To the Walt Disney Company (And Dave Bossert) Regarding Song of the South

Subject: To the Walt Disney Company (And Dave Bossert) Regarding Song of the South
From: A Disgruntled College Student in the Greater Boston Area
Date: 15 Jul 2015

Dear Mr. Bossert

As you may know, the 1946 live-action/animation hybrid Disney film Song of the South will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year.

As you may also know, the film was last released to the public in 1986 for its 40th anniversary, shortly before the Walt Disney Company virtually withdrew the film from audiences to not be seen again.

I understand why Disney and Mr. Robert Iger refuse to release the film due to a stature that the Company is known for; as the leading pioneer in family entertainment, there is a perfectly valid reason why Disney would not want audiences to see Song of the South.

But there are several problems with this policy: Disney has been accused multiple times of racism in its animated films, whether it was the crows in Dumbo, the portrayal of Native Americans or Indians in Peter Pan, the portrayal of bad Arabs as ugly and good Arabs as beautiful American teenagers in Aladdin, and several other movies including Pocahontas, The Princess and the Frog, and Mulan that I can easily make cases for. So what makes Song of the South any different?

When Warner Bros. made the decision to release all of its Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies short films in their Golden Collection, they provided a short message that stated the following:

The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudice in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.

For Disney not to do the same for Song of the South makes the company in and of itself, racist. These prejudices did exist, and for the Company to take a stance and say that they never did is the wrong stance. It is yet another example of Disney trying to guard and protect itself as best it can to be squeaky clean from these problems, when in actuality, it isn't squeaky clean.

You, Mr. Bossert, have even said yourself nearly five years ago: "I can say there's been a lot of internal discussion about Song of the South. And at some point we're going to do something about it. I don't know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it's a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way."

But keeping it locked away forever is not going to solve the problem, and that is exactly what Disney is doing: this is a form of hypocrisy, and it is shameful to see Disney doing it.

In conclusion, the right thing to do is to release Song of the South with the same message that Warner Bros. gave their cartoons (or a paraphrased version to avoid plagiarism in that sense). And what better time to do it then November 2016, when the film celebrates its 70th anniversary?

My message is the same as Spike Lee's most famous movie: Do the Right Thing.

Yours sincerely,

A Disgruntled Boston College Student