SONG OF THE SOUTH: Asinine Disney Censorship!

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by One-Shot Scot, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Since Disney has abandoned all interest in ever doing a North American
    home video release of its wonderful _Song of the South_ (1946), is it
    still morally wrong to want to see this important part of film of
    history? We've all been teased with bits and pieces of this movie:
    Nearly everyone knows the words to Johnny Mercer's "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah"
    and most children are familiar with Disney storybooks featuring
    illustrated versions of Uncle Remus' tales of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox
    and Br'er Bear.

    I finally got the opportunity to purchase 2 DVD copies of Disney's
    banned _Song of the South_ from 2 different eBay sellers. Both of these
    DVDs came from now-you-see-it, now-you-don't eBay listings, but both of
    the sellers quickly delivered the DVDs as promised, even though I
    received notification that eBay had cancelled their auctions. These DVD
    listings then reappear and disappear again. The weekends appear to be
    the best time to find them.

    The 2 DVDs came from 2 different sellers, with different homespun box
    artwork and DVD labels, but their DVD contents and quality are
    identical:

    Blue Cover: A wide blue boarder with the top reading "The Best Movie
    Collection" surrounds a color picture of Johnny, Uncle Remus, Ginny
    and Br'er Rabbit.

    Orange Cover: An orange and yellow sunset is shown behind Johnny,
    Uncle Remus, Ginny Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear.

    The picture and sound quality of these burned DVDs is totally
    acceptable, but they are definitely not up to the high standards of what
    Disney has produced on DVD. The subtitle-free source appears to be a VHS
    tape, (the Japanese LaserDisc has burned subtitles during the songs) but
    some kind of line doubling appears to have been used, because, while
    fine detail and color depth are lacking, the overall clarity of the
    picture is better than normal VHS.

    The Extras include the 1972 TV trailer, 1986 theatrical trailer and a
    15-minute 1946 radio plug featuring Walt Disney, Johnny Mercer, Bobby
    Driscoll, Luana Patten, James Baskett and June Hutton (of the Pied
    Pipers) who sings "Sooner or Later."

    After twice watching _Song of the South_, I can say that this is a
    wonderful movie that both adults and children can enjoy. The animated
    Uncle Remus episodes are outstanding. In spite of Disney's morbid fears
    that _Song of the South_ is politically incorrect and racially
    offensive, there is NOTHING truly objectionable in this movie.

    For example, in _Gone With The Wind_ we think nothing of seeing Hattie
    McDaniel playing Mammy, Miss Scarlett's pre-Civil War slave servant and
    hearing Miss Scarlett's slave servant Prissy called "a simple-minded
    darky." There is nothing anywhere nearly as offensive as this in _Song
    of the South_.

    In _Song of the South_, Hattie McDaniel plays her traditional servant
    role, but she is not a slave, she is a paid servant in the post war
    South. When nobody tries to stop Uncle Remus as he runs off to
    Atlanta (with all of his possessions, in a horse-drawn wagon), it is
    obvious that he is not a slave and that he owns personal property.

    It's true that _Song of the South_ does have some problems which Disney
    probably finds embarrassing:

    *** *** ***

    Disney's 20th century re-creation of Harris's frame story is much more
    heinous than the original. The days on the plantation located in "the
    United States of Georgia" begin and end with unsupervised Blacks singing
    songs about their wonderful home as they march to and from the fields.
    Disney and company made no attempt to render the music in the style of
    the spirituals and work songs that would have been sung during this era.
    They provided no indication regarding the status of the Blacks on the
    plantation. Joel Chandler Harris set his stories in the post-slavery
    era, but Disney's version seems to take place during a surreal time when
    Blacks lived on slave quarters on a plantation, worked diligently for no
    visible reward and considered Atlanta a viable place for an old Black
    man to set out for.

    Kind old Uncle Remus caters to the needs of the young white boy whose
    father has inexplicably left him and his mother at the plantation. An
    obviously ill-kept Black child of the same age named Toby is assigned to
    look after the white boy, Johnny. Although Toby makes one reference to
    his "ma," his parents are nowhere to be seen. The African-American
    adults in the film pay attention to him only when he neglects his
    responsibilities as Johnny's playmate-keeper. He is up before Johnny in
    the morning in order to bring his white charge water to wash with and
    keep him entertained.

