Entertainment

Why Disney’s CEO Says That Disney’s Forgotten Movie “Song of the South” Wouldn’t “Sit Right” With Disney+ Viewers

When you think of “Disney”, chances are, your mind doesn’t automatically wander to a racist movie of yore that that has been buried due to an extensive campaign of damage control. 

But believe it or not, the House of Mouse is guilty of just that. We all know by now that on November 12th, Disney launched its much-anticipated streaming service Disney+, making a library of over 7,000 television episodes and 500 films available to its subscribers. 

And while some customers were excited about re-watching old classics like “Smart House” and “The Cheetah Girls”, others were busy frantically searching the archives for a title that is old, but not forgotten: “Song of the South”. 

Released in 1946, “Song of the South” was originally green-lit with the goal of capitalizing on the popularity of post-Civil War blockbusters like 1939’s “Gone With the Wind”. 

Song of the South is possibly the most problematic movie Disney has ever produced.

“Song of the South” revolves around the character of Johnny, a seven-year-old boy living in the Reconstruction-era South (the 1860s and 1870s). While visiting his grandmother’s plantation during a moment of familial strife, Johnny befriends a former slave named Uncle Remus who now works on the plantation. 

Seeing Johnny’s obvious unhappiness, Uncle Remus tries to cheer Johnny up by recounting fables starring Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear–anthropomorphic animals that learn the lessons of life the hard way. Through Uncle Remus, Johnny learns how to deal with the difficulties of life from a more mature perspective. 

And while on its surface, the movie seems to be a straight-forward coming-of-age story combined with subtle messages of racial harmony, the thrust of the film is much more insidious than that.

The relationship between Uncle Remus and his white employers is a problematic picture of a subservient, docile old black man who is happy to live and work on the plantation in which he was formerly enslaved. 

Before singing the legendary ear-worm “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, Remus waxes nostalgic about the unnamed good ol’ days when “every day was mighty satisfactual”. He then adds: “If you’ll excuse me for saying so, ’twas better all around”. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that the moment in history Uncle Remus is referring to is when slavery was still a part of the American way of life.

Uncle Remus’s short soliloquy before the movie’s big number acts as sort of a thesis statement for the movie. As Scott Tobias from The Guardian astutely observed, the film suggest that “things are better for everyone” when black people “accept their subservience and benefit from the largesse of white plantation owners, even when they’re ostensibly free to leave at any time.” 

Or, in other words, according to Tobias: “The rotten heart of Song of the South is the implication that such carefree days were easier to come by in the idealized world of the pre-civil war south”.

Disney Studios, aware of how controversial the film is, has made it publicly known that they do not plan on making “Song of the South” available for streaming on Disney+ now, or ever.

Back in 2011, when faced with the question of whether Disney would consider re-releasing “Song of the South”, Disney CEO Bob Iger made his position very clear, saying that the movie “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today”. 

“Even though we’ve considered from time to time bringing [Song of the South] back, I didn’t think it was the right thing for the company to do,” he said. “[We] just felt that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain. Sometimes you make sacrifices on the financial side to do what you believe is right and that’s an example of that”.

But some people are wondering if Song of the South’s omission on the streaming platform is just a way for the media conglomerate to avoid taking responsibility for its past sins. 

Obviously, Twitter users have pretty strong opinions about Disney’s handling of the “Song of the South” controversy.

It’s surprising how starkly opinions differ on whether “Song of the South” should be available to the public.

Some people were happy that Disney decided to omit the title from their library:

Some people believe that the release of the movie would do more harm than good.

Others believe that Disney is shirking responsibility for leaving the movie off of Disney+.

 There is the argument that Disney is trying to re-write their past by hiding the movie.

Of course, others can’t help but make jokes about the entire debacle:

At this point, we wouldn’t put it past Disney to do just this in order to make an extra buck.

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

Entertainment

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

ciararenee8 / Instagram

What do Idina Menzel, Caissie Levy, and Caroline Bowman have in common? They’re all Broadway actresses that have portrayed Elsa from “Frozen.” They also happen to be all white. Well, that’s all about to change!

Afro-Latina actress Ciara Renée will be playing the role of Elsa in “Frozen” on Broadway.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Frozen made its Broadway debut in 2018 and was played by Caissie Levy. Idina Menzel was the voice of Elsa in the animated film. Now, an Afro-Latina has scored the coveted role. 

Renée will be playing Elsa, and McKenzie Kurtz will be making her Broadway debut as Anna. Renée and McKenzie will take over the roles. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin end their run as Elsa and Anna respectively on Feb. 16. Renée was previously in the Broadway show “Big Fish” as the Witch as well as “Pippin.”

“Here it is! It’s official! I’m joining the cast of @frozenbroadway as Elsa alongside this bright new star, @mckenziekurtz! And I am incredibly grateful! This is an opportunity to expand minds, open hearts, and empower folks with the power of LOVE! I can’t wait to get started!”

While we’re still getting to know the 29-year-old, we are learning so much about this extraordinary actress who is pretty amazing at showing her biggest supporters lots of love in return.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Renée, who is half Black and half Puerto Rican, thanked her friends, family, and supporters by giving them exact instructions on what to do when they come to see her show on Broadway. 

