song of the south on disney+

In case you were still wondering: No, Song of the South will never be on Disney+. When the Disney streaming service was first announced, then-CEO Bob Iger was quoted as saying that the entire Disney library would be available to stream, which lead many to wonder if that would include the controversial 1946 Disney film as well. But when Disney+ launched, the movie was nowhere to be seen. However, other potentially controversial Disney titles were available – with disclaimers. But according to Iger, even with a disclaimer, Song of the South is a no-go for Disney+.

Will we ever see Song of the South on Disney+? Nope. During a Disney shareholders event, Bob Iger was asked this very question, and responded in the negative. As Iger put it, even adding a disclaimer – which Disney+ has done for several films, including Peter Pan and The Jungle Book – wouldn’t cut it. The standard Disney+ disclaimer states that “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions,” but Iger says that there’s just no place in the modern world for Song of the South at this point.

Released in 1946, the live-action/animation hybrid is set in the South in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. The film’s depiction of of African Americans has been criticized since release for being racist. Jason Sperb wrote an entire book on the subject, titled Disney’s Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South. As the synopsis for the book states:

Using cartoon characters and live actors to retell the stories of Joel Chandler Harris, SotS portrays a kindly black Uncle Remus who tells tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and the “Tar Baby” to adoring white children. Audiences and critics alike found its depiction of African Americans condescending and outdated when the film opened in 1946, but it grew in popularity—and controversy—with subsequent releases. Although Disney has withheld the film from American audiences since the late 1980s, SotS has an enthusiastic fan following, and pieces of the film—such as the Oscar-winning “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”—remain throughout Disney’s media universe.

Song of the South has all but vanished these days, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. Iger had touched on this very topic before, back in 2011, when he said that it “wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring [Song of the South] back, even though there would be some financial gain,” and that viewers shouldn’t “expect to see it again for at least a while — if ever.” And now, it looks like the “if ever” addendum was correct.

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