    The boys befriend a little blond girl, Ginny, whose family clearly
    represents the neighborhood's white trash. Although Johnny coaxes his
    mother into inviting Ginny to his fancy birthday party at the big house,
    Toby is curiously absent from the party scenes. Toby is good enough to
    catch frogs with, but not good enough to have birthday cake with. When
    Toby and Johnny are with Uncle Remus, the gray-haired Black man directs
    most of his attention to the white child. Thus Blacks on the plantation
    are seen as willingly subservient to the whites to the extent that they
    overlook the needs of their own children. When Johnny's mother threatens
    to keep her son away from the old gentleman's cabin, Uncle Remus is so
    hurt that he starts to run away. In the world that Disney made, the
    Blacks sublimate their own lives in order to be better servants to the
    white family. If Disney had truly understood the message of the tales he
    animated so delightfully, he would have realized the extent of
    distortion of the frame story.

    *** *** ***

    And let's not forget that Tar Baby! Surely, someone will take exception
    to that.

    Oh well. The world didn't come to an end in 1946 when _Song of the
    South_ was first released. Somehow Europe and Japan survived home video
    releases of _Song of the South_ and I think that the United States would
    be very receptive to a Disney DVD release of this important movie.

    It just doesn't make sense that we can have Eddie Murphy, Spike Lee and

    Chris Rock, but we can't have _Song of the South_.

    In the meantime, I'm glad that _Song of the South_ is available on DVD
    for those who really want to see it. Everything is satisfactual --
    almost.

    http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/sots.htm
     
    One-Shot Scot, Dec 5, 2004
    #1
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  2. One-Shot Scot

    JMKAUFFMAN Guest

    JMKAUFFMAN, Dec 5, 2004
    #2
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  3. One-Shot Scot

    RnR Lesnar Guest

    I'd bet there's a 2006 Disney Treasure that will have it to coincide with
    the 60th Anniversary.
     
    RnR Lesnar, Dec 6, 2004
    #3
  4. One-Shot Scot

    Mike Kohary Guest

    I heard this from a reliable source also...it sounds like a great candidate
    for a "Treasures" collection, along with commentary and discussion over the
    elements of the picture that haven't stood the test of time so well.

    --
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Mike Kohary mike at kohary dot com http://www.kohary.com

    Karma Photography: http://www.karmaphotography.com
    Seahawks Historical Database: http://www.kohary.com/seahawks
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
    Mike Kohary, Dec 6, 2004
    #4
  5. One-Shot Scot

    JMKAUFFMAN Guest

    along with commentary and discussion over the
    That's exactly what I've been told is in the works.

    The Truth About Frances Farmer:
    http://hometown.aol.com/jmkauffman/sheddinglight.html
     
    JMKAUFFMAN, Dec 6, 2004
    #5
  6. One-Shot Scot

    unclejr Guest

    That's probably because less eBay employees work on weekends. ;-)
    The film was captured from the Hong Kong LaserDisc, not the VHS tape.
    There is a HK SOTS LD up for auction on eBay at the moment (for a mere
    $1,100 that is!):

    <http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=6346144075>

    The DVD that you describe was captured from the HK LD played on an RCA
    LDR600 LD player into a Matrox RT-2000 capture card. The resulting
    AVI files were encoded to MPEG-2 with TMPGEnc, and the assets were
    authored with Sonic's DVDit! PE, IIRC.

    The Hong Kong SOTS LD is the exact same film transfer as the UK PAL
    VHS tape. In fact, if you press your pause button while playing your
    DVD, you will see overlapping still fields -- a tell-tale sign of a
    PAL-to-NTSC transfer. Also, the film runs a few minutes shorter than
    the NTSC-mastered Japanese LD -- another indication that the HK LD is
    a PAL-to-NTSC transfer.
    I believe that the 1972 TV trailer was on 16 mm film and had a severe
    case of Vinegar Syndrome before it was digitized. You can tell that
    the original film elements of this trailer were substandard as
    compared to the rest of the DVD.

    The Johnny Mercer radio spot is really a "composite" of two of the
    three commonly downloaded spots from Christian Willis's site
    (www.songofthesouth.net). The one spot that is completely missing on
    your DVD is the one where Johnny is interviewing Walt Disney and
    Donald Duck (Uncle Walt is providing the voice for Donald I believe).
    Did you find the Easter Egg? It is in this menu where you will find
    it.
    However, SOTS was marketed maily to children as family entertainment.
    GWTW was marketed to adults -- a big difference in the eyes of those
    who object to the legitimate release of SOTS on DVD IMHO.

