After reports earlier in the year that Disney would edit the Jim Crow scene out of ‘Dumbo’, the film has been released in its entirety on the Disney+ platform.
The scene, which was left out of Tim Burton’s live action adaptation of the film, released earlier this year, contains a scene with a crow named Jim Crow. This is a direct reference to a blackface character from the 19th century, and was also the name of the white supremacist segregation laws following the American Civil War.
Instead, the original 1941 version of Dumbo has been released in full, but with a disclaimer at the beginning of the title that says: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions”.
The disclaimer is also on other Disney titles such as Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats and Peter Pan.
The crows remain in Dumbo! I like that Disney does address the racial stereotypes in the description for the films that do contain them. They could had present it a bit better, but it's certainly better than them ignoring the issue completely. pic.twitter.com/OWZTtSqUvP
— Logan Miller (@ToucanLDM) November 12, 2019
Noticeably absent from the platform is the controversial 1946 film Song of the South, which Disney would honestly love if everyone could just forget was ever released, since it’s regarded as “one of Hollywood’s most resiliently offensive racist texts”, according to cultural historian Jason Sperb.
Set on a plantation, Song of the South intentionally doesn’t mention what time it’s set in, but features black workers being entirely subservient to the white plantation owners, and being thrilled to do so.
In 2011, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that after he re watched the film, he decided to keep it locked in the vault, because despite winning a best original song Oscar for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, it “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today”, and wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain.”
James Baskett, who sang “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” in the film, was the first African-American man to win any kind of Oscar when he was awarded an Academy Honorary Award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus.
Disney+ will launch in Australia on November 19.