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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 24, 2010 / 11 Sivan 5770

Let Uncle Remus Go

By Greg Crosby



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | From the time I was a kid my favorite movies were the Disney films. Movies like "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Peter Pan," and "Song of the South" were among my favorites. As I sat there in the dark of the theater I imagined myself soaring through the skies high above London with Peter Pan, cuddling with my mother like Dumbo did with his, or sitting at the knee of Uncle Remus as I listened to his wonderful stories of Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox.


At some point I made up my mind that I wanted to work for the Walt Disney Studio. I wanted to be part of the team who made the movies which made me feel so good, that made me laugh, cry, and want to sing. I finally got my wish and was hired by the studio in 1970. I spent the next 27 years contributing to the Disney culture of great family entertainment, first as a cartoonist, then as a writer, and finally as a creative executive.


There were no politics or messages, just pure joy in the entertainment we created. We made stuff that (we hoped) people would find funny, heartwarming, and uplifting. Characters with personality and stories with heart - that was the Disney formula. Those characters and stories, many of which were created decades ago, still live and talk to the kids of today, just as they talked to me when I was a kid. Kids still dance with Snow White and fly with Peter Pan, but sadly today's kids don't have a clue who Uncle Remus was.


"Song of the South" has been kept out of the U.S. public arena for around 25 years, a decision made by the Disney Company because of complaints that the movie was racist. What a shame that one of Walt Disney's greatest achievements has been locked away from public view. Back around 1986 civil rights groups demanded that the film be taken out of distribution and not shown anymore. The company complied and has kept it out of circulation ever since.


Granted, "Song of the South," was made in 1946, when attitudes concerning racial stereotypes were much different than they are now. But the same can be said of "Gone with the Wind," and dozens and dozens of other pictures which depict blacks, Asians, and American Indians in ways that we would never do in movies now -and yet those movies are shown all the time while "Song of the South" has disappeared.


Let's set the record straight about the picture. This movie is not racist. The black characters in "Song of the South" are all treated with respect. They are never treated badly, nor are they spoken to badly. There are NO slave characters in the film. The movie is set AFTER the civil war. The blacks at Miss Doshy's plantation are working employees, NOT slaves.


The film is set during the Jim Crow era, and one can argue that the general quality of life (in terms of housing and education in particular) of black Americans shown was not much better than that of pre Civil War slaves, but that's a part of real history. That's the way it was. To depict it otherwise is to deny the truth of what our country was back then. Furthermore, compared to a lot of black portrayals we see now on TV and movies, the black portrayals in "Song of the South" are absolutely dignified and stately.


The Uncle Remus character is NOT ignorant. He is a warm, lovable, sensitive man. As a matter of fact, he possesses more intelligence, compassion and common sense than anyone else in the picture, including the white characters. When I watched this movie as a kid in the fifties I absolutely adored Uncle Remus. I wanted to spend time with him, listen to his stories, be his friend.


And speaking of Uncle Remus, it is a travesty that the actor who so brilliantly portrayed him has now been completely forgotten. Most Americans under the age of 35 have never been able to see the marvelous performance of James Baskett as the loveable storyteller Uncle Remus, the role of his lifetime. Baskett won an Honorary Oscar for his fine work in this film, the first black man to win an Academy Award. I can still see and hear him singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" with that animated bluebird on his shoulder. Wonderful stuff! By the way, that song won an Oscar, too.


And as long as this picture remains banned, people will never see the wonderful Disney technical artistry on display in "Song of the South" that perfectly blends live action with animation. The special effects were "state of the art" for its time, and still look spectacular even by contemporary CGI standards.


The cartoon sequences are among the most hilarious ever produced by the studio. Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear - wonderful characters told in stories by Uncle Remus which delivered important life lessons and Aesop fable-like morals along with a truck load of belly laughs.


I wish I could convince the Disney powers-that-be to reconsider re-releasing this classic Disney movie. Walt Disney's "Song of the South" deserves to be seen and enjoyed by all.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby

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