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Despite controversy, Disney could unlock 'Song of the South'
lomporecord.com ^ | 03/25/07 | TRAVIS REED

Posted on 03/25/2007 7:43:17 AM PDT by Ellesu

ORLANDO, Fla. - Walt Disney Co.'s 1946 film "Song of the South" was historic. It was Disney's first big live-action picture and produced one of the company's most famous songs _ the Oscar-winning "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." It also carries the story line of the Splash Mountain rides at its theme parks.

But the movie remains hidden in the Disney archives _ never released on video in the United States and criticized as racist for its depiction of Southern plantation blacks. The film's 60th anniversary passed last year without a whisper of official rerelease, which is unusual for Disney, but President and CEO Bob Iger recently said the company was reconsidering.

The film's reissue would surely spark debate, but it could also sell big. Nearly 115,000 people have signed an online petition urging Disney to make the movie available, and out-of-print international copies routinely sell online for $50-$90, some even more than $100.

Iger was answering a shareholder's inquiry about the movie for the second year in a row at Disney's annual meeting in New Orleans. This month the Disney chief made a rerelease sound more possible.

"The question of 'Song of the South' comes up periodically, in fact it was raised at last year's annual meeting ..." Iger said. "And since that time, we've decided to take a look at it again because we've had numerous requests about bringing it out. Our concern was that a film that was made so many decades ago being brought out today perhaps could be either misinterpreted or that it would be somewhat challenging in terms of providing the appropriate context."

"Song of the South" was re-shown in theaters in 1956, 1972 and 1986. Both animated and live-action, it tells the story of a young white boy, Johnny, who goes to live on his grandparents' Georgia plantation when his parents split up. Johnny is charmed by Uncle Remus _ a popular black servant _ and his fables of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox, which are actual black folk tales.

Remus' stories include the famous "tar baby," a phrase Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain and Mitt Romney were recently criticized for using to describe difficult situations. In "Song of the South," it was a trick Brer Fox and Brer Bear used to catch the rabbit _ dressing a lump of hot tar as a person to ensnare their prey. To some, it is now a derogatory term for blacks, regardless of context.

The movie doesn't reveal whether it takes place before or after the Civil War, and never refers to blacks on the plantation as slaves. It makes clear they work for the family, living down dirt roads in wood shacks while the white characters stay in a mansion. Remus and other black characters' dialogue is full of "ain't nevers," "ain't nobodys," "you tells," and "dem days's."

"In today's environment, 'Song of the South' probably doesn't have a lot of meaning, especially to the younger audiences," said James Pappas, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of New York at Buffalo. "Older audiences probably would have more of a connection with the stereotypes, which were considered harmless at the time."

Pappas said it's not clear that the movie is intentionally racist, but it inappropriately projects Remus as a happy, laughing storyteller even though he's a plantation worker.

"Gone with the Wind," produced seven years earlier, endured the same criticism and even shares a common actress (Hattie McDaniel, who won an Oscar for "Gone" for playing the house slave "Mammy").

However, Pappas said he thinks the movie should be rereleased because of its historical significance. He said it should be prefaced, and closed, with present-day statements.

"I think it's important that these images are shown today so that especially young people can understand this historical context for some of the blatant stereotyping that's done today," Pappas said.

From a financial standpoint, Iger acknowledged last year that Disney stood to gain from rereleasing "Song." The company's movies are popular with collectors, and Disney has kept sales strong by tightly controlling when they're available.

Christian Willis, a 26-year-old IT administrator in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., started a "Song" fan site in 1999 to showcase memorabilia. He soon expanded it into a clearinghouse for information on the movie that now averages more than 800 hits a day and manages the online petition.

Willis said he doesn't think the movie is racist, just from a different time.

"Stereotypes did exist on the screen," he said. "But if you look at other films of that time period, I think 'Song of the South' was really quite tame in that regard. I think Disney did make an effort to show African Americans in a more positive light."

Though Willis is hopeful, there's still no telling when _ or if _ the movie could come out (beyond its copyright lapsing decades from now).

For this story, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Disney's distribution arm, issued a statement: "Song of the South is one of a handful of titles that has not seen a home distribution window. To this point, we have not discounted nor committed to any distribution window concerning this title."

