Do you remember when we heard that Disney was opening up its vault and would put its entire motion picture library on its upcoming Disney+ streaming service? Yeah, about that... It turns out that there will be one notable, obvious and predictable omission from the digital home of all things Disney: the controversial film Song of the South won’t be available on Disney+.
Song of the South won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and actor James Baskett won an honorary Oscar for his portrayal of Uncle Remus. Despite that initial acclaim, Song of the South is very controversial viewed from a modern lens, in particular for its portrayal of African-Americans.
For those reasons, it has never been released on home video in the U.S.; not on DVD, not on VHS, nothing. In 2011, Bob Iger indicated that bringing the movie back wouldn’t be in the best interests of the company’s shareholders. Therefore, Song of the South not making the jump to Disney+ should come as no surprise as Disney is just carrying over its previous policy regarding the film to the company’s new platform.
So unless you want to source an old copy of the film from overseas, the closest you’ll get to seeing Song of the South anytime soon is riding Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World, which takes its inspiration from the film’s animated sequences.
Song of the South won’t be the only omission from Disney’s catalog on Disney+. The 1941 Disney film Dumbo, which recently got a live-action remake, will be on Disney+, but it will not include the controversial crow scene. The scene features a crow named Jim Crow, which is a reference to the name of the blackface character that was later appropriated as a term for laws that enforced segregation after Reconstruction. Tim Burton’s Dumbo obviously didn’t include this scene.
Even if you want to see Song of the South get some type of modern release, either on Blu-ray or be made available for streaming or digital purchase/rental, you can understand why Disney doesn’t want it on Disney+. Disney’s streaming service is being positioned as a family-friendly offering in keeping with the brand’s reputation, and having Song of the South and Dumbo’s Jim Crow scene don’t exactly comport with that.
We’ll keep you updated on all the latest Disney+ news as we approach its November 12 launch date. In the meantime, check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see everything headed to theaters this summer.