Sunday, February 17, 2013

White-Washing

... and erasing the past.

Remember the “Tom and Jerry” adventure in which Tom emerges from a pile of coal and then tries to fool maid Mamie Two Shoes into thinking he’s an entirely different cat by shuckin’ and jivin’ his way across the lawn? Or how about when Tom blows cigar smoke into Jerry’s face, slaps an oversized bow tie on him and drops him onto a sizzling-hot plate, forcing the mouse into a Mr. Bojangles routine?

Doesn’t ring any bells? Well, that’s how Hollywood wants it. ...

Disney still refuses to release "Song of the South" on home video to U.S. audiences. ... Disney historian Jim Korkis believes the studio, fearing a severe backlash in the States, is more interested in protecting its image than protecting youngsters. ...

This ain't about protecting delicate sensibilities. The movies are withheld to prop up profit margins. Diz Co. has no problem, after all, in releasing Song of the South in foreign markets. Beyond our shores, it's anything for a smooth buck. Here, it's about protecting the brand and not triggering angry, letter-writing campaigns that might depress attendance in theaters and amusement parks, or lower the public's desire to buy plush toys.

As I've noted before, if you want racial stereotyping, Gone with the Wind offers a much stronger dose of cringe-inducing racism than Song of the South. But GWTW is a bonafide blockbuster. Moreover, it was jointly created by M-G-M and Selznick International, two movie brands that are pretty much kaput as far as the general public is concerned. There is no "corporate image" to protect.

At least, that seems to be the attitude of Time-Warner, the current owner of the title, and TW has no reticence about rolling out Blu-Rays and "Collectors Editions" for the Selznick picture, because there are plenty of eager, willing eyeballs out there, so who cares if Butterfly McQueen is over-the-top in the "hysterical black houseworker" department? Commerce is commerce.

Me, I think our live-action and cartoon history should be out and readily available. And if big corporations need to give either format more context, then by all means let them do so. Teaching the way the country and popular culture actually were once upon a time is a good thing.

4 comments:

Kenneth Elliott said...

Here is the biggest irony in Disney history:

There is a desperate trend in cashing-in on old theme park attractions, but there is a huge refusal to release the movie which Splash Mountain was based off, even though it's a movie EVERY Disney fan wants to see again.

They can keep their Thunder Mountain reboot. They can keep their Haunted Mansion versions 2.0. Just give me classic Disney. Is that so hard? Apparently, it is.

Floyd Norman said...

The fear of black is costing Disney a lot of green.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

It sure does Floyd.

Steve Hulett said...

Again, it's silly. "Song of the South" was released multiple times and nobody cared. It's released globally NOW.

I think they should do a clean digital transfer and release it nationwide. Put a bit of written context in front of it if some exec thinks there's some desperate need.

Problem: Disney CEOs don't want to take any heat.

Site Meter