UnScripts:Song of the South
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Scene 1 – Exterior, day, cotton fields
UNCLE REMUS is walking home from the cotton fields. He is singing a merry song as his chains sparkle in the southern sun.
Remus: (singing) Zing-a-dee-dah-dee! Zing-a-dee-dave!
- My, oh, my I love bein' a slave,
- For I gets to pick cotton; no freedom I crave
- Zing-a-dee-dah-dee! Zing-a-dee-dave!
REMUS picks up the iron ball that he is chained to, and sings to the animated face on it.
Remus: (singing) Mister Shackles on my ankles
- It's the truth, you betcha
- I toil for the übermensche
- Zing-a-dee-dah-dee! Zing-a-dee-dave!
- Wonderful feeling, bein' a slave!
REMUS comes across JOHNNY, a white boy, who is crying by the side of the road.
Remus: Massa Johnny! What y'all cryin' for, Massa Johnny?
Johnny: Oh, Uncle Tom...
Johnny: You know I can't tell you people apart. Anyway, I'm sad because my paw's gone away, leaving my maw, my sister and me all alone.
Remus: Where has your pappy gone, chile?
Johnny: He's gone to join the Confederate Army, to keep you people in your place. But I miss him, so I'm running away.
Remus: Running away? Chile, don't you know nothin'? Freedom don't solve anything!
Johnny: While I find your familiarity grating, I am intrigued. Can you explain yourself further through a mixture of storytelling and animation?
Remus: Heh, heh, heh! Sho' 'nuff I can, Massa Johnny; sho' 'nuff I can.
Scene 2 – Animated sequence, West Africa, day
ANASI THE SPIDER, the trickster spirit of West African folklore is wandering through the countryside. He walks on his four rear legs; his other four limbs terminate in white three-fingered gloves. Two of his hands are playing an accordion; another one is using a yo-yo.
Remus: (VO) Well, chile, many ye'ahs ago, Anasi de Spider was' a walkin' roun' Africa, up to mischief as usual, heh, heh, heh.
Anasi: (singing) Oh, I am Anasi the Spider
- With many tricks and japes
- For I am – YIPES!
ANASI is jumped by several burley SLAVERS. He is tied up and dragged kicking and screaming to a slave ship. There follows a brief montage of shots of ANASI chained in the hold of the ship, weeping and rocking back and forward. Then he is in a slave market, with a PLANTATION OWNER checking his teeth.
Owner: I'll buy him. And I think I'll call him... Br'er Rabbit.
Anasi: But my name is Anasi.
Cut to ANASI chained to a flogging post, being whipped by a PLANTATION OWNER.
Owner: Your name is Br'er Rabbit!
Anasi: My name is Anasi!
Owner: Your name is Toby!
Owner: Sorry, I got confused. That was the last guy.
Cut to ANASI being cut down from post. OWNER hands him a rabbit suit.
Owner: Here. Put this on.
Scene 3 – Return to Scene 1
Back to REMUS talking to JOHNNY.
Remus: An' dat's how Br'er Rabbit became an American.
Johnny: What a great story, Uncle Ben.
Johnny: Whatever. It truly teaches me that independent thought and action are futile.
Remus: Why, I reckon y'all right at that, son.
Johnny: Don't call me your son, Sambo.
Scene 4 – Interior, kitchen, day
Johnny's MOTHER is seated at the kitchen table, doing the cooking
Mother: (to COOK) That's it. Keep stirring. Don't let it burn. (sips mint julep)
JOHNNY arrives home with a black eye.
Mother: Johnny! What happened?
Johnny: I was attacked by bullies!
MOTHER looks horrified, and reaches under the table to pull out a noose.
Johnny: No, Maw, they were white bullies.
MOTHER relaxes, puts down the noose and returns to her julep.
Mother: Oh, well don't let it bother you. It's probably character building or something.
Johnny: (to self) Fucking lush. (thinking out loud again) So who can help me? I know, Uncle Br'er, or whatever his name was!
