Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We still give a damn

Sunday my friend John and I went to see Gone with the Wind, enhanced and on the big screen again
to celebrate its 75th anniversary. We had a great time.

I saw this movie for the first time when I was still in high school, released in theaters for the 35th anniversary. It was the 70s. The audience back then thought Scarlett O'Hara rocked. She was a feminist's feminist.

Then in 1989, for the 50th anniversary, I saw it in the theater again. By then the word "bitch" was being bandied about to describe Katie Scarlett.

In 2014, the prevailing audience sentiment seemed to be that Scarlett was selfish and silly.

I find this fascinating, since the movie doesn't change, but this country -- and our perception of women's roles -- continues to.

I'm still the 70s gal. I still think Scarlett is a tough, brilliant but blind heroine who somehow keeps her family safe and fed in the worst times despite facing unimaginable hardships. I love Miss Melly, too. She's the woman I wish I was. Just as tough as Scarlett, but always in touch with her better self.

And then there's the racial aspect. GWTW is filled with happy darkies serving benign slave owners. The Ku Klux Klan is referred to as a "political party." It's pretty odios. My friend John is black. He was one of 4 people of color in the theater Sunday.

When I saw the movie in the 1970s, there were no African Americans in the theater. But that didn't surprise me because the neighborhood my family lived in was lily white. Every movie I saw, I saw with an all-white audience. In 1989, the theater was all-white, too, and I was aware of it because the neighborhood where I chose to live when I left home is racially diverse.

John said he wanted to see it Sunday because 1) it was an event, 2) because the Civil War happened, 3) the attitudes of the country in the 1930s when the film was made happened, too and 4) it's always good to spend a Sunday afternoon with me.


  1. Very interesting observations about movie audience diversity.

  2. Interesting observations. I, too, think of Scarlett as tough. Certainly Rhett did. I hate the silly simper she has to put on in order to be accepted by her society, but she handled both the hard businesswoman and the "little woman" with ease. I think modern audience may have trouble seeing past that, and putting her behavior in context of the times.


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