Disney announced on Thursday that it will re-theme its Splash Mountain, the log flume ride based on the 1946 controversial film 'Song of the South'. The decision was taken due to the movie's stereotypical and offensive portrayal of African-Americans and the romanticization of the antebellum South, which is the pre-civil war era of the southern United States when slavery was prevalent.
The movie 'Song of the South', based on which the ride has been designed, is so controversial that Disney never released it on home video and did not release it on its streaming service Disney+.
It is a combination animated and live-action film based in the racially segregated city of Atlanta. Uncle Remus (James Baskett), a black man and the central character of the film, was a slave at the plantation, which he calls home. He befriends seven-year-old Johnny (Bobby Driscoll), a white boy who visits his grandmother's plantation, as his parents deal with problems in their marriage.
His care for Johny is opposite to his parent's neglect. Uncle Remus is known for his Br'er Rabbit tales, which are not devoid of racial overtones. The animated characters are minstrelsy, especially Br'er Fox. Mistrelsy refers to a form of entertainment in the 19th century America, which consisted of comic acts, dances and songs. They largely depicted African American characters as dim-witted, lazy, superstitious and happy go lucky.
A particularly disturbing incident is when Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear use a tar baby to trick and capture Br'er Rabbit, although this part doesn't feature in the Splash Mountain. It also showcased a wandering chorus, who sang traditional black songs.
Another instance was when Uncle Remus cherished older times, how everything was better then. Through this, the maker romanticized the pre-civil war era of the south. Although the film was a modest success, its original song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah won Oscar for the best original song.
Online Petition to Re-theme Splash Mountain
A change.org petition has been signed over 21,000 times to do away with the Splash Mountain ride, due to its theme riddled in racial stereotypes. The petition has called for diversity in the Disney parks, thus it has urged the ride to be remodeled on the theme of 'Princess and the Frog', that features Disney's first black princess.
What did Disney say?
In its statement, Disney announced that the ride will be re-themed on the 2009 animated film, 'The Princess and the Frog', CNN reported. It will pick up the story after the final kiss and will join Princess Tiana and her trumpet-playing alligator Louis on a musical adventure.
The princess is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what's really important, Disney said. The story has a strong lead character, set in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. Although it hasn't announced a date for the new Splash Mountain ride, it said that the conceptual design work is underway. Preliminary reviews will soon be conducted and a timeline will then be developed.