Scene 5 – Exterior, outside the plantation house, day
The plantation master COLONEL BEAUREGARD D. PECKERWOOD is gesturing across the green fields while talking to UNCLE REMUS.
Peckerwood: And once you've picked the cotton in that field... do you hear me, Remus?
Remus: Yassah, I surely do.
Peckerwood: Once you've done that, go pick the cotton in the field next to it. Any questions?
Remus: Yassah. Now, I do hate to remind you, suh, but there was talk of you buyin' me a bag to put de cotton in once I done picked it. It surely do slow me down ta have ta shuffle back to de gin mill every time I done picked a handful.
Peckerwood: I don't know what it's like in Mumbo-Jumbo Land, Remus, but round here, bags don't grow on trees. Get back to work.
Peckerwood: Oh, and the overseer's sick today, so you'll have to whip yourself.
PECKERWOOD returns to his mansion. REMUS shuffles in the direction of the fields, when JOHNNY runs up.
Johnny: Uncle Vanya!
Johnny: Whatever. I've got some trouble with bullies, and I need for you to explain the concept of reverse psychology in as folksy a manner as possible.
Remus: Heh, heh, heh. Walk with me a spell, Johnny, and I'll tell you de story of Br'er Rabbit and the white woman.
Scene 6 – Animated sequence, exterior, forest, day
BR'ER RABBIT walking through the forest, whistling a happy tune. He comes across a WHITE WOMAN walking in the forest, and tips his hat.
Rabbit: Mornin' ma'am. Lovely day, ain't it?
BR'ER RABBIT is suddenly confronted by BR'ER KLANSMAN and BR'ER NEO-NAZI.
Klansman: Hey there, boy! What you doin'?
Rabbit: Why, I was just passin' the time, bye and bye, is all.
Neo-Nazi: Passin' time? Makin' time, if you ask me.
Klansman: Yeah, we don't like your kind talkin' ta white women, nigger.
Neo-Nazi: (whispers) You mean "talkin' ta human women, rabbit". You gotta stay true to the allegorical nature of this here fable.
Klansman: Now why you gotta say that, Jeb? You know literary criticism confuses me.
Neo-Nazi: Fine, I'll do the talkin'. Okay, Rabbit, we's gonna lynch yew, whadda ya say to that?
Remus: (VO) But dat rabbit was jus' too smart fo' Br'er Nazi.
Rabbit: Fine! I know I done wrong, so you can lynch me if ya wanna! But whatever you do, don't free my people from slavery only to make me a second class citizen, vegetating on welfare in filthy ghettos while our children engage in self destructive acts of defiance believing that they are fighting their oppressors while in fact weakening themselves and their own communities and if anyone complains they are told by those ignorant of their own good fortune that all the wrongs against their people are in the past and why don't they make something of themselves?
Klansman: I dunno, I still kind of like the lynchin' idea.
Neo-Nazi: Meh. No reason we can't do both.
They grab BR'ER RABBIT, beat him & hang him from a tree branch in slow motion while the song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holliday plays mournfully in the background.
Cut back to REMUS and JOHNNY
Remus: And dat's why you never argue with bullies, chile, 'cause a beatin's the least they got.
Johnny: Yeah, I kinda zoned out. What was that about forests?
Scene 7 – Finale
Camera pulls back on crane shot, which dissolves to helicopter shot and finally to stock footage of the Earth from space as JOHNNY and REMUS walk down the road. As the camera pulls back, we see the plantation, then the whole countryside, and then the whole world.
Remus: (VO) Heh, heh, heh. An' so l'il Johnny learned his most important lesson that day – some folks is born holdin' de whip, sho' nuff, an' de rest of us had je-e-s' better get used to it.
Johnny: (VO) You know, all this talk ain't shining my shoes, Uncle Buck.
Remus: (VO) (happily) Why I guess it ain't Massa Johnny, I surely do guess it ain't.
Roll credits over sounds of shoes being polished.