Tar Baby: An Unusable Term?

What do you think about the term ‘tar baby’? In this AP story (link defunct), two presidential hopefuls have said of a difficult–dare we say ‘sticky’–situation that it is or would be a ‘tar baby’ for those involved. Both men apologized for using the term, but I don’t get it. Are the Uncle Remus stories anathema in our sensitive age? Or is this a return of the idiocy that cried out a few years ago when a politician who labeled someone as ‘niggardly’ was rebuked for his racist remark? That’s about as smart as trying to take the ‘hell’ out of ‘hello’ by saying ‘heaveno.’

6 thoughts on “Tar Baby: An Unusable Term?”

  1. It’s a stupid, calculated and hypersensitive response to a perfectly good metaphor.

    It’s complicated by the fact that the Uncle Remus stories are indeed forbidden literature today, due to the fact that Remus is portrayed as a fairly content and well-treated slave. If you imagine a single slave who isn’t plotting to cut Ol’ Massah’s throat, you’re defending the entire institution, after all.

  2. Back in the good ol’ days, I remember the Disney movie “The Song of the South.” Anybody remember “zippidy-doo-dah, zippidy-day, my, oh, my, what a beautiful day?” Just try finding that movie today without Japanese subtitles. It has been successfully eliminated from our modern culture and therefore our memory.

    Just googled it and it seems that Disney is (almost) considering releasing it again. HURRAY! Well, we’ll see if that really happens.

    Oh, dear, I really am as cynical as Lars. 😡

  3. Seems I’ve heard of a neutered version of “The Song of the South” out there, but I won’t mention it here. I think Disney would have sufficient motivation to make it available solely on the popularity of “Zippidy-doo-dah” among jazz singers. It’s a well-known song.

  4. It’s not like Disney has entirely flushed TSOTS down the memory hole; we own a recent “Greatest Hits” Disney CD, and “Zippidy-doo-dah” is one of the songs. I wonder if the scarcity of that movie on DVD has more to do with Disney’s habit of making everything they release a “limited edition, available for a short time only.”

    Nothing wrong with the phrase “tar baby,” at any rate. It’s a perfect metaphor. “Please don’t throw me in dat dere briar patch!”

  5. 🙂 Roy, I can’t believe you said such a racist thing. I demand an apology. That’s a good thought about the limited edition DVDs. I think this movie is pretty low on the list of all their releases.

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