Listen, I don’t want to sound authoritarian, but I hereby announce that the coming week is “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Week,” and that everyone 16 or older is required to sing its lyrics in public at least once a day. After all, the oomph of this delightful ditty has been making millions feel bubbly for decades, and now its Disney owners are banning it from their domain.
The Disney bosses featured the song in two “Magic Happens” parades a day in Disneyland until the COVID-19 virus hit hard. They are now finally restoring the parades using a Peter Pan song as a substitute. The reasoning is that the snappy, peppy “Zip” tune and lyrics were first sung in a 1946 Disney movie, “Song of the South,” which was racist.
The singer, however, was James Baskett, the first Black actor to win an Oscar. He was not racist and neither is the song, which won an Academy Award. What’s more, few likely know much if anything about the 1946 movie and wouldn’t think the song objectionable if they did. At the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln told some musicians he wanted to listen to the Confederacy-boosting song “Dixie,” one of the best tunes he had ever heard, he said. What’s next for dizzy Disney? Cutting off the ears of Mickey Mouse as a signal to never listen to the “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” merriment?
It may seem that I am making too much out of too little. I would reply that this example helps demonstrate the fallacy of woke overreach. Consider some saying that not punishing shoplifters is justice, that fewer police means less crime or that biological men identifying themselves otherwise should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. What’s really incredible is failing to see that weakness in the guarding of our southern border helps kill hundreds of migrants and tens of thousands of drug-consuming Americans.
Woke philosophy means being irrelevant to the point of absurdity on issues big and small. Its grandiose intent is to exhibit a moral sensitivity that’s insensitive while imagining wickedness that isn’t wicked and shielding the future from common sense. The agents of this silly swagger can themselves do harm by misleading others and damaging something worthy.
Concerning the issue of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” defamation, I would like to say first that Walt Disney filled the childhoods of masses of us with the triumphs of virtue seen in such lovable characters as Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio and Johnny Appleseed. “Song of the South” was upbeat in all the wrong ways, as in nostalgia for plantation life during Reconstruction. The movie combined two techniques to accomplish its entertainment purposes, animation along with excellent nonanimated performances by Black actors who themselves were disturbed by the cheerful depiction of hateful slavery.
Yes, the company has a right to suddenly prohibit this popular song in its own parades out and about and in its park where the company also redid a ride referencing the movie. That’s their business and does not mean the song will therefore wither, die and go away, never to be heard again. I do, however, think the scowling attitude could diminish its presence and that a practice such as this one encourages similar virtue pretenses that undermine the understanding of right and wrong and give malevolence more of a chance.
While I have no way to enforce my Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Week, and will personally refrain from exhibiting my crackly voice, I would suggest those who do not know the tune seek it out on the internet and listen several times. In the meanwhile, here are some lyrics:
“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay / My, oh, my, what a wonderful day / Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way / Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay! / Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder / It’s the truth, it’s ‘actch’ll’ / Everything is ‘satisfactch’ll’ / Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay / Wonderful feeling, wonderful day!”
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at [email protected] Send comments to [email protected]