A humble defense of “Song of the South”

August 3, 2008

A website dedicated to the Disney movie Song of the South has just posted a defense of the movie from the widespread belief that the movie is racist. That 1946 classic film is so controversial that Disney won’t release it on DVD in the United States; it was last distributed to theaters in 1986.

Controversy over past (and present?) racism of Walt Disney and his namesake company has blown up again due to news that Disney is planning a new movie titled Princess and the Frog: An American Fairy Tale that would be set in New Orleans and feature Disney’s first African-American princess character. As news of the movie has gotten out, there have accusations that the proposed character is stereotypical in that the character can be described as being subservient.

Where do I stand, well as far as the Song of the South is concerned? Well I understand the point that the movie is a product of its time (62 years ago) and all, but I have to look at this from the position of a shareholder, since I have held shares of Disney (NYSE: DIS) on and off for a long time. If you don’t sell the movie, you piss off a few film buffs, but that’s it. In the current climate, if Disney were to release the film again there would be a lot of pissed off people, and perhaps boycotts and other measures would occur. Shareholder value simply would not be maximized by the re-releasing the film. Now does a new Disney film featuring an African-American princess maximize shareholder value? Don’t know. In light of controversies over that yet to be released movie, maybe not.

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