As it turns out, Disney does not release their classic films and then yank them off the market to be cruel and sadistic. (Although sometimes we feel like Disney movies exist only to
). There is a reason behind the schedule, and it\’s actually kind of sweet. Robyn Miller, who previously served as Head of Product Development for Disney\’s home video division (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), the \”vault\” marketing campaign is all about younger generations, and not just as a tactic to make consumers feel like they have to buy it now before it\’s gone forever. \” The videos come out of the vault approximately every seven years so that new generations of two to seven-years-old can enjoy the films. It\’s Disney\’s way of making sure classics like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella don\’t go forgotten, because that would actually be a travesty. Imagine your child not knowing what a dinglehopper was? Or never knowing the genius behind Williams\’ Genie performance? That would be a terrible world, indeed. By R. L. Shaffer With the release of on Blu-ray, not to mention, it seemed prudent to step into the Disney Vault and suggest one cult title I\’d like to see arrive on Blu-ray. For those unaware, the Disney Vault is a mysterious place where animated titles and live-action pictures are tucked away and stored until the powers that be at Disney see fit to re-introduce them to a new generation of kiddies. \”Back in my day,\” when something was stored in the Disney Vault, it would stay there for a long time 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or more.
It was there forever. This, of course, drove up the price of the films, transforming virtually every Disney film into a bona fide collector\’s item. Today, movies are stored in the vault for maybe a few years, usually no longer than five, before they get some kind of double-dip or re-release. Typically, films from the vault even stay in stores long enough that you don\’t even realize they were in the vault in the first place. The only major title on DVD to stay in the vault long enough to become a collector\’s item was Tron, which arrived on DVD back in 2002, but went out of print shortly after. Up until the most recent DVD/BD re-release, that film sold for up to $100-200 on sites like Amazon and eBay. I parted ways with my DVD of Tron for $162, just a few days ahead of the release of Tron: Legacy in theaters. I figured it would get a Blu-ray release, and I was right. So while many films find their way to the Disney Vault, most titles get re-released at some point. except for one. If you\’re a Disney lover, you know which movie I\’m talking about. If you don\’t know, prepare for a little education. It is time to bring the 1946 live-action/animated film Song of the South to Blu-ray. Hell, it\’s time to see Song of the South on DVD. Yes, Disney\’s most controversial film has yet to receive a proper DVD, let alone a high definition release. Construed by many as racist towards African-Americans, Song of the South is Disney\’s most embarrassing picture.
But really, it\’s not any more offensive than most of their early work (including Dumbo), most of which is shaded with subtle and not-so-subtle hints of racism, an unfortunate testament of the times. Hiding Song of the South in the background and pretending it basically doesn\’t exist is no way to treat a piece of cinema, especially one with some truly memorable animated sequences (I\’ve always loved Br\’er Rabbit). Song of the South is a piece of Disney history, albeit a dark slice of their history. It does boast racist undertones, but it also harbors significant cultural importance, not to mention one of Disney\’s most memorable songs (\”Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah\”). We don\’t hide from the racist stereotypes portrayed in other \”children\’s\” entertainment. The old Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, for example, are layered with racist imagery. But that doesn\’t mean they are any less significant to history. In fact, works like Song of the South and Superman, for that matter, offer testimony to how we\’ve changed. What was once perceived as completely normal is now perceived as something racist, and that\’s a good thing. Another fine example is Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer. Both books are littered with racist characters and a profuse usage of the \”N-word. \” But that certainly doesn\’t mean we should ignore those books and tuck them away for good. Both novels have cultural and literary significance. Point being, it\’s time for Disney to take a look at Song of the South and acknowledge the film\’s shortcomings, and its strengths.
Release a fully restored, remastered DVD and Blu-ray that explores the film\’s darker aspects in a documentary. Maybe give viewers a historical commentary dissecting the racist undertones while celebrating what is genuinely great about the film. And offer an option to view the animated shorts separately from the live-action material, and note which ones are appropriate for kids. Doing so not only educates audiences about the picture, but it redeems the film to some extent. If Disney is worried about children being exposed to the film, do what Warner did with the Superman shorts simply put a warning label on the box suggesting the material is not suitable for children. Problem solved. Song of the South isn\’t some kind of pornography. It\’s just a film that was made during troubling times when racism, sexism and bigotry were commonly accepted. Ignoring the film only seems to support the notion that times have not changed when indeed they have. Because of this, Song of the South deserves to be on Blu-ray just as much as Dumbo, The Lion King or any film in the Disney vault. Feel free to hop on the forums below and weigh in on whether Song of the South should return to home video. And let us know of other titles from the Disney Vault that you\’d like to see on Blu-ray. I know I\’d like to see The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Aladdin. Got any other suggestions?