March 8, 2007
New Orleans, Louisiana
Carol Koster: "My name is Carol Koster, I'm from Mandeville, Louisiana, which is a community North over the lake, and we have 430 shares, and I am from the Disney Echo fan web site. I want to thank you all for coming to New Orleans, you are uplifting us after Katrina clearly in the presentation. And thank you very much for filming the animated movie. Please convey to Jerry Bruckheimer our thanks, too, for filming Deja Vu here after the storm; it was an act of courage to maintain that contract and come to film when the city was so devastated. So, thanks very much to him.
"My question, a comment and then a question. I want to compliment you on your courage for airing The Paths to 9/11 on ABC. I know there were a lot of politics and pressure put on you personally and ABC for not airing that; yet, you felt it was important that we get the information and the portrayal out to the public to aid in public discourse about the terrorism that is going on in the world today and how that affected the United States.
"If you had the courage to put that on the air, I believe you have the courage to bring out Song of the South on home video. [Applause] In order to further the discussion of race relations in the United States to make the Disney filmography that is available to consumers complete. I don't see anything wrong with Song of the South except that perhaps the accents that the animated characters use are a little difficult to hear. But, it's a charming film, it won OscarsHattie McDaniel is an Oscar winner for Gone With the Wind as Best Supporting Actress and in her acceptance speech of that Oscar she laid out her courage in taking that role and in winning that award on behalf of all African-American actors and actresses. I don't believe she would have taken the role in Song of the South if she felt there was something truly demeaning about it.
"We need to get the issue of race relations out in this country. We have a candidate for President right now who is African-American. And in order to deal with our past, we need to look at it honestly. That era of filmmaking and TV shows really existed. We acknowledge that it was not the best, but there is nothing in the portrayals of Song of the South that are racist. It is a lovely film, it's charming, you've made theme park attractions, Splash Mountain, based on some of its characters. It's time to deal with it. Just put it out, maybe on the Walt Disney Treasures collection, which are the tin boxed versions, and let the public come to its own decision about it. Thank you very much and thank you again for coming to New Orleans."
Disney CEO Robert Iger: "You're welcome, first of all, for your comments about us being in New Orleans. The question about Song of the South comes up periodically, in fact it was raised at last year's annual meeting which we conducted in Anaheim. And since that time, we've decided to take a look at it again because we've had numerous requests about bringing it out. Our concern was that a film that was made so many decades ago being brought out today perhaps could be either misinterpreted or that it would be somewhat challenging in terms of providing the appropriate context. Because there were depictions in that film that, viewed in today's world, might not be viewed as kindly or as politically correct as perhaps they may have been in that time. But we have decided that we would look at it again and it's being done by our studio and Dick Cook [Walt Disney Studios Chairman]."
Carol Koster: "Thank you."