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This Guy Has A Dumb Opinion About Gone With The Wind

I want to start today’s post by sending you somewhere else–to a column by Lou Lumenick of the New York Post.

Go there. Read it.

Now, let me tell you how dumb this opinion is.

Without going into a long diatribe on the Confederate flag, I’ll simply say I understand why most Americans want it removed from courthouses and state flags. It’s a symbol of racism, plain and simple.

But to somehow equate the racism represented by the Confederate flag to Gone With the Wind is, well, dumb. The fact of the matter is that when GWTW was published, racism was alive and well. Segregation was law in parts of America, mostly the south, where Margaret Mitchell’s novel takes place. The time in which GWTW takes place, the American Civil War, is an even more racially charged time.

We can’t simply erase that from our country’s history, as morally reprehensible as that time might be. It’s the same reason novels like To Kill A Mockingbird shouldn’t be censored or banned in libraries because characters use the N word.

I know it’s a shocker to people like Lou Lumenick, but human beings, through time, say really stupid stuff. They will continue saying really stupid stuff. They will also continue doing really stupid stuff. And all that stupid stuff will continue to be represented in fiction–whether it’s films or books–because created stories will always represent the human experience in some way.

Should we wipe out World War 2 literature based on Hitler’s hatred toward Jews and responsibility for the war? Should we ban novels like Lolita because the main character is a horrid pervert? Should we remove rape from novels? Should we ban Disney movies because so many of their protagonist have daddy issues–and those daddies did such mean things?

How about this: How about we make ALL literature happy, fun stories where no character ever harms or disparages another character? Should every movie be a poorly produced Christian flick, starring Kirk Cameron, with an over-the-top happy ending?

Because, in essence, that’s what this Lou Lumenick guy is saying. Yes, Gone With the Wind–both the film and the novel–have racist characters, and both stories make light of slavery in the south.

But you can’t write about a period of time in history without reflecting people’s attitudes during that period of time in history. Whether you think Gone With the Wind was a good novel, or whether you think Margaret Mitchell was a racist–that’s an entirely different issue.

But saying this novel, and film, should be removed from our culture in the same way the Confederate flag should go is just wrong. The flag is a symbol of hate. Whatever it was in the past, that’s what it has become.

Gone With the Wind is a story about flawed people with flawed perceptions of the world and each other. It’s not a symbol of hate. Let’s just leave it alone, okay?

And, once and for all, can we just stop trying to censor every form of art we disagree with?

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20 Comments Post a comment
  1. J.E. Fountain #

    Wow. How idiotic.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  2. Brandon #

    Agree with your general premise. Disagree with your view of the confederate flag. It’s overly simplistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 8, 2015
    • Yeah, I’m not getting into a confederate flag debate on this blog, but I had to mention it to set up this post. I believe it’s a symbol of racism, as do many of the hundreds of thousands of people who have used it as such.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 8, 2015
    • It may not be a symbol of racism to everyone, but it’s a symbol of racism to me – and I am sure many others.

      Like

      July 8, 2015
  3. Whilst GWTW is one of my favourite books and films, i’m fully aware of the social settings that surround the novel. The characters do not behave in way that we would now find acceptable behaviour, readers realise that this was allowed and even encouraged at the time.

    Its like Disney ban the film ‘Song of the South’ being released from the vaults and the film will never be re-released yet it displays attitudes that were common in the era it was made (the 1940s) and the era it was meant to represent. The only crime this film commits is simplifying the lives of the slaves and being a tiny bit boring.

    I don’t think the confederate flag should be removed from the states entirely but people should be educated on what the flag actually means and how that can cause distress to people. Educating people about taboo or dangerous topics is the only way to make them understand why certain things are seen in that way.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  4. What I find so interesting is the lack of recognition for great films about African-American life. Two of the best have been “The Color Purple” and “Malcolm X”. Both films are on my list of the best movies of the last fifty years. “The Color Purple” received a slew of Oscar nominations. Not one won. Only Denzel for best actor and Ruth Carter for best costume were even nominated. It is amazing the lack of recognition that the Hollywood establishment has given both African Americans and other minorities and women. If a film appeals to a waspish sense of social justice, like Gandhi or Dances With Wolves, Hollywood is all over it about the movie being the best thing since peanut butter. Unfortunately.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  5. Stephen McDaniel #

    As an interesting parallel, most European countries ban any and all symbols of Nazi Germany, not just publicly, but in many cases privately. These laws were instituted after WWII. But until the eighties, WWII was also a big blank space in many textbooks, particularly in Germany, Austria and other places where collaboration was rife. The subject was unpleasant and embarrassing, so they skipped teaching the facts of aggression and concentration camps to an entire generation. That lack of education still has an impact today. The same is true of people who think the Confederacy was about States rights or economic policies. It was about slavery, pure and simple, and the documents the States published about why they were seceding are startlingly clear. Bad shit happens and people need to understand how and why it happens.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
    • Bingo.