    -Junior
     
    unclejr, Dec 6, 2004
    #6
  7. <<That's probably because less eBay employees work on weekends. ;-)>>

    Yeah, it takes eBay half a day to find the listings and remove
    them. And I shouldn't have called them auctions, because all of them are
    "Buy It Now" -- before it's too late. Then, a couple of days later,
    another 50 _Song of the South_ DVD listings appear again.
    <<The film was captured from the Hong Kong LaserDisc, not the VHS tape.
    There is a HK SOTS LD up for auction on eBay at the moment (for a mere
    $1,100 that is!):>>

    I didn't know that there was such a thing. You would need to sell a lot
    of bootlegs to pay for it.

    <http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=6346144075>

    <<The DVD that you describe was captured from the HK LD played on an RCA
    LDR600 LD player into a Matrox RT-2000 capture card. The resulting AVI
    files were encoded to MPEG-2 with TMPGEnc, and the assets were authored
    with Sonic's DVDit! PE, IIRC.>>

    <<The Hong Kong SOTS LD is the exact same film transfer as the UK PAL
    VHS tape. In fact, if you press your pause button while playing your
    DVD, you will see overlapping still fields -- a tell-tale sign of a
    PAL-to-NTSC transfer. Also, the film runs a few minutes shorter than
    the NTSC-mastered Japanese LD -- another indication that the HK LD is a
    PAL-to-NTSC transfer.>>
    <<I believe that the 1972 TV trailer was on 16 mm film and had a severe
    case of Vinegar Syndrome before it was digitized. You can tell that the
    original film elements of this trailer were substandard as compared to
    the rest of the DVD.>>

    The 1972 trailer does indeed look like total crap. The 1986 trailer
    looks a lot better.

    <<The Johnny Mercer radio spot is really a "composite" of two of the
    three commonly downloaded spots from Christian Willis's site
    (www.songofthesouth.net). The one spot that is completely missing on
    your DVD is the one where Johnny is interviewing Walt Disney and Donald
    Duck (Uncle Walt is providing the voice for Donald I believe). Did you
    find the Easter Egg? It is in this menu where you will find it.>>

    Actually, I think I found 5 Easter Eggs. I didn't know that each of the
    5 song posters surrounding the Johnny Mercer page could be selected to
    play full-length versions of the songs. Or, maybe I didn't find the
    Easter Egg at all. Did I miss it?
    <<However, SOTS was marketed maily to children as family entertainment.
    GWTW was marketed to adults -- a big difference in the eyes of those who
    object to the legitimate release of SOTS on DVD IMHO.

    Thanks for this wealth of information. I think this must be the most
    complete documentation that has ever been done for a bootleg DVD. I'm
    really glad that I finally got a copy of _Song of the South_.

    -Junior
     
    One-Shot Scot, Dec 6, 2004
    #7
  8. One-Shot Scot

    G. M. Watson Guest

    ----------
    That's exactly what I've been told is in the works.
    [/QUOTE]
    My, my, whatever will Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton say??
     
    G. M. Watson, Dec 6, 2004
    #8
  9. One-Shot Scot

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Mike Kohary, Dec 6, 2004
    #9
  10. One-Shot Scot

    watsona Guest

    Actually, I think I found 5 Easter Eggs. I didn't know that each of
    the
    Yes, you did. Select the upper-right-hand song (Everybody's Got a
    Laughing Place, I believe) and the song will play and the cursor will
    go to the bottom of the menu. Press up twice to select the same icon
    again, and voila... Easter Egg. Enjoy!

    -Junior
     
    watsona, Dec 6, 2004
    #10
  11. One-Shot Scot

    watsona Guest

    Actually, I think I found 5 Easter Eggs. I didn't know that each of
    the
    Yes, you did. Select the upper-right-hand song (Everybody's Got a
    Laughing Place, I believe) and the song will play and the cursor will
    go to the bottom of the menu. Press up twice to select the same icon
    again, and voila... Easter Egg. Enjoy!

    -Junior
     
    watsona, Dec 6, 2004
    #11
  12. One-Shot Scot

    watsona Guest

    Actually, I think I found 5 Easter Eggs. I didn't know that each of
    the
    Yes, you did. Select the upper-right-hand song (Everybody's Got a
    Laughing Place, I believe) and the song will play and the cursor will
    go to the bottom of the menu. Press up twice to select the same icon
    again, and voila... Easter Egg. Enjoy!

    -Junior
     
    watsona, Dec 6, 2004
    #12
  13. One-Shot Scot

    watsona Guest

    Actually, I think I found 5 Easter Eggs. I didn't know that each of
    the
    Yes, you did. Select the upper-right-hand song (Everybody's Got a
    Laughing Place, I believe) and the song will play and the cursor will
    go to the bottom of the menu. Press up twice to select the same icon
    again, and voila... Easter Egg. Enjoy!

    -Junior
     
    watsona, Dec 6, 2004
    #13
  14. One-Shot Scot

    George Guest

    I have a DivX.avi copy of this movie that I downloaded from Kazaa. The sound
    and picture quality is not good but hey it's an old movie.

    I'm trying to convert it to DVD but it won't load into Ulead movie Factory,
    nor will it load into Studio 8. I've tried to convert it to mpeg through Fx
    MPEG writer but again it won't load, giving me a message about the codec
    being "play only".

    Any ideas on where I can go from here?

    George
     
    George, Dec 7, 2004
    #14
  15. WinAVI will convert an AVI to DVD very easily.

     
    Colin McFadyen, Dec 7, 2004
    #15
  16. <<Yes, you did. Select the upper-right-hand song (Everybody's Got a
    Laughing Place, I believe) and the song will play and the cursor will go
    to the bottom of the menu. Press up twice to select the same icon
    again, and voila... Easter Egg. Enjoy! -Junior>>


    I can't thank you enough for the follow through on this one. This is the
    best Easter Egg of all time!

    Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs!!! That mean old queen had everything.
    (Judging from the hoards of tires, sugar and coffee that old gal had,
    I'd say that this cartoon was made around 1943-44.)

    This thing is a howl! And it's a Bob Clampett cartoon, no less, with a
    Johnny Mercer soundtrack that really bops!

    After drinking from her bottle of Eli Whitney Cotton Gin and eating from
    her box of Chattanooga Chew-Chews, the old queen sings "Magic mirror on
    the wall, send me a prince about six feet tall."

    And sure enough, that jitter-bugging, dope dealing pimp, "Prince
    Chawmin", shows up in his pimpmobile. But So White gets his attention
    and this pisses off the old queen. So she calls Murder Inc. to black out
    So White. The side of the car reads:

    Murder Inc.
    We Rub Out Anyone $1.00
    Midgets -- 1/2 Price.
    Japs -- FREE

    At the end it says:

    Merrie Melodies
    "That's all Folks!"
    Produced by Leon Schlesinger
    Released by Warner Bros. Pictures Incorporated.

    I don't remember this cartoon being on any of the Warner DVDs.
     
    One-Shot Scot, Dec 7, 2004
    #16
  17. I'm still waiting for an uncut BLACK CAULDRON...
     
    Vlvetmorning98, Dec 7, 2004
    #17
  18. Gee, I wonder why...

    It's highly unlikely Warner will *ever* release this, but then they used
    to say that about Der Furher's Face and Disney.

    But there were a few decent quality copies of Coal Black released on
    VHS via underground video labels. I've got two different ones myself.
    That's likely where this copy came from.

    swac
     
    Stephen Cooke, Dec 7, 2004
    #18
  19. ca...
    <<Gee, I wonder why...>>

    <<It's highly unlikely Warner will *ever* release this, but then they
    used to say that about Der Furher's Face and Disney.>>

    <<But there were a few decent quality copies of Coal Black released on
    VHS via underground video labels. I've got two different ones myself.
    That's likely where this copy came from. swac>>


    I hope you're right about the easing of censorship.

    I think that Spike Lee would be the perfect master of ceremonies for a
    "Bamboozled" type of cartoon presentation:

    We were bamboozled by Warner Brothers, Disney, MGM, Dave Fleischer and
    others. To prove this point, all of the formerly-banned racist cartoons
    of the 20th century should be restored and presented in an extensive DVD
    collection.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035743/usercomments
     
    One-Shot Scot, Dec 7, 2004
    #19
  20. One-Shot Scot

    RnR Lesnar Guest

    What was cut from the current release?

    I recently bought it on DVD. I had never seen it before. It is definitely
    not Disney's worse. It's actually pretty good. Home on the Range is by far
    the worse of the Disney animated movies.
     
    RnR Lesnar, Dec 7, 2004
    #20
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