Tuesday, January 8, 2013

James Baskett

Controversy is the last thing I want on this blog, and with the mere mention of the 1946 Disney film, Song of the South, controversy is bound to turn her head. I'm willing to take that chance though, because of the wonderful performance in that film by actor, James Baskett.

The film portrays a very cheerful view of African American life right after the Civil War. And while a positive attitude is always a plus, the singing of Zip-a-dee-doo-dah will never change the fact that African Americans (free or not) experienced horrific treatment well into the Twentieth Century. And to sugar coat that time in history (even for a kids film) is a disservice to an entire race.


That being said, Uncle Remus was the signature role for James Baskett and by Disney keeping Song of the South buried in their vaults, means that his work is buried as well. Is this fair? Well, what is fair?

Was it fair that James Baskett was not allowed to attend the premiere of Song of the South in Atlanta because of segregation laws? Was it fair that he was given an honorary Oscar for his performance because in 1946 the Academy was afraid to nominate a black man in a leading role? And is it fair that an actor's best work is not available for the world to see because the movie he's in might offend people because of the racist attitudes that were perfectly normal at the time the film was made?

No answers. Just questions. And any opinion one has will bound to be disagreed upon by someone else.The only thing I know for sure is that James Baskett is Not Very Famous...but should be.

6 comments:

  1. Song of the South is one of my favorite movies of all-time. My grandmother used to read me Brare Rabbit stores and the entire film is a fairy tale adventure. To me as a child it showed different races and cultures blending into one just like the American dream. Sad political correctness has now destroyed much of our past as if we know better today about what was going on in the minds of our ancestors.

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  2. I agree with you Mike, about the short-sightedness of keeping this film (and what it tells us about the attitudes of the time) locked away in a vault. James Baskett was done/is being done a disservice.I saw this film in the theater and yet I knew (or knew later as I grew up)what was really going on in the South then. I'm with Tom, you can't change the past and hiding the artwork doesn't help anyone. I still remember Baskett's winning performance these many years later. Just a wonderful film.

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  3. Tom and Yvette - Song of the South will become public domain in 2039 and I can't imagine Disney letting it go without making a little more money off of it. So hopefully audiences will get the opportunity to see this film and James Baskett's memorable performance someday.

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  4. I bought a dvd of the movie and its great to see it again. I saw it at the theatre right after its original release. Great movie, too bad ignorant people say its racist. Everything can be racist if thats what you look for. This world has suffered alot of crimes throughout history. You don't hear much about the genocide of Native Americans in the USA, but people keep crying about slavery where ALOT of whites died to fight for their freedom. Wheres the justice in that? How come no blacks acknowledges that? Thats Racist!

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    1. cindy
      if you are white you can never imagine how every right of humanity was taken away from you. i applause all the whites that tried to help this terrible plight on this country. but what did it change? white folks could always go back to a comfortable life and lifestyle. black folks NEVER HAD ONE!!!!

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  5. I guess us Whitehall will have to listen to black rap carp and not to the great talents of the past. Bert Williams, Lena Horne, Manilla Jackson, Sister Robert Tharpe, Louis Jorden, Erskine Hawkins, Paul Roberson, James Baskett, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and the endless number of great black performers who worked under great injustice there whole careers. All the above performed for white and black GOD BLESS THEIR MEMORY. May they never be forgotten
    Little Eddie

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