On the Net:

"Song of the South" fan page: http://www.songofthesouth.net

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

"In today's environment, 'Song of the South' probably doesn't have a lot of meaning, especially to the younger audiences," said James Pappas, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of New York at Buffalo. "Older audiences probably would have more of a connection with the stereotypes, which were considered harmless at the time."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bobiger; brerbear; brerfox; brerrabbit; briarpatch; buenavista; censorship; civilwar; discrimination; disney; hattiemcdaniel; jamesbaskett; jimcrow; joelchandlerharris; politicallycorrect; racism; revisionisthistory; segregation; slavery; songofthesouth; sots; splashmountain; stereotypes; tarbaby; uncleremus; waltdisney; waltsrotatingcorpse; zipadeedoodah
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1 posted on 03/25/2007 7:43:19 AM PDT by Ellesu
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To: Ellesu

And as a result of this PC BS, kids don't know the story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch.


2 posted on 03/25/2007 7:49:49 AM PDT by 3AngelaD
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To: All

I bought a bootleg copy of SOTS on Ebay for $30 a few years ago. It was very entertaining.

Disney should release it with a disclaimer saying "This is a movie that was made in 1945 and according to the customs of that day".

Hopefully that will appease Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.


3 posted on 03/25/2007 7:49:55 AM PDT by ClarenceThomasfan (In 2008 Republicans will unite around Guiliani, McCain or Romney and whoop Hillary in a Landslide!!)
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To: Ellesu
Why wait for Iger and his billionaire cronies to get up the courage to defy the stalinist censors. Buy it here today.

song_of_the_south

4 posted on 03/25/2007 7:51:02 AM PDT by trek
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To: Ellesu

Please don't throw me in the briar patch! Anywhere but the briar patch!


5 posted on 03/25/2007 7:51:24 AM PDT by Roccus (Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.)
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To: Ellesu

I bet they'll release it, but it will either be (1) edited or (2) prefaced with a 5 minute speech on racism.


6 posted on 03/25/2007 7:52:51 AM PDT by July 4th (A vacant lot cancelled out my vote for Bush.)
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To: ClarenceThomasfan
"Hopefully that will appease Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton."

The only thing that would mollify brer Jesse and brer Sharpton would be cut of the profits.

7 posted on 03/25/2007 7:54:02 AM PDT by trek
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To: Ellesu
"I think it's important that these images are shown today so that especially young people can understand this historical context for some of the blatant stereotyping that's done today," Pappas said.

Oh for cryin' out loud - what a pompous buffoon.

It is a kid's movie. Let 'em watch it and just be kids without the indoctrination please.

8 posted on 03/25/2007 7:54:04 AM PDT by Condor 63
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To: Ellesu
Pappas said it's not clear that the movie is intentionally racist, but it inappropriately projects Remus as a happy, laughing storyteller even though he's a plantation worker.

Are they saying it's absolutely impossible for anyone to have been "a happy, laughing storyteller even though he's a plantation worker."?

Even in servitude, I'd guess the children still giggled and played, and adults entertained them.

9 posted on 03/25/2007 7:54:43 AM PDT by digger48
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To: Ellesu

I saw it in the theater in 1972. This was my favorite movie growing up. I remember being shocked that it was not for sale in the US when I tried to get it for my own kids.


10 posted on 03/25/2007 7:55:05 AM PDT by Pete
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To: ClarenceThomasfan
Hopefully that will appease Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Only one thing can appea$e Je$$e Jack$on.

11 posted on 03/25/2007 7:55:50 AM PDT by 6SJ7
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To: Ellesu

I saw the re-release of SOTS in 1986 as a six-year-old. There was nothing racist to me in the movie. I have a degree in history and have always had a keen interest in history, even back then. I knew there were people who were slaves but SOTS did not seem to me then to in any way trivialize their lives. They were dressed in clothes that seemed to be more dingy than the white people in the movie. I thought more about how funny the child looked in frills than the glamorization of slavery. People need to see this movie via a child's eyes and realize that if they are properly raised without a lot of racist BS, than the story carries the message Walt Disney intended, that of fables.


12 posted on 03/25/2007 7:56:10 AM PDT by Historix
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To: ClarenceThomasfan

And bring back fond memories for Sen. Byrd.


