Monday, July 11, 2016

Use My Camera Classic: Uncle Remus and the Song of the South

**In this series of posts, I revisit interesting locations and sites that I never got around to posting about when I originally visited them.**

Eatonton, GA July 2015

One of Georgia's most famous native sons was Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus anthologies of stories featuring the character of Brer Rabbit which were incredibly popular at the turn of the 20th century. 

Harris was from Eatonton, GA which is about 50 miles south of Athens, Georgia and from driving around the small town, they clearly are proud to be the birthplace of Harris.

The collection of fables and stories attributed to Uncle Remus included philosophical stories which were a combination of original ideas by Harris and folklore and traditional stories attributed to African-American culture. His style of telling the story in Uncle Remus' voice would later be famously seen in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.

Modern criticism of Harris' work is that he took many of the stories from slaves and newly freed African-Americans without attributing the sources. Interestingly, another author born in the very same town of Eatonton is Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. It is hard to imagine two authors more different yet covering similar topics of race in the South. Walker wrote an essay on her thoughts on Chandler's work entitled "Uncle Remus, No Friend of Mine" and I think you can understand her opinion by the title alone.

Eatonton also boasts an Uncle Remus Museum a little ways from the downtown.

It features a period cabin reminiscent of something Uncle Remus would have occupied at the time of Chandler's work.

The Uncle Remus tales were brought to the silver screen in Disney's Song of the South. The film is a combination of animation and real actors interacting and it is famous for the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." Because of the subject matter, Disney has stopped releasing the film and it is not for sale currently. 

Although the movie is out of print as far as Disney is concerned, the complete film is currently up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. I'm sure it will be taken down as soon as Disney notices that it has been posted so see what all the hubbub is about while you can.  

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