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Desc:Extra-white kid tries to explain why 'Song of the South' isn't racist, and fails epically.
Category:Classic Movies, Arts
Tags:Disney, racism, Song of the South, Splash Mountain, great kids movie
Submitted:codehappy
Date:06/16/10
Views:1617
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Comment count is 35
kingofthenothing
you guys really went out of your way to find this one.
HarrietTubmanPI
I'm going to really be shat on for saying this, but I did a bit of research into this movie (since I had seen it a long time ago but wasn't that familiar with it) and why it was controversial, etc.

It was controversial because it portrayed a slave owner as being nice and caring to the slaves.

I don't have a time machine, so I can't go back in time and survey all of the slave owners before the Civil War - and we all know there is evidence of them being punished, tortured, raped, and even murdered. So, we know that they were abused.

What we don't know is if every owner abused their slaves. Slaves were expensive, only a small people in the south could even afford them, and there very well could have been a few owners who were very nice to their 'property'. In fact, most of the south before the war was dirt poor and couldn't own a slave if they wanted to. My heritage is from the south, and we never owned slaves. My ancestors were poor farmers for at least 130 years until the 1930s. There are a lot of stereotypes about slavery and the south before the civil war - mostly made up by those who never lived in the south before the civil war.

I honestly couldn't tell you if most slave owners abused their slaves, or if only half did, or some, and I couldn't even give you a percentage. I do know that it couldn't have been all because we'd have to survey every single slave owner to know that. Was it most? Again, we don't have enough evidence to know what the percentage was.

I'm definitely not condoning the ownership of people for work, and I honestly wish slavery never happened. Nevertheless, it is a part of history and we have to take an honest look at it and not assume we know everything about what happened. That's the only way we can prevent history from repeating itself.

History is often written and re-written and then re-written again by biased people - or by the winners of a war, or even by the oppressed.

You always have to have a grain of salt when looking at Song of the South OR when reading Roots and realize that in both you're probably not getting the whole picture.

There are very few absolutes in History.
pastorofmuppets
Any lingering thought that you may have been the real Harriet Tubman has now been erased from my mind.

memedumpster
The North also had slaves, since the whole country was built on it. Keeping anyone as a slave is abuse, even if you do let them work in your house and bear your half-white children.

Bort
It's an old conservative trick to concede that slavery occurred, but it wasn't as bad as liberals make it out to be -- why, by introducing Africans to Jesus and to Western culture, we were actually doing them a favor!

There were no doubt instances of slaveowners who treated their slaves with compassion. I say it doesn't much matter, because they were still keeping other human beings as their property. Slavery is inherently abusive.

IrishWhiskey
It didn't simply depict a slaveowner as being nice to his slaves, it showed that slaves were happy to be slaves, and that this was the natural order of things there was no reason to change. This is particularly disturbing in a Disney kids movie, as the films are known for establishing views historical figures for life in the minds of children.

Also the whole "we can't ever know whether most slaves were abused" is complete bunk. If nothing else, it sounds like the creationist defense "we can't know because we weren't there". There's more than enough evidence for a reasonable determination, its only 150 years ago. Aside from the fact that slavery is inherently abuse, there's plenty of historical evidence regarding the lynchings, forced rape, and separation of children and parents that slaves suffered. There have been thousands of exhaustive studies done and if you go to an University Library, you'll find whole wings of exhaustively researched books.

Yes, "there are very few absolutes in History". But one of the few would be that slavery was enacted through the systematic forced oppression and abuse of individuals and families, and that Song of the South depicts a wildly unrealistic situation. "Roots" and "Song of the South" are not opposite yet equally valid perspectives. One is based on a true story, the other is based on an alternate universe. About a third of slaves died during or just after their transport to America. Far less than a third lived out idyllic lives without stress or labor with bluebirds on their shoulders.

IrishWhiskey
Also, I liked South of the South as a kid, and don't think its necessarily inappropriate. It's better at promoting tolerance and avoiding stereotypes than many recent Disney movies. But I literally had no idea for some time that Remus was meant to be a slave, because this is a world in which slavery is either positive or not mentioned. Its a good movie on balance, but without context will further mislead children into the systematic whitewashing of history.

HarrietTubmanPI
I'm going to need citations for your statements IrishWiskey.

As far as claiming that 'we can never know everything' is creationist bunk - that's not true. That's how science works actually. In science, nothing is 100% proven. We don't have every single fossil or record of every species that has ever lived, but Evolution best fits the current evidence.

But I kind of knew I'd be shat on for trying to show that we can't make something that was bad into the thing that was the worst thing ever because we lose track of everything that went on. When we get too emotional over history, we start making things up that aren't true.

