- On Thursday, Disney Parks announced it would be re-theming its Splash Mountain rides at Disneyland and Disney World to center around the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog.”
- The ride is currently based upon the 1946 film “Song of the South,” which has been criticized for its oversimplified and idyllic depiction of the Antebellum South, as well as for its racial stereotypes of Black people.
- Disney Parks did not directly reference Splash Mountain’s ties to “Song of the South” in its announcement but did call the plan to refocus on “Princess and the Frog” a concept rooted in inclusivity.
- Disney Imagineer President Bob Weis said the concept to retrofit the ride has been in the works for more than a year.
Disney To Re-invent Splash Mountain
After years of complaints to scrap racist connections to a long condemned movie, Disneyland and Disney World have finally announced that they will re-theme Splash Mountain.
In a statement on Thursday, Disney Parks said the longstanding ride will “soon” be retrofitted into a ride based on “The Princess and the Frog.” That film, released in 2009, tells the story of Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana.
“Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important,” Disney Parks said on its official blog. “It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.
“In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks.”
Disney stopped short of directly referencing Splash Mountain’s current inspiration—“Song of the South.” Despite that, Disney Parks did vaguely allude to the ongoing and increased calls for racial justice that have rocked the country since the death of George Floyd in late May.
“With this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” Disney Parks said. “The new concept is inclusive—one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
In recent weeks, many have made calls for the removal of objects and forms of entertainment that have—up to this point in history—evaded widespread condemnation.
Now, Confederate statues are being removed and in some cases, toppled. Streaming services have removed full episodes and even some whole TV shows for depictions of blackface. Even Rhode Island is moving forward to change its official (if surprising) name of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
Splash Mountain will remain a log flume ride, though Disney did not indicate how long it would take to implement the change. Disney has also not announced any plans to re-imagine a third version of the ride at Disneyland Japan.
Disney’s Controversial History with “Song of the South”
If “Song of the South’s” intention when it was released in 1946 was to capture the “song” of the Antebellum South immediately following the Civil War, it was pretty tone-deaf in its delivery.
Set on a plantation home in Georgia, the film follows a young white boy who befriends a Black plantation worker, Uncle Remus. The film makes no mention of slavery, and within the context of the film, it’s unclear in what time period the events are taking place. It was only after the film’s release that Disney revealed the story takes place after the Civil War.
Throughout the film, Uncle Remus tells the boy a number of stories that are depicted in animated format—including one story featuring the infamous character Tar Baby. While in the movie, Tar Baby is nothing more than a doll literally constructed from a lump of tar, its imagery evokes stereotypical depictions of Black people. The phrase “tar baby” has also been considered a slur for African Americans.
Upon the film’s release, the NAACP strongly denounced the film, saying that “in an effort neither to offend audiences in the North or South, the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery….[the film] unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.”
Disney’s approach has proven to be the catalyst for intense criticism that has persisted for nearly 70 years, with many saying the film overly simplifies struggles Black people faced in the Reconstruction Era. In addition to that, many have condemned the depiction of the film’s Black characters as stereotypical and racist.
Because of that controversy, Disney has never fully released “Song of the South” to home video in the United States; however, it has been released in European and Asian countries, and some clips from animated portions of the film have found themselves released as part of the Disney Sing-Along Series.
In March, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that the film would not appear within the Disney+ catalog, saying that such a film “is not appropriate in today’s world.” Prior to that, some had wondered whether the film would make its way onto Disney+ and if the streaming platform would include an “outdated cultural warning” before the film.
Still, in 1989, Splash Mountain was first opened to the public at Disneyland. Three years later, another version of the ride was opened at Disney World. While both rides replace Uncle Remus as the narrator, quotes from Uncle Remus are carved along the wall of the ride.
This is not the first controversy for a Disney ride. In 2017, Disney Parks removed a misogynist skit of a bridal auction from its Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Disneyland Delays Reopening
According to Disney Imagineer President Bob Weis, designers have been working on the Splash Mountain redesign for more than a year.
Weis said conceptual design work is still in progress and will be followed by preliminary reviews that will help develop a timeline for the transformation.
That process will likely be affected by the coronavirus pandemic—especially after Disneyland delayed its reopening this week. The park had been set to reopen on July 17. Notably, that date marks its 65th anniversary.
Now, the park said it will wait for state guidelines before determining a new target date to reopen. Part of the decision to extend its closure was due, in part, to California not planning to issue theme park reopening guidelines until after July 4.