“I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all the support and love I received yesterday. It was honestly overwhelming. Thank you, thank you,” Renée said in a video on her Insta-story. “I am so thrilled to be playing Elsa.” 

“But I wanted to set down some ground rules about people coming to see the show,” she said. “I am always so grateful when people come to see the show, people I know, people I don’t. But it isn’t my favorite thing to know when you’re coming. So, if you’re someone I know well, and we have each other’s phone number and you live in New York City, please do not tell me when you’re coming. Please come and text me at intermission or at the end of the show, which is preferred, and I will make sure to put your name on the list. I will check it right after the show.”

She also gave instructions to those she doesn’t know all that well. “If we don’t know each other well or talk super often or you’re from out of town, please do let me know when you’re coming because I want to make sure that I get to see you. For everybody else, I will 100 percent do my very best to Stage Door [where actors meet fans after the show as they exit the theater] as much as humanly possible. I know people come from all over the world to see Broadway and I want to be there as much as I can. If I am not there, please know it’s for a reason. I may not be feeling well, or something is pulling me away, I don’t know what it is, but I will always do my best to Stage Door because I love meeting you all and I am so honored that you would come to see our shows.”

We just love how precise and in control she is about meeting friends and fans. That kind of gratitude will definitely take her far in Broadway and Hollywood. 

Aside from her work on the stage, Renée has also appeared in several television shows.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native and 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University has appeared in Facebook Watch’s series “Strangers,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” CBS’s “Big Bang Theory,” and on the CW’s superhero series “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Arrow,” and “Flash.”

If you haven’t heard Renée’s stellar voice, here’s a clip of the actress singing Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold.”

Congrats on this new role, Ciara! We can’t wait to see her show on Broadway! Will you be going?

READ: The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

The Best And Worst National Anthem Performances Of All Time

Entertainment

The Best And Worst National Anthem Performances Of All Time

CavBuffaloSoldier /Youtube

Belting out any song in your best voice can be tough stuffings. But when it comes to performing the “Star-Spangled Banner” only singers in a completely different league of their own can actually do the national anthem justice. The songs poetic lyrics are notoriously difficult because of its wide range. So of course, naturally, in the decades of performances in which “Star-Spangled Banner” has been song at sporting events and the like, there have been some mishaps. 

This year, both Shakira and J.Lo are set to perform at the Super Bowl’s halftime show while Demi Lovato will make a career come back by singing the national anthem for millions of viewers. Here’s a look at all of the times singers have rocked and flubbed the national anthem.

That time the Dixie Chicks did a beautiful country rendition of the song.

Fans of the Dixie Chicks fell further in love with the country music stars when they stuck to the original lyrics and sentiment of the song when they performed at Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. 

When Whitney Houston gave a GOAT performance back in the 90s.

The queen of pop reigned supreme back in the 90s and thanks to her outstanding vocal range she had the full anthem in the bag. During the 1991 Super Bowl XXV,  Houston sang and hit each and every note. Not only that, she recorded the song and released it as a single and when 9/11 happened she re-released the single and gave all of her earnings to charity. 

In 1983, when Marvin Gaye gave the national anthem a whirl and blew our minds.

Twenty years ago, the beloved “Aint No Mountain High Enough” singer took the anthem to the next level. The singer’s  1983 NBA All-Star performance had a traditional MoTown feel and to this day is celebrated. In fact, his rendition was used in a 2008 Nike commercial featuring the 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball team.

When Chloe and Halle gave the classic ballad a twist of their own.

Back in 2017, the sister duo stole breaths at the NFL Draft Kick Off when the two sang “America the Beautiful”.  Beyonce did us a solid by discovering them.

That time Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem in a fire pantsuit. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU_UEVp2ynU

Lady Gaga rocked Stadiums at the 2016 Super Bowl. During her performance, the Lady of ladies hit all of her notes and reinvigorated both sides of the crowd. 

That time Fergie went for an eye-popping performance. 

Beloved singer Fergie did a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner’ in 2018 that was one for the books. The strange performance went haywire when the singer attempted to go for a sultry version of the national anthem that just… did not slay. During her perfroamce, camera panned to find audience members stifling giggles and soon enough an internet meme was born. Poor Fergie.

When Roseanne Barr gave us a peek into just how problematic she was.

Back in 1990, Barr made an appearance at a Padres game and sang the national anthem. (Still no word on who booked her for this.) Barr’s cringeworthy performance, which was off-key and oddly high pitched, was made worse when fans realized she was attempting to make the patriotic song into a joke. The racist comedian dared to even spit on the pitcher’s mound as she was leaving the field. Yikes. 

When Christina Aguilera forgot the lyrics.

In 2011, Aguilera came out to sing the lyrics to our countries beloved anthem and pretty much bombed. The famous singer had been celebrated for nailing the song hundreds of times. Even when she was kid. Video of the singer proves that she started out of the gate spectacularly but ultimately, things took a turn for the worse when she skipped over lyrics and even began the song again. According to an interview with Aguilera on Elleh, the singer let her get the mood get to her so bad that she forgot most of the lyrics and tried to improve.