Did I say 'Song of the South' was true? No. Did I say Roots was? No.

Did I even say that there was no abuse or bad things that happened? No.

But you can't at all say that all slaves were treated equally bad because you cannot possibly know this.

It's not a conservative trick. I'm not even conservative. It's not a trick. It's a fact of life.

I mean how dare I say that slavery wasn't 100% bad? After all, if I try to look and see if there was a positive thing about anything that is always 100% terrible I must obviously support it!

I'd also like to thank everyone for proving something else about an extreme event that everyone thinks is 100% bad - that we're all quick to jump to conclusions about it and to make absolute statements about it in spite of the fact that when we do we often don't see it for what it really was.

I'd hate to Godwin this thread - but it's kind of like the Nazis. Yes, they killed millions and they did some horrible things. But without them we wouldn't have had a lot of rocket technology for at least another 10 years, a serviceable and usable highway system, etc. Just like in WWII we can't say all Allieds were good - because we were the ones who bombed Japan. We were the ones who firebombed Dresden.

memedumpster
You're not helping your argument.

pastorofmuppets
"Did I say 'Song of the South' was true? No."
You said it wasn't offensive. Slavery is offensive, and Song of the South Disneyfies it.

How's this for Godwinning: you are at least as bad as a Holocaust denier when you imply that lynching stories were just some cruel propaganda that the North created. Here's your fucking citation:
http://tinyurl.com/7fzt3o

HarrietTubmanPI
"How's this for Godwinning: you are at least as bad as a Holocaust denier when you imply that lynching stories were just some cruel propaganda that the North created. Here's your fucking citation:"

Where the fuck did I imply this? I love how you say 'imply' but you never said I actually said it. You're probably seeing things that aren't there in what I typed.

I said abuse, rape, murder, etc. happened.

But again, thanks for proving my point. Funny how things that we broadbrush as 100% awful are easy to jump to conclusions about. It isn't and wasn't a cut and dried issue. If it was, why was it allowed in the original constitution? Why did it take a civil war to stop it?

HarrietTubmanPI
"You're not helping your argument."

Only because it's one issue we've all made up our minds about and because of it we refuse to learn anything else about it. For things that we perceive as very bad, we often do not take a fair and unbiased look at them.

This is why it's easy to jump to conclusions, easy to jump to name calling, etc. This is why when we see some particularly offensive video on Poe or Youtube that we immediately call the maker of the video x, y, or z, or come up with a snap judgement, because once an emotional response is produced, it's much more difficult to come up with an objective evaluation.

I know slavery was not good overall and like I said I wish it never happened. But it's a fact of life. We can't change history. We can't turn back the clock. We can't undo it. We have to live with it.

When we have a strong emotional response to something like this, we often do NOT see it for what it really was, but see it for something else. We add things. We introduce bias. We see things that aren't there. We make things out that weren't so. The more emotional we become about any issue, the easier it is to deceive ourselves about it.

Part of being intellectually honest is challenging yourself to find a positive and negative thing about anything.

IrishWhiskey
No one "shat" on you or called you racist. You just started from, and escalated, an extremely defensive reaction. Saying you oppose slavery was humorously unneccesary the first time, but is just getting ridiculous now.

"When we get too emotional over history, we start making things up that aren't true."

Do you see what you did there? You again denied several things you were never accused of, then accused me of two things I never said. There's an important difference between "everything" and "anything" and between "abuse was systemic" and "all slaves were treated equally bad". That, along with Godwining, means abandoning rational argument.

Defending an anachronistic work of art is a perfectly valid point of view. To put it in an anecdote, when James Baskett played Remus it was a breakthrough positive performance by an African-American in cinema, but he wasn't allowed to attend the premier because the hotel banned blacks. The NAACP both praised and criticized it. But your argument involves "we can't know how bad slavery was" and that this unbelievably unlikely scenario was at least possible, therefore the film is justified.

I'm not going to do your research for you on a topic as exhaustive as American slavery, but here's the wiki, and a good book. I sincerely hope you benefit from it.
http://miniurl.com/42591
http://miniurl.com/42590

HarrietTubmanPI
"Saying you oppose slavery was humorously unneccesary the first time, but is just getting ridiculous now."

Why is it unnecessary? Why is it ridiculous?

"Do you see what you did there? You again denied several things you were never accused of, then accused me of two things I never said. There's an important difference between "everything" and "anything" and between "abuse was systemic" and "all slaves were treated equally bad". That, along with Godwining, means abandoning rational argument."

But you made that case, not me. As for Godwining it, invoking WWII doesn't automatically invalidate the argument if the point is valid. The reason for Godwin's law is that often it is brought up for an irrational point - but in this case I feel my point is perfectly rational.