13 posted on 03/25/2007 7:56:19 AM PDT by Nasty McPhilthy (Those who beat their swords into plow shears will plow for those who don't.)
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To: Ellesu
Reissiuing Gone With the Wind with and epilogue?

Tell Dr. Pappas he can kiss my ass.

14 posted on 03/25/2007 7:57:00 AM PDT by catfish1957 (Pelosi, Kennedy, Reid, Remember those names as you firmly hold on to your pocketbook and rights.)
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To: Ellesu

I saw the re-release of SOTS in 1986 as a six-year-old. There was nothing racist to me in the movie. I have a degree in history and have always had a keen interest in history, even back then. I knew there were people who were slaves but SOTS did not seem to me then to in any way trivialize their lives. They were dressed in clothes that seemed to be more dingy than the white people in the movie. I thought more about how funny the child looked in frills than the glamorization of slavery. People need to see this movie via a child's eyes and realize that if they are properly raised without a lot of racist BS, than the story carries the message Walt Disney intended, that of fables.


15 posted on 03/25/2007 7:58:02 AM PDT by Historix
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To: Ellesu

I saw the re-release of SOTS in 1986 as a six-year-old. There was nothing racist to me in the movie. I have a degree in history and have always had a keen interest in history, even back then. I knew there were people who were slaves but SOTS did not seem to me then to in any way trivialize their lives. They were dressed in clothes that seemed to be more dingy than the white people in the movie. I thought more about how funny the child looked in frills than the glamorization of slavery. People need to see this movie via a child's eyes and realize that if they are properly raised without a lot of racist BS, than the story carries the message Walt Disney intended, that of fables.


16 posted on 03/25/2007 7:58:13 AM PDT by Historix
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To: Ellesu

whoops, sorry folks, my browser sent postdatas, please don't throw me into the briar patch!


17 posted on 03/25/2007 7:59:56 AM PDT by Historix
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To: Ellesu
Remus and other black characters' dialogue is full of "ain't nevers," "ain't nobodys," "you tells," and "dem days's."

So they speak better English than today's typical rapper, you mean? ;)

18 posted on 03/25/2007 8:00:08 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("Wise men don't need to debate; men who need to debate are not wise." -- Tao Te Ching)
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To: Ellesu

One of the "Saturday Morning Funhouse" cartoons Robert
Smigel did for Saturday Night Live was called "Inside
the Disney Vault" in which two kids meet up with Mickey
and see forbidden footage, like the "original uncut version of
Song of the South" which alleged that Disney was racist
(not sure if he was or not). It had Uncle Remus singing
"Zippity doo dah, zippity ay. Negroes are inferior in
every way..."

http://www.transbuddha.com/mediaHolder.php?id=1706

I thought I saw Song of the South back in the 80s at a
theatre (was re-issued)


19 posted on 03/25/2007 8:01:51 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: July 4th
I seem to recall that one of the looney tune cartoons, maybe a Bugs Bunny episode was banned. I don't remember if it was released on DVD though. BTW, these would be great books for todays youth. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
20 posted on 03/25/2007 8:02:45 AM PDT by Dacb (No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.)
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To: Ellesu

Question: If "Song Of The South" is too offensive to be released, then why are Aunt Jemima's Pancake Mix and Uncle Ben's Rice still being marketed? /grin


21 posted on 03/25/2007 8:03:07 AM PDT by tarheelswamprat (So what if I'm not rich? So what if I'm not one of the beautiful people? At least I'm not smart...)
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To: Ellesu

And today's films & TV shows don't show caricatures and stereotypes?

Unfortunately, blacks are being denied TV & movie stars of their past - it's part of their cultural history. Notice how leftist Paul Robeson isn't excluded.

Sorry, but I can't help but compare it to Mao's Cultural Revolution - they want to expunge history for blacks so they can rewrite it to their own script (i.e., victimization), so they can control their block voting.


22 posted on 03/25/2007 8:03:07 AM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: Ellesu

If the release of this movie reignites racial tension, it is exactly in line with the liberal agenda. Anything to keep blacks voting Democratic (isn't that right, George Soros?)


