Sorry Racists: Disney Still Won't Stream 'Song of the South'
There's a whole lot of hidden or secret film out there that's piqued the curiosity of tons of people throughout the years -- Jerry Lewis' Holocaust clown movie, Leo DiCaprio's worst nightmare, and then the unique case of Song of the South. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Song of the South is a Disney movie made right after WWII and based on a series of old-timey African-American folk tales called the Uncle Remus Stories. The central plot is that a little boy named Johnny who finds out his parents are getting a divorce and decides to run away from home. Classic Disney fodder. He then runs into the titular Uncle Remus, who uses some fun animated stories to illustrate potential solutions to Johnny's problems and convince him to go home.
These folk tales aren't in themselves exactly what's offensive, it's how the milk-white Disney studios of the time made them look. To Disney's credit, it's set in the Reconstruction Era, so they show that the storytelling Uncle Remus isn't like, actually officially a slave, simply a sharecropper working on a plantation. But holy shit, the way Uncle Remus' lines are written, it's every bad stereotype of how a white person in the 1940s must have imagined an 1870s black man sounded like. Almost as bad is how nice Disney makes the plantation look -- you can almost understand how naive sorority girls from Georgia would want to have a wedding at one in the 21st century.
Naturally, this controversy has had Disney on its heels for the better part of 70 years. They've locked it in their "Disney Vault" and kept it from widespread release, though if you dig around the internet or (like I do) have a deeply southern grandmother with an old VCR recording, there are ways to see bits and pieces that you can more or less piece together if you're really that invested. Even the Song-themed Splash Mountain rides at Disneyland and Disney World keep their ride plots limited to the animated parts of the film and are reasonably unclear as to how any of it could possibly be racist before yeeting its log flumes off a cliff and into a pool of frigid water.
Anyway, the dawn of Disney+ seemed to open a new opportunity for people who are "just curious what it's about, jeez" to ask if maybe, they could get a chance to see Song of the South on the new streaming service. The end of The Mandalorian and this fresh retirement of Disney CEO Bob Iger brought this question right out in the open, and Iger has now firmly denied that it'll ever be shown on the service, saying the film is "not appropriate" in today's world. There was some precedence -- other Disney movies on the service, such as Dumbo, have little disclaimers at the beginning of the movies saying, "This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions." Song of the South is so bad, even that disclaimer won't cut it.
Good job there, Disney. At this point, all we can say is, "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Zip-a-dee-aye! Wonderful feeling, wonderful day!"