By your logic, a full documentary on WWII would be irrational because the whole thing is Godwined.

"Defending an anachronistic work of art is a perfectly valid point of view. To put it in an anecdote, when James Baskett played Remus it was a breakthrough positive performance by an African-American in cinema, but he wasn't allowed to attend the premier because the hotel banned blacks. The NAACP both praised and criticized it. But your argument involves "we can't know how bad slavery was" and that this unbelievably unlikely scenario was at least possible, therefore the film is justified."

No. I never added 'therefore the film is justified'. I also never said that we can't know how bad slavery was. I said that we can't know if 100% of all slave owners abused their slaves. You're saying things that I never said. You're making up a strawman argument.

"I'm not going to do your research for you on a topic as exhaustive as American slavery, but here's the wiki, and a good book. I sincerely hope you benefit from it."

I'm well aware of that book. It actually shows that in spite of the terrible things that slavery did, there were things that made up the fabric of history that weren't all completely bad.

History is a tapestry of both good and bad threads - you cannot simply remove all the bad ones and expect the tapestry to be intact.

I think we probably agree on more things than you'd care to admit - but again, this is a topic that evokes a lot of emotion and so it's easy for either of us to jump to conclusions or make up things either one of us may have never said.

Pacobird
Your argument is like saying we should morally re-evaluate drunk driving because people will often have a pint and then drive a half mile home an hour later without incident.

HarrietTubmanPI
"Your argument is like saying we should morally re-evaluate drunk driving because people will often have a pint and then drive a half mile home an hour later without incident."

No. It's not.

Drunk driving isn't having a pint and then driving home. It's becoming drunk, then driving home. Not everyone who drinks a pint will get drunk off of it - and not everyone immediately drives after they have a pint. Most people usually are at the bar eating dinner or listening to whatever live music is there for a while before they go home.

That's kind of why we have BAC levels that signify what is drunk and what isn't.

Drunk driving is also not an issue that was as overreaching and complex as slavery.

Protoseth
Harriet, I think the problem you're having in getting your argument across is that you don't have one; you began by saying that we have no way of knowing if all slave owners were unkind to their slaves, and then proceeded to ponce about, accusing other people of not wanting to fully explore a subject because they find it offensive, and pointing out that history is a complex tableau that we will never fully understand. Thank you, very 101.

You're arguing from a defensive standpoint now because you began by flailing about without a point to begin with. Yes, as humans we will never know all points of history, and yes, all the awful horrors of the world have probably had positive counter-points that would still do nothing to counter their awfulness.

In summation I ask, are you trying to say something, or are you still just flailing? If you have a point you feel you've yet to make, then make it, otherwise arguing any further is just digging yourself in deeper.

wtf japan
Some of my ancestors owned slaves. Either they treated them relatively well, or they were so good at psychological oppression that the black family apparently chose to stay on their property and work for or alongside them (they weren't sharecroppers) for generations after the abolishment of slavery.

None of that matters. The institution of slavery is and was 100% evil, no matter what the material conditions actually were. Song of the South is a delightful movie in itself, but it is also incredibly irresponsible in its portrayal of history. It deserves every bit of the criticism it receives. Impressionable/uneducated people (e.g., children) could watch this film and come away thinking slavery was not only a walk in the park, but also some sort of idyllic paradise for both blacks and whites alike. In the best of cases, it was far, far from that.

The fact that presumably well-meaning people still feel the need to try and deny or soften a completely appropriate collective feeling of resentment about this part of American history seems to indicate that we are not, as a society, ready for a re-release of this film.

cognitivedissonance
They at least were nice enough to call my ancestors "indentured servants", although the reality was identical.

And before that, they just called us "Irish do-nothings".

Reclaiming my heritage!


Paracelsus
You know what though? I'd like the right to make up my own mind about the movie. I've never seen it, and it's hard to come by. Among the many definite evils in the world, censorship is one of the worst.

SolarTungsten
Harriet, your claims about Nazi breakthroughs are simply false. Not only did the Nazis not invent the rocket first, they weren't even the only ones to use them as a weapon in WWII.

Here, read these:
http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=1002191881
http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=1002196681

God help me, I never thought that I'd be referring people to poe-news for an informed point of view, but here we are.

pastorofmuppets
Can it really be called censorship, though? I think Disney just decided it'd be bad for business.

I think people have this idea that Disney is part of our cultural heritage and as such should be protected and such. Screw that. Between monetizing cherished folk stories and having copyright extended time after time so that they could continue to monopolize the telling of those stories, they've probably done more to destroy our cultural heritage, (past, present, and future) than any sort of censorship could claim.