23 posted on 03/25/2007 8:03:31 AM PDT by reasonisfaith (A leftist will never stand up like a man and admit his true beliefs)
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To: Dacb

Yeah, there have been a number of Disney ones that have been kept in the vault. They're usually able to be found on the 'net, but the quality is pretty poor.


24 posted on 03/25/2007 8:04:03 AM PDT by July 4th (A vacant lot cancelled out my vote for Bush.)
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To: Ellesu

Thank heavens! Hollywood has eliminated the stereotype!

25 posted on 03/25/2007 8:04:24 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Ellesu
When I was in school, I was frequently blasted awake by Zippadeedooda.

My room mate Pedab had problems getting up. Although a design student, he rigged a timer to the stereo and the LP with Zippadeedooda. He felt (a design student you remember) that the song had positive vibes and would induce a positive reaction to rolling out of the rack. Waking to "Zippadee doda Zippade aaa, My oh my what a wonderful day" infused goodness and fuzz into getting up.

As a roommate I complained but the other guys in the house threatened death and it eventually came to a halt.

26 posted on 03/25/2007 8:05:05 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. Abby is my girl....)
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To: raccoonradio

>>1986.

that must have been when.

A bunch of cartoons from other studios have been shelved
for similar reasons, like Warner Bros. Merrie melodie's
"Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarves". Some Tom and Jerry
cartoons (Hanna and Barbera, when they worked for MGM)
would show a (stereotypical) black maid, etc. I've seen
some Looney Tunes where Bugs Bunny outwitted a black
character who was seen as dimwitted or addicted to
gambling. (I think one of the characters in "Coal Black"
had dice for teeth)

These days Disney Channel has at least one show focusing on black characters, The Proud Family.


27 posted on 03/25/2007 8:05:41 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: Mr. Jeeves

If you heard some of the people in my office. That speech pattern has not changed still and is not a stereotype. He be and such.


28 posted on 03/25/2007 8:05:58 AM PDT by doodad
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To: Historix

ROTFLMAO!


29 posted on 03/25/2007 8:06:02 AM PDT by rlmorel (Liberals: If the Truth would help them, they would use it.)
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To: Ellesu
Free Amos n' Andy!
30 posted on 03/25/2007 8:06:37 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: Dacb
The cartoon you're looking for is called "Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips," directed by Friz Freleng.

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mbannedbugs.html
31 posted on 03/25/2007 8:06:55 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Ellesu
Hattie McDaniel, who won an Oscar for "Gone" for playing the house slave "Mammy".

There's a black nurse at the hospital who's name is Mammy and wears her name tag proudly.

Does anyone else find it odd there's so much uproar over a cartoon but it's ok for Disney to have Gay Day?

32 posted on 03/25/2007 8:07:15 AM PDT by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: P-40

Thanks. I thought so.


33 posted on 03/25/2007 8:07:56 AM PDT by Dacb (No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.)
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To: Ellesu
Pappas said it's not clear that the movie is intentionally racist, but it inappropriately projects Remus as a happy, laughing storyteller even though he's a plantation worker.

So, plantation works have to be grim and resentful all day long? Good grief.

Uncle Remus is a wise old man, admirable in every way. These politically correct idiots can't understand it, but you can be poor and happy at the same time. A Christian can understand it, even if a Postmodernist can't.

Moreover, you can speak with a charming accent and be wise, or you can speak with an academicially correct accent and be exceedingly stupid, as the writer of this article appears to be.

Angst of the politically correct: "Am I allowed to speak the truth, or will it get me in trouble with the Language Police?"

34 posted on 03/25/2007 8:08:06 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: 3AngelaD
And as a result of this PC BS, kids don't know the story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch.

Another oddity is the ride at Disney World featuring Brer Rabbit.

35 posted on 03/25/2007 8:08:28 AM PDT by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: Ellesu
There is nothing wrong with "Song of the South". The wisest person in the movie is the black man. The white parents are cold and distant, the black man takes the children under his wing. He has nobility. At one point he has to be subservient....and it was intended....and comes across....as a cringe-worthy moment....and nobody watching the movie could possibly think that the wise man's rightful place was to be forced to be subservient to the cold parents.

There is nothing wrong with the movie.

