Controversy: Disney announces live-action Song of the South | UWInsider

Controversy: Disney announces live-action Song of the South

Song of the South: the Ride. Photo by Joe Penniston [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr.

Every other animated feature has had a live remake, so now it’s Song of the South‘s turn.

BURBANK, CA – Continuing with its latest business model of remaking beloved animated features, Disney announced that it had begun production of a live-action reboot of the 1946 classic Song of the South.

“We feel that this reboot has been necessary for decades,” said ABC Disney spokesperson Stephen White. “While the film has received a lot of flack for expressing old sentiments, we’d like to retell the story of Uncle Remus with a twenty-first-century twist.”

A different point of view

The original Song of the South is the tale of a Reconstruction-era boy, Johnny, who befriends Uncle Remus, one of the workers on his grandmother’s plantation. Uncle Remus uses music, stories, and a cast of animal characters to illustrate life lessons — lessons that are best taught using music, stories, and animal characters.

But like many recent Disney films (such as Maleficent, Frozen, and Lady Tremaine: a Love Story), the new Song of the South will retell the story from darker angles and the viewpoints of the original villains. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson as Uncle Remus, Chris Rock as Br’er Fox and Steve Harvey as Br’er Bear. Tar Baby (Christopher Walken) is expected to be passive-aggressive and Br’er Frog (James Earl Jones) will continue his fishing career, but may wind up being Br’er Rabbit’s (Chris Chapelle) father. [Ed: We have a very bad feeling about this remake.]

As this is a live-action remake of a movie that mixed live action and animation already, the characters that were previously animated will now be live action, and the originally live-action characters will now be animated.

Countering controversy

Uncle Walt’s Insider was unable to reach spokesperson Mr. White, so we caught up with Jun Disney (no relation), who had the following to say: “It’s been too long in coming. We have two parks that feature characters and imagery from the original Song of the South and we almost don’t admit that the movie even exists. Walt Disney took great pains to compile the Uncle Remus stories in a loving way. We believe that Samuel L. Jackson will continue that legacy.”

And will the complaints of subtle racism in the original lead to protests against this remake, we asked? “Well, first, those complaints are a bit overblown,” Disney (no relation) replied. “If you ever actually watched the original, it’s pretty tame. Actually, it’s kind of boring, except for the cartoon bits. For all the controversy, though, it actually portrays pretty advanced attitudes towards race relations, especially for the 1940’s.

“But most of all, we’re the Walt Disney Company. If it’ll make money, controversy or no, it gets the green light.”

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Cover photo of Song of the South: the Ride by Joe Penniston [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr.