99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
I saw "Song Of The South" as a first run movie as a kid and the whole country was singing "Zip-a-de-doo-dah" for months. I recently saw it again as an import DVD and my question is, where is it racist? The hero is Uncle Remus, a black ex-slave who is not treated as a slave. He is, in fact, the hero of the story. Most people object to the fact that the "slaves" are happy and singing, showing that they are not mistreated. Contrary to popular belief, the story takes place after the U.S. Civil War, during the period known as "Reconstruction" so the workers are not slaves but hired hands. The book delves into this and into many other facets of the production. I can't improve on the other reviewers reviews so all I can say is, if you are at all interested in an almost forgotten and very controversial Disney movie this is the book for you.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
Jim Korkis is one of those rare individuals in any field, the kind of expert who's a friendly, one-stop "go to" guy for anything on Disney. If he doesn't know the answer, nobody does. And if he does know, he'll let you know for free, just out of sheer love for his vocation. What more could you ask for in a historian?
His latest book, "Who's Afraid of Song of the South?" is a much-needed account of Disney's most notorious work. Though talked about endlessly, there is actually very little written about the movie based on hard facts and anecdotes from the key players. Jim rectifies this with a most excellent history of how SONG OF THE SOUTH was conceived, made, and received. If you feel that the film is a product of its time, you would be right. But did you also know that there was a general concern over perceivable racism in the film's material at the time while it was actually being made? No spoilers from me: to find out why, read the book.
If there is a flaw with this tome, it's that there isn't even more on the actual movie in it. More than half of the book is devoted to articles by Jim about the more 'verboten' side of Disney. Granted, I always like whatever Jim has to say about Disney, and the included articles are mostly excellent. But it felt like I had bought something of a misnomer, given it's a book about SONG OF THE SOUTH and not even half of it is devoted to the film. Maybe there's something to that - that the movie simply isn't good or interesting enough to warrant an entire book solely about it. I certainly don't feel slighted or have any unanswered questions after reading Jim's account, so perhaps there's really not much more to say about the film and its history. (I wonder how short all of those pretty "art" books on the Disney movies would be if you got rid of the pictures... now you know why they make 'em!)
But for $7.99, you are getting an wonderful account of the film's history, production and reception, a bargain no matter how you slice it. I highly recommend it for that alone. Think of the non-SONG OF THE SOUTH pieces as icing on the cake, and that your purchase might help Disney wake up and release the movie finally.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
I picked up this book because I found it on a website and it looked really interesting.
Pro: Jim Korkis-- one of the top Disney historians who really knows what Disney has been up to over the years. He not only talks about Song of the South, a breakthrough in animation/storytelling, but addresses the controversy around it with a historian's eye. Also, he looks at other topics that are more "salacious" in Disney history. I liked this, as it is a little controversial for your average Disney book but not The Dark Side of Disney dark. I feel that he represented many ideas that the big D may not want to address, but did it with a historian's eye.
Con: I am unsure if this book transcends beyond Disney fans--most of these books hit the more "hard core" Disney nerd then your usual "general history of Disney" type books. However, if you are not a super fan then consider getting this book because of the other themes (like racism in TV/Film history, revisionist history and how corporations deal with skeletons in their closet) that are in this book.
Get it. Fun reading, and just a pleasure.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
In the mid-nineties, I got hold of a copy of a Japanese release of Walt Disney's SONG OF THE SOUTH on VHS (with Japanese subs!). I had never seen it before and loved the animated parts very much! By that point, however, the film was locked away in Disney's vault, never to see the light of day again in the US (apparently). For the next week, I asked every black person I knew or who just happened to come in my store if they were familiar with the film and if it offended them. Honestly, most of them started singing songs from it and several insisted I had to make them copies (which I did). Not a one was offended and many were quite upset when I informed them Disney said they should be!
Now comes WHO'S AFRAID OF THE SONG OF THE SOUTH? by premier Disney historian Jim Korkis. This recent volume, one of a couple on the subject, details every aspect of the film from its original inspirations through its early protests (Which I had not been aware of previously), the exploitation of the characters in comics, several successful film re-releases and the eventual burial of the picture itself. All of this follows an enlightened and enlightening foreword by Disney's legendary first black animator, Floyd Norman.
It's a convoluted tale at best and one of the odder ones in Disney history for any number of reasons but Korkis is the one to streamline it. Arguably the best Disney historian of them all, having been so both officially and unofficially for decades now, he knows where the bodies are buried...or in this case frozen...or contrary to persistent rumor, not.
Jim categorizes all of the different aspects of SONG OF THE SOUTH into separate chapters, giving the reader easy to digest doses of how the individual aspects all fit into the larger image. The one missing puzzle piece seems consistently to be how current Disney management continues to turn a deaf ear to calls for releasing it on Blu-Ray and DVD in the US under ANY circumstances...in spite of legal releases in quite a few other countries.
