Should Disney parks get rid of the popular ride Splash Mountain because of the stories the ride and its characters are based on? Some say yes.
The ride was based on the controversial 1946 film “Song of the South," which in itself was based on the “Uncle Remus" tales written by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris was an associate editor of The Atlanta Constitution.
Disney officials have said the film will remain in its vaults, not to be shown on its streaming service Disney+ or released to be added to a personal film library.
“I’ve felt as long as I’ve been CEO that ‘Song of the South’ -- even with a disclaimer -- was just not appropriate in today’s world,” Bob Iger said earlier this year, according to The Washington Post. “It’s just hard, given the depictions in some of those films, to bring them out today without in some form or another offending people, so we’ve decided not to do that.”
The film is set on an antebellum plantation where presumed former slaves still work. The grandson of the owner becomes friends with the elderly Uncle Remus who shares morality tales with the child using the characters of Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox as they try to catch Br’er Rabbit, in place of people. The film, despite being set post-Civil War, still shows the relationship between the white owners and the African-American workers as that of owner and slave, according to Cinema Blend.
The film won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” and the man who portrayed Uncle Remus, James Baskett, was awarded an honorary Oscar. Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar for her role in 1939′s “Gone With the Wind" also had a small part in “Song of the South.”
In 2010, Iger called the film, which includes about 20 minutes of animation mixed in with a majority of live-action, “fairly offensive,” Cinema Blend reported.
But while many have never seen the film, as it was last released in 1986, clips of it are available on YouTube and bootleg copies of the film are able to be purchased.
Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World feature the log flume ride, compete with audio-animatronics of the animals from the Uncle Remus tales, but the Uncle Remus character is not part of the experience.
But like the film, some are saying the ride’s theming should come to an end.
There are Change.org petitions being shared that are calling for Disney to retheme the ride, changing it from “Song of the South” to “The Princess and the Frog” film.
Organizers of the petition said the change would correct two issues and “remove the offensive stereotypical theming the ride currently has and bring a much needed diversity to the parks. As well as a much bigger merchandising opportunity for Princess and the Frog.”
“The Princess and the Frog” featured Disney’s first African-American princess and was released in 2009, the “Today” show reported.
A Twitter user, who says he is a Disney employee, posted potential ideas for a way to change the ride’s theming without changing the ride’s footprint.
Princess and the Frog Splash Mountain retheme for Disneyland thread. Just put on the soundtrack and a splash ridethrough while reading this. pic.twitter.com/8z5wOalyB7— Frederick Chambers (@FreddyFromBatuu) June 9, 2020
The push to change the ride came weeks after the death of George Floyd and protests over police brutality and racism began.
HBO Max pulled the film “Gone with the Wind” for the time being and television “Cops” and “Live PD” have been canceled in response to the systemic racism in the country, “Today” reported. At the same time, monuments and statues that honor the Confederacy have been torn down by protesters or removed by local governments.
Cox Media Group