You probably haven’t seen Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South, but you’ve definitely heard it. Its signature song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” won a 1947 Academy Award, and the Br’er Rabbit animation sequences have been used in several TV spots and Disney specials over the years. But there’s no denying the fact that by today’s standards, the film is rather racist. Set in the post–Civil War South, the movie — in which a former slave named Uncle Remus regales children with amusing stories — depicts an offensively “idyllic” master-slave relationship, as the NAACP once described it. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. considered the feature’s depictions of happy slaves an “insult to American minorities.” Disney has declined to release the film on video in the U.S., fearing an outcry over the crude stereotypes.
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