I think their next project should be a movie about Native Americans, called "Trail of Cheers." Then we can get on poetv and argue about how many smallpox blankets a casino counts for.

Keefu
HarrietTubmanPI is probably the dumbest person on poetv

HarrietTubmanPI
Honestly I don't care about those who call me stupid without backing up why they called me that.

But to address the two people who I want to quickly address:

"None of that matters. The institution of slavery is and was 100% evil, no matter what the material conditions actually were."

That's a very dangerous statement. Why is something 100% evil? When you label anything 100% evil, you better have a damned good reason, and it better be that there are no good things about it. If you can find anything positive, then it's not 100% evil, is it?

That's the point I have (and yes ignoring my point doesn't mean I do not have one). When you label anything as 100% evil you brush it under the rug. You don't try to figure out why. You don't try to look at all aspects of it.

It's a way of prejudging a topic so that no matter what you find out you'll always have the same conclusion.

I also want to point out that it seems to people on Poe, that if you don't think something is 100% evil then you must obviously support it or think it's okay. I agree, it's mostly evil, but honestly I do not consider anything to be 100% evil. There are some things close to if not at 99% for me if I could have an objective way of putting it, but again, nothing in my opinion could exist as 100% evil - no matter the event, the deed, or person.

Evil is a relative definition to start with - and whether you like it or not what is evil to you may not be evil to someone else. There is no real objective definition for evil, just as there is none for good.

Why do I want to bring this up (in spite of people not understanding it or people not grasping this concept)? I knew the reaction I'd get the very minute I posted it, but I posted it anyway.

I brought it up because I wanted to question our labeling of something as evil. What is our bearing? What is our basis? Is it objective or emotional? Finally, can we label something as "100% Evil" with sound reason and evidential support?

Human history is a litany of good things that happened from very bad things and vice versa. You can't simply wish away or ignore something you think is very bad and pretend it never happened or that nothing good ever came from it. Dig deep enough in the good and you will find bad. Dig deep enough in the bad, and you will find good.

Paracelsus
Excellent point, pastor, worthy of repetition. This is censorship, but it's economic: Disney making the decision based on dollars, not on cultural sensitivity. This debate should be looked at with that irony as its frame. Defend it or decry it, it's irrelevant to the Mouse, which is a giant amoral machine for making money.

My point is that the idea that we're protecting 'ignorant and uneducated people' by being in favor of the movie's suppression on the grounds of cultural sensitivity should be recognizable for what it is--patronizing nonsense. You don't blinker people, even if you think the ideas are stupid or dangerous--you let them make up their own minds. Anything else is a bit Stalinist.

(point taken as well that Disney would melt down and recast anything to make a buck)

memedumpster
A fair and unbiased look at owning human beings as property and controlling one hundred percent of their lives for the sole purpose of benefiting the owner over the property would show that it wasn't all bad?

*facepalm*

pastorofmuppets
HTPI: your original point was that "Song of the South" and "Roots" both need to be taken with a grain of salt, which is one hell of a false equivalence. You also implied that there is some sort of anti-slavery (or anti-Southern) bias that got put into the history books, perhaps by the "oppressed." Of course, you only *imply* these crazy things, which allows you to accuse others of putting words in your mouth. "Hey! All I was saying is that things that aren't categorically true, aren't categorically true! And who could disagree with that?"

I was wrong about what you were asking for a citation on. My current guess is that it was IW's comment about how many died in the Middle Passage. WP says 15%. I guess you're right, only half of the full third died before they started their life of forced labor. I guess we're all just unfairly biased against human slavery.

Paracelsus: reading back, I went on a small tear about Disney and it wasn't really directed at you in particular. I knew what you mean by censorship.

Rape Van Winkle
I came to POETV today to have a serious discussion. Allow me to type paragraphs in the reply field. We'll settle this once and for all.

Bort
"But I literally had no idea for some time that Remus was meant to be a slave"

SotS is post Civil War, so by this point in Remus's life he's a free man. He almost certainly lived most of his life as a slave, though. It's a good thing there are no hard feelings, and anyone who says there SHOULD be hard feelings is just a troublemaker and also probably an intellectual and a Jew.

K. Brass
This video submission is the briar patch for poetv trolls.
pastorofmuppets
For the sake of humanity, I hope that you are right.

Rape Van Winkle
I love dis video submission! Dis video submisson id da place wheh I was bohn!

Lauritz Melchior
Way back in the time of slavery - the Jim Crow period!
Old_Zircon
Wait, am I on poe-news by accident?
memedumpster
Yes, yes you are! Anyone reading this off Google, we are www.poe-news.com, visit us today!

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