See This Movie, If You Can Find It
Song of the South is a Disney movie my sister and I probably shouldn't have seen. We lived in Belgium as children, where the film was released on VHS. For the longest time, I kept wondering which Disney movie was "the one with Br'er Rabbit and the bull" but nobody knew what I was talking about. Song of the South is about an old black guy, Uncle Remus, who used to be or still is a slave it's not that clear, telling Br'er Rabbit stories to the young white master and his black friend on a plantation in the deep south. The thing is that little kids, like my sister and I, don't catch the unfortunate implications. I was shocked to find out it was banned in the states, and you should have seen the looks on my sister and I's faces when we realized it was set in the deep salve south and the kid was Uncle Remus's young master. The thing is that it's not about master-slave relations, really at all. It's just set in the South back in the day where slavery was a fact of life. As for the story, it was very very entertaining. Br'er Rabbit was endlessly crafty, the stories (which were animated) were clever and funny. Also when the little boy gets gored by a bull it's probably one of the most frightening moments in a Disney movie I've ever seen. It was live action, so you see the bull charging across the field at the kid and it's truly frightening, or it was when I was seven. Due to availability issues I haven't seen it since then but the fact that I still remember it attests to its memorability. Honestly, as forbidden fruit goes it's not that bad. Maybe I was too young to catch all the unfortunate implications but it feels like the racism is there as an inevitable product of the setting. Maybe Disney could have set it well after slavery, but the Br'er stories are historically African in origin and came into Southern lore because of slaves. I will say that maybe the story where Br'er Rabbit makes a tar baby (an honest to goodness baby made out of tar) is a bit much but otherwise it's no worse and actually less sad then Fox and the Hound, another little known Disney classic.
It's actually supposed to be just after the Civil War, so Remus and the others are no longer slaves but hired farmhands (though the practical relationship is quite similar). I agree that the movie doesn't make this clear enough.
20th May 09
29th Jan 12
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