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John Byrne

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Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 121600
Posted: 21 December 2019 at 2:29pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Agreed it’s racist, and moreso with every passing decade, but why is SONG OF THE SOUTH bad while GONE WITH THE WIND is a “classic”?

SNOPES

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Paul W. Sondersted, Jr.
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Joined: 17 April 2004
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Posted: 22 December 2019 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I originally saw Song of the South in the 70's when I was under 10.

I loved it at the time, but it was probably because I was completely unaware of the racial stereotypes being depicted.

I loved the interactions between the characters, especially the Uncle Remus character telling stories to the children. I pictured myself with other children listening adoringly to Uncle Remus tell his stories.

Now that I'm much older & wiser (HEY!), I can see why aspects of it is considered stereo-typically racist.

I've read a book by Jim Korkis, Who's Afraid of the Song of the South? which delves deeply into the making of the film... Unofficially, of course. Very interesting read.

I WANT to read the following book by Jason Sperb, Disney's Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South. I found it in Kindle format for under $15, so when the budget permits, I will read it.

That said, as a kid I grew up more or less oblivious to racial hatred, at least on my part. I saw inklings of it here & there, but I didn't give an it-shay about skin color. All I knew was that I had friends of many different colors & I had fun with them all.

I remember seeing Song of the South with my friends & the theater was filled with all kinds & we had a great time.

The story apparently takes place shortly after the end of slavery in the U.S., so would racial stereotypes be really out of place? Are we judging the past via the "sensibilities" of the present? Should we bury what should simply be a lesson about history?

Mind you, I haven't seen the film in years. Were there scenes that I just can't recall in which people of color were treated poorly? Or is it just because of the speech patterns used?

Bottom line... Was the film really as bad as some are making it out to be? My memories (what's left of them!) tell me otherwise.
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Dave Kopperman
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Joined: 27 December 2004
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Posted: 22 December 2019 at 4:08pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I've no idea why "Gone With the Wind" gets a pass.  Maybe because it wasn't originally intended for kids, so it can withstand a bit of controversy?  At any rate, I can't even watch it.  The racist caricatures are bad enough, but the whole structure surrounding it basically is just a glorification of the Antebellum South, which, pfft.

I've been thinking about "Song of the South" and what Disney could do with it.  Socking it away isn't the right answer, particularly if they don't go all the way through with it and remove any and all traces of it from their theme parks.  I think what they COULD do with it would be to a) make it public domain, then b) co-sponsor something like an exhibit at the Smithsonian Nat'l Museum of African American History and Culture about the entire spectrum of black representation in the history of American media, and also possibly c) sponsor a scholarship for black students with (at minimum!) the adjusted inflation total profits for the movie and related things, like park admission receipts.

Hiding it is no good as it sets a bad precedent for what to do with art that has become culturally outdated, and whitewashing the corporate history is simply dishonest.  Might as well get in front of it and do some good.  I like where Disney stands in general as a company that promotes diversity.  This could really crown off Iger's reign as a CEO.
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Stephen Churay
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Joined: 25 March 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 8364
Posted: 22 December 2019 at 5:13pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I saw it just a month ago. (Arrrgh, ye
scoundrels.) While there are definitely
characters that can be considered
stereotypically black, there is also
stereotypical white trash and
stereotypical white privilege. Uncle Remus
and the young black child, are the most
reasonable and human of all the
characters. In fact, the ultimate message
of the film is tolerance and inclusion. I
think its racist tag isn't very deserved.
If it has any guilty of any sin, its that
its boring.
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Koroush Ghazi
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Joined: 25 October 2009
Location: Australia
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Posted: 08 January 2020 at 5:40pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

JB - I guess my answer would be that Gone With the Wind isn't aimed at children, and doesn't try to pass off the racial stereotypes and the situation as a whole as "normal"; Song of the South does.

 Paul W. Sondersted, Jr. wrote:
I was completely unaware of the racial stereotypes being depicted.


And that's the point. I grew up in the early '70s listening to one of these dubious "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby" read-along records, based on Song of the South:



As a 6 year-old in Australia, having had zero real-life encounters with African-Americans and obviously no true knowledge of the circumstances, I happily accepted that this is the way black people talked and (inter)acted with white folk. It isn't of course.

Now Disney isn't doing this for the sake of morality, it's obviously all part of their plan to make themselves as revenue-, sorry, family-friendly as possible ;)

It disturbs me though that so many people expend so much energy on discussing the so-called censorship Song of the South, and rally around it. Much the same way that some (many?) of the same people want to see monuments to Southern Generals "preserved". Something tells me these fine preservationists would be OK with seeing, say, a 14th century copy of the Quran, used to light a BBQ, or not raising a peep if '60s civil rights footage was mysteriously lost forever.
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Doug Jones
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 08 January 2020 at 11:37pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Stephen: In fact, the ultimate message of the film is tolerance and inclusion.
--
 
That is most definitely not the ultimate message of the film. Not even close. 
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David Allen Perrin
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Joined: 15 April 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 3078
Posted: 09 January 2020 at 3:04pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

“Tolerance and inclusion?”

Yeah, I think I’ve had enough internet for today.
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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
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Posted: 09 January 2020 at 4:10pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Even if you bracket the obvious racism, GONE WITH THE WIND isn't much of a movie, IMO.
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Koroush Ghazi
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Joined: 25 October 2009
Location: Australia
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Posted: 09 January 2020 at 6:36pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It's actually a very boring movie, when all's said and done. I bought a cheap copy on BD 8 years ago and I've watched it only once.

But I struggle to see it as promoting racism in the modern era. If anything, and obviously, this is just my subjective opinion, watching Gone With the Wind with modern eyes highlights just how farcical and unsettling notions of "Southern nobility" actually were.

When Scarlett O'Hara performs that final scene, to me it's the saddest ending. A grown woman acting like a silly child loses someone she cares about, and ultimately, with a crazy, delusional look in her eye, only finds strength in the notion of trying to regain past glory.

I don't know, it hardly seems a glowing endorsement of that way of life.
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Bob Simko
Byrne Robotics Security

Negative Mod

Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 09 January 2020 at 8:05pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Kinda the point
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John Byrne

Imaginary X-Man

Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 121600
Posted: 09 January 2020 at 8:12pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

You really think so, Bob? Granted, I have not seen the whole movie, but decades of hearing and reading about it, coupled with what I have seen, presents another glorification of the “Old South” and a tragic contemplation of that way of life being lost.

This is, after all, GONE WITH THE WIND, not UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.

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Rebecca Jansen
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Joined: 12 February 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 2088
Posted: 09 January 2020 at 10:31pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Have never been able to see the movie. All I knew was the Brer Rabbit comics, and thought they all must be neighbors of Pogo possum... don't recall Uncle Remus appearing in the comics (and the Pogos with Bumbazine were pretty early). I would like to see it, probably on DVD with perhaps some introduction and/or supplementary historical information.

I could not stand to watch Gone With The Wind the few times I tired when i was younger... all that fiddle-dee-deeing; I just thought it was awful. Finally as an adult I managed to make it through the whole thing, I guess you need to have some kind of historical context on various levels, and I didn't have that earlier, just seemed like a crap bunch of characters. I would rather not watch it again, but glad I made it through once. My favorite southern set films are going to be Member Of The Wedding, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Midnight In the Garden Of Good And Evil. Maybe add the The Glass Menagerie with Joanne Woodward.


Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 09 January 2020 at 10:33pm
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