Disney+ will not make “Song of the South” or the Jim Crow scene from “Dumbo” available for streaming

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies, Movies & TV

Disney+ Song of the South and Dumbo's Jim Crow

Credit: Disney

When Disney+ debuts in November, fans will be able to watch every Disney film ever released…well, almost every film. Disney recently shared that “Song of the South” and the Jim Crow scene from the original animated film “Dumbo” won’t be available for viewing on the new streaming service.

Disney previously announced their plans to open up the vault of Disney films to Disney+ subscribers, but “Song of the South,” the controversial 1946 film criticized for its portrayal of African Americans, won’t be one of those films. The film has never been released for home video in the U.S., so the decision to keep it from Disney+ is consistent with Disney’s policy regarding the film.

Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, spoke about the decision not to release “Song of the South” in one of the company’s annual meetings back in 2011, sharing that parts of the film “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today,” and “it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain.”

Song of the South
Credit: Disney

If you aren’t familiar with “Song of the South,” here’s some context. The film, based on the book “Uncle Remus,” takes place after the Civil War and follows a young boy named Johnny, who moves to his grandmother’s plantation. There, he meets the character of Uncle Remus, an African American working on the plantation who teaches Johnny lessons through stories about the animated characters of Brer Rabbit and company.

Though the film won an Oscar for its song “Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah,” it has long been criticized for its glamorized portrayal of plantation life, as it insinuates that African Americans were happy to be working for their white masters. Even though the characters and hit song inspired the fan-favorite attraction Splash Mountain in the Disney Parks, the film’s content has caused it to never be released for home video and rarely seen by consumers.

Jim Crow from Dumbo
Credit: Disney

Interestingly, Disney has also shared that the Jim Crow scene from the original animated film “Dumbo” will also not be made available on Disney+. While the film will be available for streaming on the platform, it will not include the infamous scene in which a bird named Jim Crow provides Dumbo with his black feather and he and the rest of the crows teach the Dumbo to fly.

Like “Song of the South,” this scene has long been criticized for its racial insensitivity. The name Jim Crow refers to the racist segregation laws in place in the U.S. until the mid-1960s (for reference, “Dumbo” hit theaters in 1941). At this time, Disney has yet to comment further on the removal of this scene from the film on Disney+.

While it’s understandable and commendable for Disney to want to keep their new streaming service free of racist content, many fans have pointed out the problem with erasing the content altogether. As Screenrant points out, it can be argued that to remove offensive and controversial scenes or content from previously released films is, in a way, to sanitize history and possibly erase the mistakes that Disney has made in the past. One Twitter user even shared how Warner Brothers handles insensitive Looney Toons content. Take a look at the Tweet below:

The question that remains, however, is whether insensitive content belongs on a family-friendly streaming service at all. It’s worth noting that not all content on Disney+ will be family-friendly.

Disney announced earlier this month that the company’s acquisition of Fox officially means that consumers will be able to stream “The Simpsons,” “Deadpool,” and other more adult content on Disney+. So while racist content (specifically films like “Song of the South,” which have been banned from home video) shouldn’t be available on Disney+, not every show or film on the streaming service will be kid-friendly, either.

What do you think of Disney’s decision to keep content such as “Song of the South” and the Jim Crow “Dumbo” scene off of Disney+? Share your thoughts with us!

Source: Boardwalk Times, Screenrant

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dottie

    As a child, I saw Song of the South in the theater. My children have watched the movie as well as Dumbo. While the things in this movie are sensitive, you can’t change history. These things did happen. Splash Mountain made so much more sense to my kids once they saw the movie. Unless we make an issue of it, I don’t believe that children will pick up any racial undertones. Just my opinion.

  2. Avatar

    Vinette

    Release Song of the South & leave that scene in Dumbo. These movies are made for kids , not adults. Kids don’t get the “adult” stuff in these movies.
    Adults if you’re offended by it then you can choose not to watch it. You look at any movie or kid show & someone will find something “offensive” in it.
    These movies were made from the heart & pure at a much different time then we live in now. Accept them as they are or just don’t watch them. I would love to see Song of the South in the spirit it was created in.

