Here’s that explanatory prelude to Gone With The Wind if you watch it on HBO Max. The speaker is TCM host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart, a University of Chicago professor of cinema studies and director of the nonprofit arts organization, Black Cinema House.
Stewart covers all the appropriate and relevant bases except one — the fact that WASP film sophistos have long understood that portions of Gone with the Wind are rife with antiquated racist sentiments, and have therefore ignored this or, if you will, put these aspects into a box and closed the lid shut and stored it in the attic.
Passage that would have made Stewart’s explanation sound even wiser: “X-factor film buffs have been way ahead of the ‘Gone With The Wind is racist’ conversation for decades. For they primarily regard this 1939 epic not as a portrait of the Old South or Antebellum slavery or even a Civil War drama, but as a parable about the deprivations of the Great Depression.
“This cinematic fraternity has long argued out that Margaret Mitchell’s 1937 novel is fundamentally about how life separates the survivors from the victims when the chips are down, and about the necessity of scrappy, hand-to-mouth survival under the cruelest and most miserable of conditions…it basically says ‘only the strongest and the most determined survive.'”
From “Tough All Over,” posted on 6.15.20: “Jennifer Schuessler‘s “The Long Battle Over Gone With the Wind,” a perceptive and mostly fair-minded summary of the varied reactions to David O. Selznick‘s 1939 classic over the decades, notes that “white audiences…were largely swept up in celebration of the nearly four-hour Technicolor epic, with its hundreds of extras, lavish costumes and themes of grit and survival that resonated with a country emerging from the Depression.”
True, African Americans have long dealt with far more hardships and uphill situations than whites, and especially during the 1930s, but grit and steel are necessities within any tribe or culture in any time period. “Survival of the toughest” is a recognized rule all over the world.
From “A Minor Point At Such A Moment,” posted on 6.9.20.