Every month, Disneyland stuffs the Orange County Register with a “Resort Reporter” insert. The sponsored content focuses on what the daily newspaper’s otherwise-copious coverage of the theme park doesn’t: promoting the ideal of cast-member harmony. That spirit marked the front page of last month’s edition, with workers smiling during a weeklong cast celebration also marking the July anniversaries of Disneyland and Splash Mountain; the only black worker pictured held up a “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” sign for the log ride’s 30th birthday.
The Song of the South rose again.
That Splash Mountain keeps the legacy of one of Disney’s most controversial films alive is a tale well-told, even if Disney locked the Song of the South soundly away after decades of controversy. Of course it’s online, if folks know where to look. It’ll take a similar effort to understand what’s so offensive. In short: Song of the South is set in an idyllic past where blacks are happy-go-lucky sharecroppers on a white-owned Southern plantation.
After his tales of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear get him in some trouble, Uncle Remus, the film’s main protagonist, wonders aloud, “If they don’t do no good, how come they last so long?”
Splash Mountain ditched the film’s depiction of Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit’s tar baby trap but kept the catchy “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” ditty, whose chorus is derived from the original “Zip Coon” tune that gave rise to the blackface minstrel-show character of the same name.
In a bit of irony, Disney tried to convince readers that working at the resort is blissful despite last year’s news reports on low wages or Abigail Disney’s more recent tirades.
The sponsored story mentions how a van delivered for workers such prizes as coffee mugs during cast celebration week. They also enjoyed free meals and exclusive access to attractions such as Splash Mountain. Workers even got to tour 21 Royal, a private dining room for the rich in New Orleans Square. And, of course, the company offered photo opportunities to show “how great it is to work at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’”
But is everything really so “satisfactch’ll?”
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!