregation laws after Reconstruction, will be cut from the streaming release. In the original 1941 film, a group of crows, voiced by both Black and white actors, ridicule Dumbo because of his ears. The crows are in the vein of minstrel characterizations and the dialect makes fun of AAVE, which is now recognized by some as a distinct language separate from Standard American English (SAE).
Earlier, we reported that Disney head Bob Iger said that the entire collection of films in the Disney vault would be put on Disney+ and we questioned whether it would include these racist offerings. Here’s what Iger said at the time:
“…At some point fairly soon after launch it will house the entire Disney motion picture library, so the movies that you speak of that traditionally have been kept in a vault and brought out basically every few years will be on the service,” he’s reported to have said according to a March TechCrunch article.
Photo credit: Disney