Walt Disney Co( NYSE: DIS) has furthered erased references to its controversial 1946 “Song of the South” by removing the bronze statue of Br’er Rabbit, an animated character in the film, from its pedestal in the Walt Disney World Hub.
What Happened: The Hub near the Cinderella castle has been home to a selection of bronze statues based on beloved Disney characters. While the theme park made no official announcement of the statue’s departure, the blog Walt Disney World News reported its removal with before-and-after photographs of the statue’s pedestal, which now stands conspicuously absent amid other statue-bearing pedestals in the display.
Br’er Rabbit can still be seen at the Splash Mountain ride in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, which was inspired by “Song of the South,” but its presence there is also time-limited. The parks are recreating the attraction to be themed after the 2009 feature “The Princess and The Frog.”
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Why It Happened: “Song of the South” has been a sore point for Disney since it premiered, when civil rights groups complained that its presentation of the Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus stories perpetuated insulting stereotypes of Black Americans and idealized the social conditions of the post-Civil War South.
Disney kept the film in U.S. theatrical circulation through 1986; Splash Mountain, with its “Song of the South” imagery, opened in 1989. But while the studio released the film on home entertainment formats in Europe and Asia, it refused to make it available for sale in the U.S.
However, bits and pieces of the film, including its Oscar-winning song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” have been included in Disney home entertainment releases, and Br’er Rabbit and other “Song of the South” characters turned up in the 2011 video game “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures” for the Xbox 360.
Over the years, Disney has resisted requests to bring back “Song of the South” in circulation with the “outdated cultural depictions” disclaimer that the studio has put on other classic films with politically incorrect content. Last year, Executive Chairman Bob Iger repeated the company’s self-imposed ban on “Song of the South,” insisting it would not be included on the Disney+ streaming service because it was “not appropriate in today’s world.”
Photo: Joe Penniston / Flickr Creative Commons.
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