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Here’s a piece of history for you - we have a racist past. Watch movies that were filmed prior to the civil rights movement and you’ll see a very different portrayal of African Americans on film. It shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, it’s history, but some studios would rather that history not be around as a grim reminder of our past. You know, because erasing history means we don’t have to acknowledge we were once ignorant, small people.
The Walt Disney Company is a particularly guilty party when it comes to this sort of revisionist thinking. That’s why one of their most beloved classics, which has its own ride at Walt Disney World, The Song of the South, still isn’t available on DVD (and may not be, since Disney chair Bob Iger flip-flops on the topic with nearly every calendar year). The movie is guilty of incredibly stereotyped portrayals of African Americans, and Iger would rather not put that back out in the world, regardless of the opportunities having that piece of film history out there would offer.
It turns out Song of the South isn’t the only part of the Disney catalog that has been withdrawn for its racist overtones. Over at the blog Sodahead, Peter Griffin is reminiscing about an element of Disney’s Fantasia that could easily exist in his memory. After all, the scene - showing a female black centaur servicing the other white centaurs - was disavowed by Disney, and suggestions that Fantasia was altered to remove the character were denied. Nevermind, the character even has a name and, after a little bit of research, this clip with the black centaur, named Sunflower, was found.
So, thanks to Sodahead, here’s a character in a Disney movie, that according to the official story never existed. Heads up Disney - film doesn’t forget. Stop denying the past, embrace and accept we were all once morons, and help bridge the way to the future by figuring out how to make those pieces of cinematic history a lesson to learn from instead of something you’d rather forget.