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Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind  

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  1. 1. Does "Gone with the Wind" belong on the AFI list?

    • ✅ Great balls of fire!
      9
    • ❌ Fiddle-dee-dee!
      8

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  • Poll closes on 07/19/19 at 07:00 AM

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Paul & Amy go to war over 1939's blockbuster Southern epic Gone With The Wind! They praise the chemistry of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh, watch a trailer for the misbegotten sequel, and ask whether a film this messy deserves to be in the AFI's Top 10. Plus: Kevin J. Goff, the great grand-nephew of Hattie McDaniel, talks to Amy about her legacy.

Suggest a cocktail for us to drink on next week's episode, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, by calling the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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I'm SHOOK by how much praise Paul and Amy immediately heap on this movie!

The spiritual life of Gone with the Wind is truly evil. It's a monster animated by racial hatred. It wants you to mourn the loss of this glamorous southern gentry, whose foundations are the totally unexplored - deliberately made invisible - crime of slavery. Without ever saying the "N" word, it is by leaps and bound the most racist and vociferous promoter of racism I have ever seen on film. To talk about this movie without front-loading a gigantic heaping portion of venomous SCORN for this truly awful, hate-filled, confederate propaganda is a huge disservice.

I cannot believe Amy doesn't see this movie as promoting the confederacy. Mind blown. I'm 100% with Paul, Amy is off her rocker. She defends her position well, but I don't buy it.

Yes, it's a beautiful epic - but no other film fits the description of lipstick on a pig so aptly. Gone with the Wind is a dressed up beautiful race crime of a movie. It does not deserve to be on the AFI 100 list any more than Birth of a Nation (shamefully still at 44 *Not true thanks for pointing this out!*).

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1 hour ago, Dr_Scientist_DDS said:

It does not deserve to be on the AFI 100 list any more than Birth of a Nation (shamefully still at 44).

Birth of a Nation isn't on the list anymore. #44 is The Philadelphia Story. Maybe you're still looking at the 1997 version. 

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Whatever one might say about this film, it undeniably is the basis of several generations' view of slavery, the civil war, and the South. I would 100% listen to Amy's mini-series where she discusses the magnetic pull and troubling legacy of "Gone With The Wind" with everyone from director Spike Lee to author Ta-Nehisi Coates to modern feminists to today's "white nationalists" (a.k.a. racists). I know this doesn't exist...but it should!

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4 hours ago, Dr_Scientist_DDS said:

I cannot believe Amy doesn't see this movie as promoting the confederacy. Mind blown. I'm 100% with Paul, Amy is off her rocker. She defends her position well, but I don't buy it.

Yeah, this was a tough one to understand.  And I'll be slow to criticize Amy for seeing aspects of this film that seemingly no one else agrees with (since I apparently had a similar experience last week with The Deer Hunter), but I would have liked to hear her try to defend the intertitles, which is the clearest example of language consistent with the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" mentality.  It's one thing for the dumb southern white men to be gung-ho about the war, because as Amy said, you can write that off as criticism, since the characters are dumb.  But it's another thing for the intertitle cards, which should be as objective as a film can be (not to rehash the subjectivity/objectivity arguments of last week), to call the Confederate soldiers "gallant" and to decry the Southern loss as the destruction of a civilization.  Here's the opening intertitle: "There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave."  This is blatant glorification of slavery!  (Does anyone have screenshots of all the other intertitles?  There's a ton of tough stuff in them, but I already deleted the film off my DVR and don't want to re-record tomorrow night's TCM showing just for the title cards.)  Also, having the Yankee rich man call the Confederate soldier "Southern scum" is clear demonization of the North.  I truly love Amy and her work, but I can't help but feel like she conveniently ignored the parts that she wanted to ignore, except for the racism, which is so blatant that it can't be ignored.  As Paul argued in this episode, I also couldn't help but think that excising certain character traits or actions or even this whole Lost Cause point of view would improve the film, and it frustrated me to hear Amy defend these things with an argument that boils down to "you're supposed to feel conflicted, that's what makes it great" which I really don't buy.

