The film critic for The New York Post wants to relegate Gone With the Wind to the museum:
Warner Bros. just stopped licensing another of pop culture’s most visible uses of the Confederate flag — toy replicas of the General Lee, an orange Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard’’ — as retailers like Amazon and Walmart have finally backed away from selling merchandise with that racist symbol.
That studio sent “Gone with the Wind’’ back into theaters for its 75th anniversary in partnership with its sister company Turner Classic Movies in 2014, but I have a feeling the movie’s days as a cash cow are numbered. It’s showing on July 4 at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the museum’s salute to the 100th anniversary of Technicolor — and maybe that’s where this much-loved but undeniably racist artifact really belongs.
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True confession time: I have never thought much of the film personally, viewing it as a fairly standard Hollywood potboiler of the time, made epic by stars, Technicolor and a huge budget. Perhaps part of my dislike of the film is that I know too much about the period and when it rings false as to the time it purports to represent, my teeth go on edge. However, to ban it as some sort of avatar of the Confederacy is ludicrous.
The amusing part of this farce is that one of the major themes of the movie was how foolish it was for the South to fight a war with the North.
This theme is underlined by the scene showing a crowd in Atlanta getting the casualty lists of the battle of Gettysburg. The sorrow of the band director who has just learned that his son has been killed cries out from the screen as he has his band, largely made up of boys and old men, play Dixie, and the camera pans in on a fife player who is weeping.
The portrayal of blacks of course in Gone With the Wind now strikes most Americans as offensive, but Hattie McDaniel’s portrayal of the strong willed Mammy won her an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1940. At the time there were some protests of the film by blacks, but far more blacks came out to see the film and appreciated the humanity and strength that Hattie McDaniel gave to a character who could easily have come across as a mere stereotype.
If we are now going to be judging Art by the sensibilities of twenty-first century Leftists, we will have precious little Art left to us, along with precious little History.