A few weeks ago I showed my Canadian friend Gone With the Wind, since he had never seen it, and I said it was crucial to understanding America. Now, we all know this movie contains some of the worst racial stereotypes, and also lionizes the Confederate south and mourns the “lost way of life” that existed there, including having slaves.
The racial stereotypes were awful, but now, in this cultural moment, they seemed absolutely perverse. I think the film has numerous other merits, and also just is what it is—a huge cinematic monument—yet I was thinking “Could I watch this in the presence of a black person?” How could any theater, at this time, ask general audiences, including black people, to watch it? Can we say “Yes, this movie has lots of merit, if you can get past the part where it’s saying that your people should be enslaved and are lazy idiots?” Can we say “Yes, but this just represents one viewpoint…” and ask black people to just watch it and get into it?
The main feeling was “Wow, soon we won’t be able to show this movie at all,” which causes one to reflect. Later, I re-watched Dressed To Kill, with its male writer/director exploring the idea of women wanting to be raped, and excitement over the idea of prostitutes with hearts of gold, and thought the same thing: “Soon, we won’t be able to show this film at all.”
Given all that his happening, with the films and art of men who have offended, as well as works starring the men themselves, having to be vanquished from existence, it would seem that we are heading into an era in which the culture of the past, including some major works considered to be of very high quality and artistic significance, will have to simply disappear. What do we think about that?
One viewpoint—my own—is that over the past several decades, diversity and anti-racism have taken over school curriculums, so that we have a few generations of people who don’t know much about anything—except that racism is BAD. And that is the only lens through which they are able to see anything—and they are quite ready to lecture your ignorant ass with their Sociology 101 understanding. They can not make aesthetic or intellectual judgments, only moral ones. Exhibit A is this review of Ghost World, in which the (white girl) author can see nothing about the film except the incident regarding a racial stereotype. She misses everything else the film has to offer, and doesn’t seem to get the crucial idea that the bus at the end does not exist at all, but it matters not, because for her, the ONLY thing that film is about is the racial stereotype. One could argue that this is a very important issue to bring up, and it is. One could also argue that there is a lot of other stuff going on in the film, and to ONLY view it in regard to this one small part of it is narrow to the point of exclusion. What do you think?
So I’m just generating discussion about this. I don’t have the answers, I just want to know what you think. Answer in the comments. Please let’s be respectful and not attack other commenters (or me). Comments that attack others will be deleted or not posted. Respect other people and viewpoints, and let me know your thoughts.