I read today that a movie theater in Memphis Tennessee, which for years has featured an annual showing of the move Gone With the Wind, has reacted to what has this year been an overwhelming backlash in social media pointing out that the glossing of slavery and the Confederacy in the film was perhaps at this point in our history a bit insensitive, especially to Black Americans.
The theater has pulled the film from the showing.
Reading through the comments attached to the above article, I found the following comment, which I thought concisely summed up the issue.
The movie, like the book on which it was based, is pure racist propaganda, part of the massive industry in Southern revisionism that has gone on more or less continuously since 1865. We should regard it today in the same light in which we witness Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, as a brilliant, corrupt piece of agitprop, a string of gorgeous and yet thoroughly fraudulent images designed to airbrush treason, and to provide cover for a vile and racist philosophy.
Hattie McDaniel, by the way, was not allowed to sit with her co-stars on the night she won her Oscar: it was only by special dispensation that she was allowed into the hotel at all, and throughout the evening she was forced to sit at a segregated table far off to one side.
I find this comment to be cogent and to the point.
I will point out, though, that as part of my intellectual development, watching Triumph of the Will was a critical component, as I studied German language, literature, and history. But then of course I was seeing it the first time in grad school around 1970, in the context of a critical study of a period in history, in order to understand how a society can simply go mad and murder six million people.
Perhaps it is time to frame viewing of a movie like Gone with the Wind in the same context, just as it is time to pull down all the Confederate monuments, put them in museums, and provide clear context that labels them what they are, romanticizing objects of the ultimate act of treason, the Civil War, and glossing over of the fact that the war was fought to end human slavery, one of the ultimate evils it took the human species its entire history to finally think about ending. I say that because you realize it has not ended in some parts of the world, and within many subcultures.
I personally believe that one of the core problems with American culture right now is that for decades, our school systems have failed to teach not only history, but critical thinking. We have a populace which study after study has shown a majority of which simply lack the most basic knowledge of history, and completely lack the skills to realize they are being conned and mis- and disinformed by the mass media and the propaganda masters, in all the organs run by our corporate overlords.