By Jason Sperb
The Walt Disney corporation bargains an unlimited universe of flicks, tv exhibits, subject matter parks, and item, all conscientiously crafted to offer a picture of healthy relatives leisure. but Disney additionally produced probably the most notorious Hollywood movies, Song of the South. utilizing comic strip characters and stay 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 youngsters. Audiences and critics alike stumbled on its depiction of African americans condescending and superseded whilst the movie opened in 1946, however it grew in popularity—and controversy—with next releases. even supposing Disney has withheld the movie from American audiences because the past due 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 provide new insights into how audiences and Disney have negotiated the film's controversies over the past seven a long time. Jason Sperb skillfully strains the film's reception heritage, exhibiting how viewers perceptions of SotS have mirrored debates over race within the greater society. He additionally explores why and the way Disney, whereas embargoing the movie as an entire, has repurposed and repackaged components of SotS so greatly that they linger all through American tradition, serving as every thing from cultural metaphors to customer products.
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Additional info for Disney’s Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South
There was perhaps no bigger embodiment of this strategy than the building of Disney-MGM Studios in Florida at the end of 1980s (now called “Disney’s Hollywood Studios”). The third Orlando theme park spatialized Disney’s desire to memorialize and idealize its own history, so crucial to the company’s nostalgic appeal. It also rewrote Hollywood’s heyday as being largely defined by the presence of Disney. Ironically, the park’s depiction of the “golden age” of Hollywood is completely inaccurate. Disney mostly struggled to stay alive through the 1940s and early 1950s—the generic time period that becomes historical pastiche as the overall mise-en-scène of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
When Song of the South finally returned, sixteen years after its last appearance, the racial attitudes of white America had changed as well. 29 The activism that had begun with World War II, and persevered through the spectacle of racial discrimination and violence in the 1950s, was finally paying off. That year marked a landslide electoral victory in Congress for the Democrats and the reelection of President Lyndon B. Johnson. This achievement would lead to the passage of various pieces of “Great Society” legislation in Congress.
While white audiences were much more sympathetic to racial inequities right after the sobering Fascist rhetoric and actions of World War II, there was considerably less support by the 1960s. Meanwhile, Disney’s own rise institutionally was just as significant. This chapter offers a historical variation on Gray’s theory of the media paratext, and closely explores how Disney’s long history of media convergence—television shows, children’s books, musical records, and so forth—worked over subsequent decades to resuscitate Song of the South’s critical and cultural reputation.