DCML digest, Vol 1 #103 - 6 msgs

Gerstein, David DK - ECN DGE at ECN.egmont.com
Wed Mar 8 15:05:29 CET 2000

	Hey Horizon,

>i don't think people object to the song of the south cartoons so much as
>presentation of the slaves in the feature film from which the cartoons
>They are shown as happy, contented "workers" -- not as slaves

	Workers, not slaves.
	That's absolutely right...
	...because (as the film's shooting script and various novelizations
make clear) the film is set in the 1880s, two decades *after* the end of
slavery. The problem is that it's not made particularly clear, so many
viewers assume that the black characters in the film are supposed to be

	Of course, even as workers, African-Americans of the 1880s led
pretty dismal, racism-ridden lives. SONG OF THE SOUTH is a mixed bag in that
case. We do see that Johnny's (white) parents do treat Uncle Remus quite
unfairly - so unfairly that he plans to move away, which makes them change
their tune. On the other hand, the movie unfortunately shows the other black
farm workers as content with their lot and looking up all-too-reverently to
their white employers.

	In light of this mixed bag, it's interesting to read Walter Koenig's
book _Mouse Under Glass_ (an analysis of Disney films published in recent
years). It talks about how SONG OF THE SOUTH represents a battle between two
scriptwriters: one more liberal, one more old-fashioned. The liberal writer
wanted to make the plantation impoverished, with its owners owing money to
the black farmhands - and the farmhands protesting this, forming one of the
plot's major crises. The old-fashioned writer wanted to do an old-style
plantation stereotype.
	The old-fashioned writer had more power, and got his way. What a
shame, for SONG OF THE SOUTH's live sequences aren't just somewhat
stereotypical; they're as boring as they come.

	David Gerstein

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