If you notice the cover, though, this book has a subtitle--"...And Other Forbidden Disney Stories."
The SONG OF THE SOUTH issue fills the first half of the volume while the second half sheds bright light on another dozen or so mostly fun and fascinating Disney rumors, legends and factoids.
Among the items covered here are the story behind Wally Wood's dirty Disney poster (of which I many years ago purchased Jim's own framed black light mini-version).
You'll also find Ward Kimball's UFO's, the studio's VD and menstruation films, Ike and J. Edgar Hoover, Mickey's attempted suicide, Jessica Rabbit's naughty bits, Tim Burton, Kirt (sic) Russell and John Carter of Mars (like you never got to see him!).
All in all, if you're a Disney fan of any depth whatsoever, WHO'S AFRAID OF THE SONG OF THE SOUTH? needs to be in your library as soon as possible. Of course, that could and has been said of every other Jim Korkis book. Remember that name and buy any book he puts out that has anything to do with animation or Disney.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2013
I saw Song of the South in 1947 when I was in high school. Having studied "Uncle Remus" stories in Southern literature in school, I had no problem with the dialect. The lessons were deep and the animation delightful. There was nothing disrespectful about it and Uncle Remus was the absolute star. The music was awesome and timeless. What a loss that it is locked in a vault never to be enjoyed again. Also, the bios of the actors were very good. I never realized the breadth of Walt Disney's less advertised "public service" type films either. A must read for other Disney fans!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2014
My parents loaded us up in the car along with our friends, several that were black to take us to the movie theater to see this wonderful movie. For weeks all of us children re- in acted the movie sang the songs and played in the woods near our home. My father say a notice in the local newspaper about the movie not being shown at the theater any more because of the racism. All of the children my parents took to see the movie with us went to the theater before they stopped playing the movie and everyone of them came back confused. They couldn't understand why and enjoyable movie was being removed. They did Not find it offensive at all. as a mater of fact one of the fathers said that the movie was so far from racist it was funny. He said that it told an accurate yet cartoonish was as that all people including animals should get along. He was very upset that it was to be stopped, he shook my fathers hand and said thank you for taking all the kids to see the movie. He told my father that more people should see the movie and maybe there would be less racism in this country. I think Disney Corp the parent company of ABC should look at the garbage they produce for TV it is much worse and the values are much worse than those portrayed in the movie Song of the South! I for 1 would love to see it again along with all my black friends that are to this day my very dear friends that would like to take their children and grandchildren to see the movie, maybe it may open some eyes today that are closed very tightly about racism in this country that exists today. And I personally agree!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2014
The first half of this book is an examination of how Disney's "Song of the South" got made, and how it came to have its reputation, and to what extent that reputation is or is not deserved.
(Personally, I think it is partly - not least because Uncle Remus is a "Magic Negro" - but not wholly deserved. Among other things, this was, if I'm not mistaken, the first film from a "white" studio to feature an African-American in a starring role? But anyway:)
This part ends with a reasoned plea, though one that will almost certainly not yield results, for Disney to let "SotS" out of its cage.
The rest of the book deals with a number of myths and legends that surround Disneyana. Some of them are more "forbidden" than others, and some (such as the disappearance of Little Black Sunflower from "Fantasia") are simply trite. But a few of them - notably, for me, the stories of a young Tim Burton's time at Disney and of an early, suicidal Mickey Mouse - are quite interesting.
The real problem with this book, for me, is a rather flat tone, which seems to assume its intended audience is, well, not very bright. This spoiled the feeling of the whole for me, rather, and limits my willingness to recommend it to others. Certainly any serious Disney aficionado will want to read it, but beyond that? Not so much.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Jim Korkis worked for Disney for many years, and "Song of the South" is one of his fields of expertise. Being a one time Disney staffer, he has a different view on this controversial film than many do. All in all, he thinks it is worthy of being watched. So do I (but perhaps as one of the special Disney "Treasures" in the metal box, with a foreword about it's historical setting).
Floyd Norman, who wrote the foreword is also a black man who is a Disney legend, so he also has a different viewpoint to add, and again, he agrees that Song of the South is worth viewing.
And, just to make things clear- Song of the South was set AFTER the Civil war.
Altho the author certainly knows his stuff, he is not at his most entertaining here, and the book gets a little dry at times. Part of this is due to having to pad the book a bit.
Still, a great choice for Disney super fans or historians.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2014
I have, for a long time, wondered why Disney has not distributed "Song of the South". Now, I know. The author has done a good job of telling the story of this once popular movie. The book is an easy read, and not at all boring.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2014
You think you may know all of something, but the reality is you only know pieces. This book gives you the whole puzzle in detail. Great stories, interviews and nuggets for film and Disney fans. I have always enjoyed Song of the South and only knew the rumors of why the Disney company doesn't have a whole lot to do with it. Plus, great tales of Walt Disney, too.