We here at B-is For Best are no strangers to banned films. From The work of Lucio Fulci to A Serbian Film to Cannibal Holocaust we’ve taken a look at quite a few films deemed not suitable for human consumption but today we’ll be discussing a film from a source you may not expect..that’s right ladies and gentlemen I’m talking about the rat bastard himself, patriarch of patricide, king of the cash grab Mr. Mickey Mouse! But what film did Disney yank from the shelves, gag, dismember and forget? Could it be the disgustingly inaccurate celebration of an actual historical pedophile rape and kidnapping that is Pocahontas? Or perhaps they finally cut the horrifyingly gleeful “hunting Wiley Indian” song from Peter Pan? Nope the film we’ll be talking about today was deemed so heinous, so despicably racist and harmful to the black community (whom by the way loved the film when it was theatrically released..but fuck letting them speak for themselves that’s the job of guilty white folks right?) that it NEVER GOT A PROPER HOME VIDEO RELEASE..That’s right, no VHS, no laser disc, nothing. A company who thought it would be just the funniest damn thing ever to put golden cocks on the cover of The Little Mermaid and a priest with an erection in the same film, naked tits in The Rescuers and dead parents in virtually all of their releases (those whom lived were quite literally retarded..nice) actually deemed something offensive enough to completely discard it..So what was this heinous atrocity? Why, Song Of The South of course (I probably ruined that surprise by putting the title in the title of this article..but fuck you, act surprised anyway)
SONG OF THE SOUTH opens with a young boy named Johnny and his parents headed into the deep south to visit the boy’s grandmother. Along the way the boy is clearly excited by the prospect of meeting the legendary story teller Uncle Remus. Upon arriving Johnny’s spirits are smashed when it’s revealed that his father is headed back home for business and will be leaving Johnny and his mother behind. Planning to run away Johnny heads off with a small pack of his belongings only to discover the legend himself, Uncle Remus. Uncle Remus takes the boy on as his charge, regaling him with the tales of Br’er Rabbit and his friends.
Based on the classic Uncle Remus His Songs and Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris (a book that has likewise been banned) Song of The South is a colorful, light hearted tale of the power of friendship in tough times that also has an underlying message that is perhaps even more important: Wisdom and book smarts are not always the same thing.
The character of Uncle Remus on the surface may appear to be a tad bit foolish due to his use of old southern slang and perpetual state of happiness, but he is a man who’s content with his lot in life. In fact Remus is the type of man who delights in all of the wonders the world has to offer. His wisdom comes not from school or hardening himself to the world but from a deep ancient well within himself and an inherent goodness. He is heroic not in the cape and tights sense, not because he saves the world but because he shares what he has, accepts those around him and does what he can to make his little slice of the planet a better place..Even if it’s only by telling his tales to a sad little boy to lift his spirits.
The blend of animation and live action in this movie is breathtaking, especially when one considers this bad boy was made in 1946! It also has some of the best acting, (especially Remus himself who’s knowing smirk, playful gait and baritone voice will stick with you forever) and quite possibly the best soundtrack of any Disney movie EVER. One of the best aspects of this film is the fact that we get not just the story of Remus and Johnny but also the adventures of Br’er Rabbit, The Tar Baby story and many of the other classic tales from the book. This also stands as one of Disney’s most faithful book adaptations ever brought to the screen!
So..What’s with all the fuss? Much like the controversy surrounding the book,activists groups deemed the film offensive due to the character of Uncle Remus whom these groups view as an offensive stereotype. To them the lovable story teller is a caricature of southern black people, gleeful about his subservience to the white man and his life on the plantation…I think these people are missing a number of very important details in the film. Firstly, while Remus and the other black folks in the film do indeed work on and live at the plantation all of them appear to do so not by force but by their own free will. Not a single scene exists in the film where the black people are treated any differently than the whites. In fact Johnny’s Grandmother beams over them and treats all of them like members of her family. We do see some of them performing tasks but since when is black people performing farm tasks automatically racist? Let’s face facts here. The story takes place right after the civil war (if we go by the book..the movie never actually establishes a timeline) While slavery had ended most poor black folks still relied on farm and plantation work as a means to make an income..Why? Because that’s what they knew how to do. Dismissing a time frame as out of hand and/or untouchable for film and books is downright insane. History should not be re-written as not to offend. If there’s any villains at all in this movie it’s the Faver boys, two rednecky (though clearly spoiled and self-entitled) WHITE KIDS….Yeah this movie is totally out to get black people let’s ban the shit out of it
It always shocks me when films like Song Of The South and (on the other side of the spectrum) films like Shaft and Human Tornado are labeled as offensive and “racist” while things like the Madea movies and The Browns are celebrated and considered totally ok. How can we live in a society where portraying black people as completely uneducated morons is totally acceptable (as long as it’s being done by a black director of course) and portraying black people as (while larger than life and exaggerated) role models like Uncle Remus and action heroes like Shaft is somehow offensive? This is an argument I’ve presented many a time and I’m sure that for longtime readers of this site I likely sound like a broken record (Or perhaps a scratched Barry Manilo record..”His name was Rico, He was Rico, He was Rico He was Rico”) but It’s nonetheless true. There’s a darker agenda at work when decisions like banning films like Song Of The South happens. I mean think about it for a second. We’re talking about a film where a young white kid is given wisdom and comfort from a black man..Shouldn’t that be considered a good thing for race relations?
When I was a kid I saw this movie and honestly the fact that Remus was black didn’t even scratch the surface of my brain. You know what did. The fact that he was SMART, WISE, and most importantly KIND. He was a great role model, someone to look up to an aspire to be like. Kids don’t think about race until we, the adults (polluted jack ass minded fools that we are) put it into their minds to do so.
I give SONG OF THE SOUTH two Middle fingers chopped off and sanded to the bone. Disney has truly fucked up by hiding one of their best masterpieces. Saying that Song Of The South is racist is just as ludicrous as taking away Aunt Jemima’s head scarf. I think it’s time that we stop banning the innocent and set our sights on something truly harmful..like skinny jeans on men..not THAT is offensive.. Please, give this one a shot and don’t let the asinine naysayers scare you off!