  3. Avatar

    Thomas

    I had ‘Song of the South’ on VHS as a kid (in the UK), and I remember liking the movie. I would like to see it shown again eventually, it may not be easy-viewing but as others have commented, kids won’t necessarily notice the racial tones, I know I only watched for the Brer Scenes. As for editing out the Crow scene in ‘Dumbo’, again, I get the racial thing, but surely that’s a key scene in the entire movie, Dumbo finding himself in the tree and the crows giving him the magic feather. They might as well not have ‘Dumbo’ available on the Disney+ thing if they’re going to cut one of the key parts of the story.

  4. Avatar

    Scotty The Rabbit

    The article by the Boardwalk Times cited no sources and was all-in-all a rumor that was for some reason picked up by The Hollywood Reporter and The AV Club. There is zero truth to it

  5. Avatar

    Stephen

    There are a ton of Racist references in the older Disney movies. The “What makes the Red Man Red” song in Peter Pan is way more racist than anything in Song of the South in my opinion.

  6. Avatar

    Forest

    SOTS was released in 1946 not ’64, and it was last released on VHS home video in 1986

    1. Avatar

      Eric

      actually song of the south was last seen in theaters in 1986 and went back to the vault

  7. Avatar

    Christopher

    While I understand racial sensitivity in modern society, it makes me sick to my stomach that the sensitization of classic Disney continues. Slavery is, and always will be, a part of this country’s makeup. We learned about it in school. We saw it portrayed in all of its ugliness in ROOTS, which was a major television event. I think it makes more sense to educate our children about our past as opposed to shielding them from it. Even when Disney released Aladdin to video, they altered the lyrics in the opening number because they considered insensative! Give us a break already! Our history is not perfect, but it is ours. Stop changing it so that future generations are duped into thinking so.

  8. Avatar

    eric

    if you removed the crow scenes in dumbo the movie will be less than an hour, no one will buy it on dvd and blu ray anymore, everyone will be sad and eventually they will not see it on disney plus either.

  9. Avatar

    Loretta

    There are loads of movies that are out there with slavery it is part of our history so not showing song of the south isn’t going to erase that so why hide it let it be seen they still have gone with the wind. Roots and current movies out I don’t believe in slavery but I know it happened and I know there is racism I don’t think that will ever be truly over sadly but there is that from every culture and race Disney dosent want to steam that but they will put in gay undertones in movies like the new beauty and the beast I know there are gays and that is totally fine but don’t think it needs to be thrown in kids shows so bring out song of the south people will fuss over everything look what Disney did in pitch took out the selling of woman in that spot that happened in those days but I’m ok it is out of the ride b but people need to get over there selves they look for anything they need to look in the mirror

    1. Avatar

      Taylor S Barnett

      Also @loretta did you really just compare gay representation to racist stereotypes?

    2. Avatar

      b0nni3

      @Loretta is an example of what “part of the problem” means…

  10. Avatar

    Chrystie

    I have song of the south on DVD and my 10 year old has seen it. I think they should release it. History is history for a reason good and bad we as society have learned from it. Song of the south represents characters from one of our favorite WDW rides and it was hard to explain the characters without seeing the movie. I agree with placing the warning before and letting people decide for themselves whether or not to see these films.

  11. Avatar

    Todd Ripley

    These films and scenes are racist. They are problematic. Showing them as entertainment instills a subconscious message that racism is okay for kids. With that said, erasing and sanitizing the past is not how we improve the present. I think disclaimers and additional scenes with commentary about the content would do much greater good for society. Instead of saying “that’s bad” take a minute to explain the dark times and why it is no longer acceptable. Teach children that misrepresenting people and cultures can damage and hurt society. Be part of the solution, don’t just sweep the problem under the rug.

  12. Avatar

    I’m just wondering why they haven’t remade Song of the South. They have been remaking movies that haven’t needed a remake for years now. These american stories from the south are being lost. Why have they not made just a Cartoon Brer Rabbit movie? Erasing the ‘objectional’ content, is having the effect of erasing a culture’s representation in media, and that can be harmful too.

  13. Avatar

    Taylor S Barnett

    You realize gay kids exist right

  14. Avatar

    Pam

    Uncle Remus was not a slave in the movie. All of the white adults in the movie are idiots and Uncle Remus is the only nice/good adult in the story. The stories of B’rer Rabbit and B’rer Bear originated in African folklore and were transmitted to the United States by African slaves…they were THEIR OWN stories. So…where is the racism??

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