The movie has nothing to do with making slavery seem to be good. It has to do with how you live a life, and your outlook in life, even in bad circumstances.
36 posted on 03/25/2007 8:09:08 AM PDT by Arkinsaw
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To: Pete

I remember seeing the SOTS in a drive-in, circa 1950's. It was fabulous.


37 posted on 03/25/2007 8:09:11 AM PDT by Thommas (The snout of the camel is in the tent..)
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To: Ellesu
Mark Twain, on introducing Joel Chandler Harris to a group of young White children, was greeted by a disappointed shriek of "He's White!"

I still love JCH's observation on money:

What is money? It cannot breath life into the lost dreams of youth. It cannot mend a broken heart or restore the shattered portals of a broken home. I speak, of course, of Confederate money.

38 posted on 03/25/2007 8:09:12 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (When I search out the massed wheeling circles of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth)
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To: Dacb
In the original Sambo tales, I believe he was an Indian boy (Indian as in the Asian subcontinent, not American indians). He was frequently portrayed as dark skinned...the Sambo's restaurant chain was accused of being racist because of its name but it was a tribute to their founders, whose nicknames were Sam and Bo, though some merchandising and advertising related to the chain brought up the old tale.


39 posted on 03/25/2007 8:10:02 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: Ellesu


Disney is stupid. This is a popular torrent. The reason? Not for sale.


40 posted on 03/25/2007 8:10:57 AM PDT by Malsua
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To: Dacb
Here are some more that you'll probably never see.

"Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land" (1931)
"Sunday Go to Meetin' Time" (1936)
"Clean Pastures" (1937)
"Uncle Tom's Bungalow" (1937)
"Jungle Jitters" (1938)
"The Isle Of Pingo Pongo" (1938)
"All This and Rabbit Stew" (1941)
"Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs" (1943)
"Tin Pan Alley Cats" (1943)
"Angel Puss" (1944)
"Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears" (1944)
41 posted on 03/25/2007 8:11:04 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: stainlessbanner

ping


42 posted on 03/25/2007 8:12:35 AM PDT by groanup (Limited government is the answer. What's the question?)
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To: Ellesu

I am not sure it was set in the slave era. Even as a kid my understanding is that they were sharecroppers. I can't recall why I thought that and could be wrong.


43 posted on 03/25/2007 8:14:17 AM PDT by doodad
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To: Cicero
but you can be poor and happy at the same time.

It has always stuck me as strange that so few people get that.
44 posted on 03/25/2007 8:15:07 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Arkinsaw

Well, yes. The elderly black man is the hero of the story. He is the children's advocate, comforter and wise advisor. It's a pity this can't be shown, because there are so few role models like that around any more. Which would you rather have your kid admire, Uncle Remus or Al Sharpton?


45 posted on 03/25/2007 8:15:11 AM PDT by 3AngelaD
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To: Dacb
It looks like Freddy Krueger got ahold of that cover.


46 posted on 03/25/2007 8:16:39 AM PDT by scan58
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To: scan58
Heh. Sorry. Must have been the censorship board or the PC editors.
47 posted on 03/25/2007 8:18:20 AM PDT by Dacb (No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.)
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To: P-40

Some "forbidden cartoons" have found their way to (underground) video compilations or maybe YouTube has some
(but they soon get ripped down). In addition to the ones I've mentioned I've seen Disney's Der Fuehrer's Face which has some German and Japanese stereotypes (Donald Duck appreciates
America more after a nightmare about living in Nazi Germany)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Fuehrer's_Face

Though oops, the article says DFF was indeed re-issued in '04
as part of a DVD set. "It won the 1943 Academy Award for Animated Short Film and was voted #22 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field in 1994."


48 posted on 03/25/2007 8:18:53 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: Ellesu

There are also a number of banned and censored cartoons that have disappeared from mainstream television, but have managed to be made available over the Internet.

Similarly, the original Animal Farm movie was supposedly altered in a later released version, as was ET.

PC has invaded the film industry, but they cannot stamp out all of the 'originals' that find their way into the Internet stream.


49 posted on 03/25/2007 8:20:05 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Dacb

Sure. Oh and btw - welcome to FreeRepublic!!


50 posted on 03/25/2007 8:20:51 AM PDT by scan58
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