Influencer Who Backed ‘Song of the South’ Under Fire Again

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

From left to right: A Princess Tiana animatronic, a runDisney influencer showing off her medals, the logo for the Wine & Dine 10k, Br'er Rabbit looking surprised. All four images are edited on top of an image of the former Splash Mountain.

Credit: Inside the Magic

runDisney revealed the race themes for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend this week, exciting thousands of runners already prepping for the October and November runs. Because the race series takes place during the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, all three medals are inspired by culinary characters. Unexpectedly, one runDisney race spurred a domino effect of online controversy.

The runDisney 2024 Disney Wine & Dine 5K is themed after the Swedish Chef, a beloved Jim Henson Muppet. The main event, runDisney’s Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, focuses on none other than the Pixar dynamic duo Remy and Chef Linguini from Ratatouille (2007). A bonus medal featuring Chef Mickey Mouse will be awarded to runners who complete both the Half Marathon and the 10K, the Disney Two Course Challenge.

rundisney photo with tiana
Credit: runDisney

But the Wine & Dine 10K theme inspired debate on social media. Inspired by Princess and the Frog (2009), the medal features the first Disney Princess who dreamed of owning a family restaurant. Princess Tiana has previously starred on medals for the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K and Disney Princess Fairytale Challenge as part of multiple Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekends.

Following Tuesday’s announcement, runDisney regular and Instagram influencer Bekah Marie (@rebekahmarie8) shared her thoughts on upcoming race themes. In multiple Instagram stories, Bekah shared her excitement over the Swedish Chef and Remy medals. She was less enthusiastic about Princess Tiana, writing: “more Tiana. not surprised.”

An Instagram story of the Princess Tiana runDisney 10K with a caption from Bekah that reads "More Tiana. Not surprised."
Credit: @Rebekahmarie8 via Instagram

Typically, one person’s opinion on a 10K race theme wouldn’t raise eyebrows. Everyone has their preferences. But long-term followers immediately connected Bekah’s thoughts on the runDisney theme to controversial Instagram stories she posted in 2020.

Soon after Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort announced that Imagineers would reimagine Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Bekah shared her disappointment on Instagram. Beyond being nostalgic for the log flume ride, the influencer defended parts of Song of the South (1946), the racist, banned movie behind Splash Mountain.

Uncle Remus and kids, Disney's Song of the South
Credit: Disney

In one of allegedly many Instagram stories preserved online, Bekah wrote:

“Don’t censor an attraction or movie because you don’t understand its history. I’m honestly so upset about today’s news, more so because people are so quick to jump on bandwagons and now we will be losing a classic. (not to mention, where will we sing ‘Zip a Dee Doo Dah?!) Song of the South is an enjoyable and historically important movie, despite its imperfections in the portrayal of people of color. Those imperfections although were important stepping blocks in making racial equality in films today possible.”

An Instagram story in which Bekah writes: "Don't censor an attraction or movie because you don't understand its history. I'm honestly so upset about today's news, more so because people are so quick to jump on bandwagons and now we will be losing a classic. (not to mention, where will we sing 'Zip a Dee Doo Dah?!) Song of the South is an enjoyable and historically important movie, despite its imperfections in the portrayal of people of color. Those imperfections although were important stepping blocks in making racial equality in films today possible."
Credit: @rebekahmarie8 via Imgur user maksunshine

One viewer alleged that, in another controversial Instagram story, Bekah defended Song of the South because the Br’er Rabbit stories were based on “African Folk Tale retold by slaves in America.” (It’s impossible to confirm these allegations as, unless archived, Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours.)

Song of the South was never considered politically correct, even in 1946. Multiple Black actors refused the lead role, Uncle Remus, concerned that it fed into the “happy slave” and “Uncle Tom” stereotypes. James Baskett, who took on the part, wasn’t allowed to attend the Atlanta premiere because of segregation laws. The NAACP protested its production and release.

James Baskett and Bobby Driscoll in Song of the South
Credit: Disney

Though the mixed animation and live-action movie took place post-Civil War, Walt Disney allegedly ignored suggestions to modernize the dialect, costume design, and sets to reflect the time frame. It purposely muddies the waters about its setting, convincing some viewers that the happy-go-lucky Uncle Remus is a content enslaved person.

Oh, and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah?” The Academy Award-winning song is said to be based on “Zip Coon,” a popular 1830s melody that cheerfully mocked enslaved people for wanting to live free lives like white people.

It’s possible Bekah wasn’t aware of the complete history behind Song of the South, or maybe she disagreed with historians’ interpretations of the movie and its production. Regardless, her publicized support for Splash Mountain and bias against Princess Tiana rubbed many fans the wrong way.

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen looking at each other near the end of 'The Princess and the Frog' Disney animated movie
Credit: Disney

“Leave it to rebekahmarie8, who went on a rant in 2020 about how Song of the South wasn’t racist to be upset about Tiana being a race theme for wine and dine this year,” one reader said.

“Tiana being a race theme is so perfect,” another replied. “…This blows my mind. It’s not that serious but just say you hate black ppl and go. literally what is her reason for hating Tiana.”

Bekah poses in front of Splash Mountain.
Credit: @rebekahmarie8 via Instagram

When Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park closed in 2023, Bekah shared a more nuanced take on the upcoming retheme:

“Splash Mountain held so many fond memories and nostalgia for me, as it was one of the first rides I remember going on at WDW as a kid. From family vacations, to working for TWDC, it was always a must do when visiting the parks with family and friends. 💦🪵🐰🐻🦊

But change is a good thing! And I cannot wait to see what the imagineers have in store for this ride! See you on the bayou! 🐸”

What’s your take on the runDisney Wine & Dine race themes? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments!

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