I agree with Robert on that one. It certainly is a tricky subject, and I acknowledge that even if my rants indicate otherwise.
But I just can't help but have a uneasy feeling about such things after reading something like 1984 or Animal Farm, or seeing a biographical film like Before Night Falls
. Why is America so safe from what happened to creativity in Cuba?
We have evidence that we are not, actually. We've had banned books, burned books, and edited books.
And as much as we like to seperate films from other art as mostly entertainment. I would argue that actually MOST art of any form is done to entertain and perhaps make some money. What are publishing houses all about if not making some money? What are record companies about? Paintings are sold, as are sculptures. Surely art is about transferring thoughts and emotions from one person to another, and the people who engage in this process find such a transfer ENTERTAINING, enjoyable, rewarding.
I think the mistake is sometimes muddying the waters by assuming "high" art and "low" art are not both art. But Shakespeare was for the masses, meant to make some money, so does that mean that we can edit out the "Queen Mab" soliloquy when society deems it "offensive". After all, it was written to be shown to the unwashed masses and to make a buck, no different than Fantasia, so it's ok to edit it so we can make more money with the play.
I think the REAL slippery slope in such discussions is confusing cutting ANY content with cutting content you don't like. Think about this, saying "don't cut content" is an objective view, it doesn't rely on what the content is to pass that judgement.
But saying "Cut offensive material" is VERY subjective, and that subjectivity can even vary over time, so WHO MAKES THAT CALL? In fact, who PICKS the PERSON to make that call? And so on and so on. THAT'S where you hit the slippery slope, once you give your stamp of approval to cutting in general you open it up to SUBJECTIVE INTERPRETATION, and I guarantee that you won't always agree with those choices AND that those choices could be turned against you. History is full of artistic oppression that we currently find offensive but at the time was perfectly acceptable.
Finally, money. Yes, I can see the bottom line with Disney. BUT, wasn't this bottom line ALWAYS there, yet they made the film anyway. So I could argue that perhaps some of the money made with any of this offensive content (not just Fantasia) is a slap in the face to society in the first place. I would say "Hey, you didn't mind making a buck by portraying a black sterotype before, so you shouldn't mind losing that money now. You made your bed, now lie in it."
I mean, those images and characters were in those films for a reason. If it was simply creativity, then do you really want me to support the OPPRESSION of ARTISTIC efforts from the past just to make another buck now. And if they were originally included to "enhance" the film's entertainment/money-making ability by making the white people laugh, or to take some money from a cigarette company, then I am even less sympathetic now to their losses if it was released in an offensive way for money in the first place.
And since I grew up with Goofy smoking and didn't start smoking myself, why is it that kids today need to be sheltered from such images.
I saw these films as they were, and I had black childhood friends no different to me than any other friends, and I didn't smoke, and I didn't do all of the other stuff that this offensive material is supposed to support.
The ART can remain the same while society's VIEWS on the art change. What used to seem cute can now be considered offensive, but it's still part of the art and a definate connection to society's past. Art may not be a history book, but it most definately describes the social history of ideas and morals within the community that created it.
Or do we all need to sit down and watch Quills and Before Night Falls to appreciate the opportunity we have to hear all ideas, both contrary and similar to our own.
Again, I point to BoaN which can still be viewed from a knowledgable sense of understanding without content modification. And while that is adult content compared to Disney, there's no reason why a parent couldn't explain what's right and wrong about the film from a modern morals standpoint. Or do we expect the films and shows our kids watch to do ALL the teaching for us?