CNN gives racist Disney fans airtime

Originally published at: CNN gives racist Disney fans airtime | Boing Boing


We know what the bigots think, CNN. Why do we need to keep centering their “feelings” so much…

Give Me A Break Reaction GIF by reactionseditor

I’d much prefer to hear what your daughter has to say about the upcoming changes, @jlw!


Which people?

Was the kid conceived on the ride?


Why don’t those people stay home and watch Amos & Andy, or Birth of a Nation?


Because they want the entire country to cater to their bigotry. They want a white supremacist nation.


You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone younger than their mid-40s who actually saw Song of the South in its entirety because Disney hasn’t made the original film available for viewing in any form since 1986, and never made it available on home video in North America at all.

That’s because Disney realized the film was a racist embarrassment years before this ride even opened. Even in 1946 a number of people called it out as such. Granted, the snippets they borrowed for the ride itself are mostly inoffensive (if you overlook the fact that the “honey trap” was originally a “tar baby”) but even so that’s kind of like saying it’s cool to use the soundtrack from Triumph of the Will because it doesn’t include any racist lyrics.


There was a notorious website in the 1990s (which may or may not still exist) whose name was a pun of “Splash Mountain” that featured photos of people doing naughty things in front of the camera that takes the souvenir photos. (Apparently at some point an employee managed to copy a bunch of them.) That behavior used to be prevalent enough that they had to have people working the job of photo censor full-time so that kids wouldn’t see those photos displayed on the video screens at the ride exit. So, as mechaically challenging as it might be, I can definitely imagine that someone may have conceived a child on that ride.

As for bigoted people protesting against the retheming of a ride, the same thing happened when the Tower Of Terror ride at California Adventure got changed to the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. (Although I’m pretty sure these guys were a bit less sincere in their objections)


And just how do they think parents will explain that phrase to their children?


There’s a lot more to unpack about Joel Chandler Harris and the Disney movie from his stories than the CNN article could attempt in a short segment.

The collected stores are in a weird place - one of the only written contemporaneous collections of slave folk tales, but because of the stereotypical language have been painted as racist more and more over the years. I think a read of the actual stories shows them a lot more transgressive than that. The stories are told by an older black man to a young white boy who has no real relationship with his father. Harris, was an illegitimate child, who left home at 14 to work for room and board at a civil war era plantation in the newspaper printshop. He claimed to have spent lots of times with the slaves since as a red headed illegitimate teen he had little in common with others around the plantation, which seems pretty likely.

The hero of the stories, brer rabbit, is a typical folklore trickster character, like coyote in navajo stories who is smarter than brer fox who wants to eat him. Is he the clever slave teaching subtle stories to children of the importance of blending in to survive the appetites of the rapacious slaver? Seems likely. My Dad was an anthropologist raised in the deep south who studied southeastern indians - so it’s exactly how I was raised to see them as bedtime reading when I was little.

As I recall the movie itself stays pretty true to that line of thinking - but certainly most white folks in America would have been laughing at the silly, happy black people. The racist stereotypes in Star Wars or antisemitic ones in Harry Potter are likely cross generational echoes of that same casual bigotry that we can surely do without. Reading the stories as an adult, with those caveats, they’re VERY good with sly, intelligent humor like Mark Twain.

Fundamentally almost no one riding Splash Mountain has ever seen Song of the South or has any knowledge of the characters as anything but cute animatronic animals. Updating rides to more modern Disney IP is just good business. But it would be good to see more people digging into the Uncle Remus stories in an academic way - I could totally dig on a black writer reclaiming and modernizing them. Disney might nuke you from orbit for trying though.


Valid rhetorical question. Yeah I also wish they’d ask that shit on the air. But you know, “balanced” reporting.


I’d like to plug Karina Longworth’s excellent podcast “You Must Remember This”, which did an entire run of episodes about this movie. They are episodes 151-156, so if you want to spend a couples of hours hearing highly detailed exploration of this topic, this would be a great place to do that.


“I’d like you to meet my daughter, Splash Mountain Anderson.”

“So, weekend custody then?”

“How did you guess?”


I wonder how many people complaining about the redesign were there to complain about the original redesign in the planning stages, when it was changed to Song of the South themed, instead of the 1984 movie Splash.


Seconding this recommendation. Here’s a link.

It goes into the problematic aspects of Joel Chandler Harris as well as the movie, which centres around an old Black man talking about the “good old days” of his youth (when he was enslaved).

For decades now, children on the ride have had no idea who these characters are, what they’re doing in the tableaux, or what movie they’re from. The only reason that someone would want to keep the characters there is to preserve a little touch of white supremacy and Confederate revanchism on an amusement park ride.

They might as well re-name the ride too. Michael Eisner can rest assured that the marketing campaign for the completely unrelated movie Splash is long over.


Wait until they find out what Disney did with ~Tom Sawyer’s Island~ ~The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse~ ~Mission to Mars~ ~The People Mover~ ~Mr Toad~


Because CNN has decided to challenge Fox for the bigot viewership? The rightward bend of the channel is just remarkable, but I am guessing it relates to the fact that the cable news audience is trending more and more older, whiter, more right wing, while the rest of us move to other platforms.


I think it’s CNN management going in that direction, and trying to drag everyone else down to their level. Trying to be neutral to the point of making serious problems seem like NBD isn’t the kind of news I want to watch. Trying to water down what members of the GOP are doing is a real disservice to that network’s remaining viewers.


For those who did not see the film and are curious, has a few versions of it.

Still going strong at Disneyland park in Anaheim.


As is the unadulterated Tiki Room, thank goodness. But independent of park, I think people forget that it’s a big promotional opportunity for intellectual properties.

The Mrs and I rode Splash Mountain on our WDW honeymoon, many moons ago. I’m sad that that’s gone, kinda? But it’s just a ride.

That said: still pretty salty that Star Warsland took over the last quiet refuge of the overtired Anaheim parent – we loved the little farm.