Scrooge of Color – 6 of 40 – book research

I’ve started listening to a podcast series examining Walt Disney’s Song of the South (You Must Remember This from fall of 2019), which presents a revisionist rosey depiction of plantation life. It has me musing about the dynamics surrounding black actors from the earliest days of film and how these relate to a black actor’s filling the role of Scrooge. When a black actor could not be seen straightforwardly as a person but as a statement, that statement would have interfered with the production. The statement might be “supporter of whites,” (Mammy in “Gone with the Wind,” Uncle Remus in “Song of the South,” eccentric goof (Mose in “The Searchers”), magical guru (“Bagger Vance”) or “resistor of rconstraints (“In the Heat of the Night”), but not just “blank slate carrying individual characteristics.” In film productions, only white actors could be “default humans” about whom you know nothing until you see how they behave. Literally, only they came without pre-judgment: prejudice.

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