The company has said that timeline would not give it enough time to bring back its crew and prepare for a mind-July reopening.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) later expressed his support for the delay.
“The governor appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties,” spokesperson Nathan Click said in a statement. “The state and our public health experts continue to be in contact with the company and their workers—as well as other theme parks in the state—as we track and combat the spread of the virus.”
See what others are saying: (LAist) (CNN) (The Los Angeles Times)
Today in Awesome: Xbox Series X November Launch, BlackPink and Selena Gomez Collaborate
From new Netflix projects to exciting music collaborations, here’s some awesome news you should know about for Thursday, August, 13.
Microsoft Announces November Launch for Xbox Series X
In gaming news, Microsoft announced this week that we’ll be getting the Xbox Series X in November of this year, but this launch will be a little different than what we’re used to. That’s because 343 Industries, the studio behind Halo Infinite, announced that the game would be delayed until 2021.
That delay came after intense criticisms of the game’s look and graphics following a demo in late July. Instead of focusing on exclusive launch titles, which are normally huge draws for new consoles, the new Xbox will be released alongside optimized versions of games currently available.
The launch plan is an expansion on Microsoft’s Smart Delivery system, which allows you to buy a game once and play it across multiple generations of the Xbox. So a lot of your favorite games will have big aesthetic updates and will be backwards compatible with the Series X.
Sarah Cooper, the TikTok Lip Syncher, Gets a Netflix Show
Comedian and TikToker Sarah Cooper has managed to turn her popularity on the platform into a Netflix show. Cooper rose to fame on the app for mocking President Donald Trump using his very own words, which she lip syncs to while making a wide rage of facial expressions.
Soon after her rise in popularity, she signed with Creative Artists of America, one of the largest talent agencies in the world and starting this fall, “Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine” will be available on Netflix.
The show will feature guests for short interviews and also sketches led by Cooper. The show is a prime example of creators spreading their content across platforms and diversifying. This is especially salient considering the news around TikTok, which has been under fire by the U.S. government.
Selena Gomez and Blackpink Collaboration
BlackPink and Selena Gomez have confirmed rumors about a song collaboration. The artists announced on Tuesday that their single will be coming out on August 28 and is part of BlackPink’s upcoming The Album.
The Album is set to release on October 2, and is the first full-length album the extremely successful girl-group has done since 2016.
The k-pop group has increasingly been reaching out to work with Western artists, including the likes of Lady Gaga on “Sour Pink,” released in May of this year.
These collaborative efforts are seen as a growing part of the hallyu trend (hallyu is a Chinese phrase meaning “Korean Wave”) and a chance for Korean artists to make their names better known across the globe, where for decades Western artists have dominated the charts.
Today in Awesome: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Possible Return and Ways to Help Students
Happy Tuesday! Here are some awesome stories that you should know about today, from potential TV show reboots to organizations doing important work for students.
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Drama Reboot
The first bit of awesome is the news around a “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
reboot. Back in March 2019, independent filmmaker Morgan Cooper released this mock-trailer for a re-imagined dramatic take on the popular TV show.
Check out the trailer for yourself because reading about it doesn’t do Cooper’s work the justice it deserves.
According to Hollywood Reporter, the video caught the attention of Will Smith, who then approached Cooper and Universal TV (they own the rights to the show) and got them on board for the drama reboot. The current working name for the project is “Bel-Air.”
The project is still in its early stages, being shopped to streaming services such as HBO and Netflix. HBO Max is where “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” currently resides, although it currently up in the air if that will make any difference in negotiations.
Currently, there is no official date for when the project is expected to officially begin.
Organizations That Fight the Digital Divide
Then let’s talk about some organizations doing good. Despite indications that students are susceptible to COVID-19, schools across the nation have plans to reopen classrooms.
Currently, 12 out of 15 of the largest school districts across the country will be doing school remotely. However, unfortunately, many students affected by the decision experience the “digital divide,” a term used to describe the vast disparity between students who have access to tech and those who don’t.
About 9 million children are expected to have difficulty completing assignments online because of bad internet, while 14% of children are thought to have no internet access at home.
But there are organizations working to combat this issue, particularly during the pandemic, where students are more likely to need at-home internet and access to devices that can be used for at-home school work.
One organization catching attention is EveryoneOn, which works to get brands to offer low-cost data and internet for those who need it, while also trying to connect low-income families with those brands.
Community vs. Covid-19 does similar work and is currently raising $20,000 to give devices to students who are in need. They also provide a way for people to set up their own campaigns to try and raise money to help their communities, many of which have raised thousands on their own.
