ZIP-A-DEE DOO-DOO: IS DISNEY FULL OF IT?
By Jim Forsyth
Walt Disney World's decision to vanquish one of their most famous rides has generated quite a splash. Some laud the corporation's move to retire Splash Mountain as "long overdue," while those opposing the purge to be an act of cultural vandalism. A basket of poison apples, or a delightful snack? Either way, Disney's leaders won't be asking your opinion.
Among the complaints lodged against the ride remain its connection to actor James Baskett's portrayal of an African American in the film Song of the South. Some suggest the film reeks of racist rancidity, though the star of the picture himself accomplished a pioneering milestone for blacks in Hollywood by winning an Academy Award. We contacted a relative of the late James Baskett to ask his thought's on the ride's removal and the scorn for the film.
Although the anonymous relative supports removing Confederate statues, his stance on Splash Mountain and Song of the South indicated a concern for seeing beyond our present understanding: "Some people were slighted for roles that they had no option to accept. If we can find some good in our history, especially with James, it would be worthwhile. Young people sometimes don't have the benefit of seeing that there are two sides to every story."
If such an innocuous ride as Splash Mountain goes the way of the dodo, why stop there? No real connections to the stereotypical portions of the film exist in the animatronic displays on the ride.
On their next fishing expedition, why not rename Snow White? Perhaps eliminating the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride altogether will be the real cure to stamp out racism. While they're at it, Disney should expunge most of the statues from the Hall of Presidents and rebrand Tom Sawyer's Island for being an outgrowth of racist literature. Or better yet, maybe the sanctimonious zealots at Disney's toxic inquisition will remove statues of Walter Elias himself. After all, his niece is on record labeling their founder as a gender bigot and racist.
At a time when large swaths of the country were segregated, Walt Disney - the right-wing Republican founder of Disneyland - never explored the concept of exclusion. In fact, his purpose for including James Baskett in the film Song of the South served as a means to give a veteran black actor his life's crowning achievement. None of the minorities working for Disney ever accused him of racism. And yet today, one of his dearest creations has fallen victim to the latest cultural witch-hunt.
With the founding of Disneyland in California, the occasion was marked with overt patriotism to honor the greatness of America, where Disney installed a plaque to commemorate the moment: “...Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America..."
Sadly, the Disney of today seems more interested in profits than people. While they're not busy price gouging, sexualizing children or backstabbing American workers, Disney seems to be preoccupied with the hobby of desecrating Walt's creative legacy. The company never ceases to enhance the size of their balance sheets at the expense of the parks' own guests. Clearly, Disney needs to reflect further on the reason why they're in business.
Yolanda Cole, Public Relations Director for Disney Vacations could not be reached for comment. More additions will be made as the story develops.
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