      Like

      July 8, 2015
    • You’re right: the states seceded to protect slavery. However, until 1 January 1863, the war was fought against secession, not slavery.

      Like

      July 9, 2015
  6. Art is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. It’s supposed to make you squirm a bit, and if it’s really good, recognize that there are darker aspects of yourself that you may not want to acknowledge are there. Using this argument, 90% of Game of Thrones episodes should be banned as well for the sheer number of rapes against women, both physically and metaphorically. Viewing GWTW as a symbol of the glorious south is one thing, recognizing it as a film is something else entirely, in my opinion. A flag, a nationalistic symbol, is different than a piece of art/literature/film.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 8, 2015
  7. Suzi Godwin #

    I interpreted this article differently. I don’t think he was calling for it to be put in the vault permanently like Song of the South. He was calling for it to be promoted less. Actually, I believe Rhett and Scarlett are fading from popular culture anyway. The movie is dated in many ways besides in its depiction of slavery, and will appeal less and less to new generations. They won’t grow up as I did seeing it as a “special event” on network TV. They will probably be even more appalled than I now am by Butterfly McQueen. I only wish the Confederate flag would fade as fast as a symbol.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  8. Reblogged this on Amanda Writes.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  9. We can’t go back in time and change history, ugly though it is at times. (Mazanar, Auschwitz, etc.) All we can do is cope with the effects and work toward making life better for those directly affected by racism or any other form of prejudice.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  10. I have lots of feelings about this.

    First of all: Confederate flag absolutely 100% should be removed from all government buildings. It’s deeply rooted in racism, specifically the KKK, which revived its use in the early 1900s. If not for the KKK, rednecks across the American south wouldn’t have anything to paint on the backs of their trucks. It’s not cultural, it’s racist. Plain and simple. (I’m not implying you disagree. You seem to agree that it should be removed and I understand you don’t want to get into a debate, so I will leave it at that. Just had to make my thoughts clear on that particular subject before moving on to the next.)

    Second of all: Gone With The Wind is a work of fiction. Like Huck Finn, “Song of the South,” and all those early Looney Toons episodes that made fun of “Japs” and “Nips,” it’s from a different time, and it’s a valuable relic of that time. Now, I’m not a huge GWTW fan (didn’t love the book and have never seen the movie), but I understand its place in American literature/film, and, like you, don’t think it should be censored just because it happened to be written in the wrong time about the “wrong” thing. The author of the article writes indignantly that GWTW “portrays the Yankees as villains”—boo hoo! To southerners like Mitchell, they WERE villains! Yankees were killing their fathers and brothers and husbands. Does he expect her to be like, “Yeah, well, my poor husband was killed in the war, but he’s a shitbag fighting to keep people enslaved so we can run our plantation so I guess it’s okay since it’s all for the greater good”?

    Third of all: No one is waving a giant banner of Scarlett O’Hara on top of the state house and tacitly endorsing Margaret Mitchell’s racism. Several states ARE, however, waving a giant banner that represents the KKK, thus tacitly approving *their* racism. GWTW is valued for its literary merit and groundbreaking film techniques and earnings; the Confederate flag is valued for what it teaches us not to be. I don’t really want to live in a country where several states fly symbols of what we shouldn’t be over their state houses.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  11. If the world went the way of this man’s opinion, our entire history would be erased. Including everything that happens each day in the present. Because prejudice and hatred and ignorance and violence are all still very much alive. We can’t ignore our history, nor should we condemn the people of the past, especially artists, who were simply trying to explore and explain the cultural idiosyncrasies and atrocities of their time.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  12. Totally agree with you. I actually reread it recently and frankly was stunned by the language ( I read much less analytically when I was younger) but that was the times and pretending like it wasn’t real is insulting the memories of everyone it affected.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  13. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

    Like

    July 9, 2015
  14. I would amend the last line to

    And, once and for all, can we just stop trying to censor every form of speech we disagree with?

    Like

    July 9, 2015
  15. Reblogged this on The Book Ends.

    Like

    July 9, 2015

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