Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Song Of The South For 2018

I've been trying to put my finger on this for a long time and I think I finally have it.

Back in the late 1940s, Disney decided to make a mixed-medium film based on the tales of Br'er Rabbit. The movie was Song of the South and it featured white children playing with a black man and a black kid. It wasn't full-on SJW, but they made an effort to show that integration was good.

The civil rights groups at the time begged Disney not to show scenes of blacks singing happily while picking cotton. They were fine with the film in general, but they felt that making the lives of Southern blacks look happy and carefree was detrimental to the cause of Civil Rights. Disney blew them off and, sure enough, the blacks are there, singing in their cabins and working in the fields. It's pretty appalling.

Song of the South failed as a movie because it lied to you. It wasn't a complete lie, but the lie about the happy lives of Southern blacks was too big to ignore. That lie made the need for the Civil Rights movement seem less urgent to the people whose only view into that world came from the arts.

All movies, TV shows, ads and plays are Song of the South these days. It's all lies and they all make it seem like there's no real need for huge cultural reforms.

That's the hit song from the movie. Here are the lyrics to the modern rap song the Philadelphia Eagles played when they took the field, Mill Meeks' Dreams and Nightmares.

Art like that is more than a beat and some rhymes. It tells you how people think, how they feel, what they value. Meeks isn't alone. Try a random sample of his peers and see what you find. If you actually listen to it, hear what they are trying to tell you, drive through the neighborhoods, look at the statistics, the cultural rot is crystal clear.

Ask yourself, is that what you see in the movies? Is that what you see in the crime shows or the melodramas like This is Us? Aren't they all Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah instead?

Popular culture is all Song of the South. It turns it's back on the pain and suffering of real people and instead uses them to sell a narrative to the rest of us, a narrative that isn't true at all. Without that truth, we'll never be motivated to change what is because we won't see it.


Timothy Eisele said...

I think it is important to remember that there is a short job description for authors, moviemakers, and other producers of entertainment:

"I tell lies for money."

K T Cat said...

Art tells you how a culture sees the world. In this case, there is the art of the elites - Hollywood and Acadmeia and then there is the art of the inner city - rap and the like. The two describe the same people, but completely differently.

The analogy I was struggling to make was the way Song of the South saw Southern blacks of the late 1940s and the way novels like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man did.