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Disney's wrestling with its racist history on Disney Plus

Jul 5th 2020, 8:35 am
Posted by sheilatoom
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Disneyland's classic ride Splash Mountain.


Disneyland's Splash Mountain, a water-based log ride through scenes of cute rabbits, bears and foxes, is currently the target of several petitions on Change.org. Activists are lobbying for Disney to retheme the attraction first launched in California in 1989, because its music, characters and location are all drawn from Disney's racially problematic movie, 1946's Song of the South.

The combined live-action and animated musical, set on a southern plantation after the end of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery, has been criticized for glorifying plantation slavery and pidgintionary.wikiafrimedia.org promoting black stereotypes.

While former Disney CEO Bob Iger said in March that Song of the South is "not appropriate in today's world" and would never be on Disney Plus, the film's famous song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah remains a feature of Splash Mountain.

"Some of the songs and the characters are still very much part of the Disney legacy, so it's a very strange situation," says Jessica Balanzategui, a lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology, who specializes in childhood, history and national identity in global film and TV.


1946's Song of the South with Br'er Rabbit and Uncle Remus.


"A lot of us would be familiar with some of those characters and some of the popular songs without ever having seen the original film."

In the current moment, where the fight for racial justice and the dismantlement of systemic racism has reverberated through the media, some companies have taken steps towards change, including alerting audiences to prejudiced or racist material in their back catalogue.

HBO Max recently pulled 1939's Gone with the Wind, a monument of American film history, criticized for featuring black stereotypes and romanticizing the South during the era of segregation.


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