A couple weeks ago, Disney announced their entire strategy behind their forthcoming streaming service, Disney+, set to launch on November 12th. In addition to unloading all of their Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel titles, they also confirmed that they’ll be cleaning out their highly coveted Disney vault, which means all of their animated features and classics, ranging from 101 Dalmations to Mary Poppins to probably even Man of the House.
Although that sounds like a total content dump, there is a curation process to the service, and part of that will ensure none of the Mouse House’s skeletons ever re-emerge from the closet (you know, outside of Disney’s Halloween Treats). In other words, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, they’re keeping their more offensive and racist offerings in the past, most specifically 1946’s Song of the South.
The film, which won a best original song Oscar for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and continues to confuse kids unfamiliar with the characters that appear in Disney World’s Splash Mountain, has been heavily criticized over the years for its portrayal of African-Americans. So much so that Disney has never released it on home video in the States; however, the award-winning song has appeared in several releases.
That’s not all. The outrageous Jim Crow character from 1941’s animated classic Dumbo — you remember, the talking crow that not-so-subtly referenced the blackface spokesman for segregation laws in the wake of the Reconstruction era — has also been scrubbed. And before you start to wonder if Tim Burton placed the character in his film, rest assured, he had the wherewithal to know that would totally be a case of Bad Idea Jeans.
To be fair, this has been the policy for years. As the Boardwalk Times suggested (via THR), CEO Bob Iger broached the topic back in 2011 during the company’s annual meeting, where he suggested titles like Song of the South “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today” and that “it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain.”
Yeah, no shit.