If you have the ability to donate, check out their websites.
Conservatives Slam Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion Over “WAP” Lyrics
- Cardi B released her new song “WAP,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, which has prompted a mix of reactions online.
- Some conservatives said the song’s explicit sexual nature sets women back, encourages promiscuity, and is degrading. James P. Bradley, a Republican running for a Congressional seat in California, said it “made me want to pour holy water in my ears.”
- Fans defended the song as empowering and argued that women should not be shamed for talking about or enjoying sex, especially since men in the industry make similar music without the same level of backlash.
- Others were frustrated that Kylie Jenner was featured in the music video, which prompted over 65,000 people to sign a petition asking for her cameo to be removed.
Rapper Cardi B released a new song and music video with Megan Thee Stallion on Friday that took the internet by storm.
The song is called “WAP,” which stands for – well, if you know you know– and it’s already amassed over 59 million views on YouTube as of Monday morning. It’s no secret that the song is explicit and if you’ve spent any time on the internet this weekend, you’ve probably seen a huge range of reactions to it.
Criticism Over Explicit Lyrics
Some were quick to slam the song for its sexual nature. For instance, James P. Bradley, a Republican running for a Congressional seat in California, tweeted: “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure. Their new “song” The #WAP (which i heard accidentally) made me want to pour holy water in my ears and I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!.”
DeAnna Lorraine, another Republican and former congressional candidate from California made similar remarks, tweeting: “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile “WAP” song.”
She even pointed to specific lyrics she took issue with and claimed the song should be banned.
Still, Bradley and Lorraine weren’t alone. Other politicians made similar remarks about the song being degrading and encouraging promiscuity.
All the comments were met with backlash for several reasons, but in general, many pointed to double standards in the music industry since men often sexualize women without the same level of criticism. Others said the song is empowering and that women shouldn’t be shamed for talking about or enjoying sex.
Cardi B, for her part, seems to be enjoying the outrage. She responded to news of conservatives wanting her song banned by saying, “THIS IS KINDA ICONIC AND IM LIVING FOR IT.”
In fact, Cardi and others have even been making jokes about the explicit nature of the song. When Charlemagne tha God pretended to be offended by the lyrics, Cardi issued an “apology” to “all ass eaters.”
“We didn’t want to offend any ass eaters around the world especially offending ya by calling ya a derogatory word such as ‘bottom feeder.’ This have tough us a lesson and we will never do it again,” she teased.
For the most part, however, it seems like many have been loving the song and supporting the two rappers, and all of the outrage over the lyrics has actually just inspired a slew of memes and joking responses.
For example, one user told Lorraine, “If you don’t got that gorilla grip just say dat.”
Meanwhile, music critic Anthony Fantano said, “if you hate WAP, you’re bad at f–king.”
Outrage Over Kylie Jenner
The lyrics weren’t the only reason the rappers faced backlash this weekend. Many were also frustrated by the fact that Kylie Jenner made a cameo appearance in the music video.
At one point in it, the music stops as Jenner walks down a hallway and opens a door. However, she wasn’t the only star who made an appearance. Near the end, artists like Normani, Rosalía, Mulatto, Sukihana, and Rubi Rose were featured, with Normani, in particular, having a dance number.
Still, many felt that Jenner was given too much screen time in comparison or shouldn’t have been included at all. There’s even a change.org petition to have her cameo cut from the video that has over 65,000 signatures.
One user also shared her frustrations about Jenner’s appearance online, writing, “Normani did ALL this and Kylie walked down the hall and opened a door. If that’s not a perfect visual indication of Black women having to do the most and white women do the bare minimum work to get somewhere, I don’t know what it.”
However, Cardi B responded to that post in a series of now-deleted tweets. “Normani is one of the best female artists that dances Like she dances her fuckin ass off!” Cardi wrote. “Why would she open a door? Please tell me how that would make sense? The best of the song is the beat and hook it makes you want to shake your ass.”
She also added, “Not everything is about race,” saying that there are other issues in the world that are, which she speaks on.
Finally, she added, “why did i put Kylie on my music video? She treated my sister and daughter so lovely at her kid bday party. Travis and Set are real close and Kris Jenner have giving [sic] me advice on certain things I ask for and her husband real cool with mine.”
Cardi also agreed with another person’s tweet, which said Normal danced because that is her talent, and Kylie “strutted like a model,” because that’s hers.
Still, others noted that whether you like Jenner or not, her presence got more people talking about the video, which likely brought in even more views as people became curious to see what all the outrage was about.