Because I absolutely see the racism and Lost Cause propaganda (which I shall refer to in this paragraph as "the bullshit") as the fog obscuring what could be an amazing film, not as a special effect contributing to its brilliance.  Because I think Scarlett is a fascinating character, even if I don't actually like her.  Without all the bullshit, Scarlett's "any means necessary" approach to survival would lead to great conversations about feminism today.  Without all the bullshit, the fact that she is filled with foolish pride despite never actually learning anything could be seen today as a metaphor for the stupidity of the Lost Cause movement rather than its glory, as the South clings to stupid arguments that the Confederate flag represents something cultural rather than something racist.  Without all the bullshit, we could feel good pointing to this film as one of the most beautifully shot films ever made, which it is.  And I can see all those things in this film, and maybe further on in this thread we'll talk about filmmaking and plot choices and performances.  But for me, that bullshit fog is always there in view, distracting me like a smudge on the screen.  Except this particular smudge happens to incite white nationalists.

And I also bristle a bit against Paul trying to make clear that this isn't in the same league as Birth of a Nation.  Wherever you land on separating those two things, it's a much more complicated conversation, because both films have the exact same Lost Cause bones in them.  And to be completely honest, I haven't seen Birth of a Nation and I don't think Paul has either*, but we know the plot points that have deservedly earned this film a reputation of racism.  But I would say that Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind spout the same politics, with Gone With the Wind being the dog-whistle version of Birth of a Nation.

So while there's a lot to admire about this, there's zero way that I could in good conscience support glorifying this film anymore than it already is.  Like statues of Confederate generals, we need to start tearing down this film.


*Edit: Paul replied below to point out that I was wrong about this and that he has seen the film.

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My feeling on this is that the movie both glorifies the old South and acknowledges the folly in thinking it could continue. It is both/and, and neither/nor.  By today's standards it is unacceptably racist and white-centric. By the standards of the time it probably represented a progressive advance over stuff like Birth of a Nation or The General, in that it actually contained black characters with real speaking roles and had its leading man oppose the war effort in the first place. I can see the argument for keeping it on as a necessary historical document, and because there is a lot of greatness in it.

I also think the complexity of Scarlett the character DOES represent the conflicted way this film depicts the Confederacy: kind of respecting the way she perseveres, but also showing how it leaves her unfulfilled and unhappy. She doesn't get a happy ending here. I don't think Paul quite gives the film enough credit for presenting this character as multifaceted and interesting.

Re: placement, I basically agree with Paul: keep it on the list, but it's too high. The problematic stuff can't be entirely excused, though some is also standard "product of its time" stuff.

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I’d just like to respond Bleary. I have seen Birth of Nation and the point I was making in the podcast was, it’s the same bones but we don’t see it that way because the skin of this one is wrapped up in a melodramatic story line.  

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1 minute ago, paulscheer said:

I’d just like to respond Bleary. I have seen Birth of Nation and the point I was making in the podcast was, it’s the same bones but we don’t see it that way because the skin of this one is wrapped up in a melodramatic story line.  

My sincere apologies, I honestly thought you had mentioned on an earlier podcast that you hadn't seen it, but I clearly am remembering something else.

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8 hours ago, Dr_Scientist_DDS said:

I'm SHOOK by how much praise Paul and Amy immediately heap on this movie!

The spiritual life of Gone with the Wind is truly evil. It's a monster animated by racial hatred. It wants you to mourn the loss of this glamorous southern gentry, whose foundations are the totally unexplored - deliberately made invisible - crime of slavery. Without ever saying the "N" word, it is by leaps and bound the most racist and vociferous promoter of racism I have ever seen on film.

You must not have seen Birth of a Nation. That actually does make black people into its villains while the Klan are the heroes. I do think Paul & Amy misrepresent Birth vs GWTW's takes on the Civil War though. Birth presents itself as pro-Lincoln (perhaps because Lincoln had been practically universally recognized as a great martyred President), and his death is depicted as the cause of trouble between north & south. At the end of the film northern & southern whites are supposed to have a happy re-union as Lincoln supposedly wished. It's not the dream of an independent south rising against/apart from the north. It's called "Birth of a Nation" because it regards national unity as having been forged through the experience depicted.

For it's part, Gone With the Wind isn't as concerned with race, but it does romanticize the Old South plantations. It's primarily taking the POV of someone who benefitted from that system, emphasizing how nice it was for that class and how much worse it was for them afterward. It criticizes the southern fireeaters who kicked off a war they were overconfident in winning, but they're being blamed for losing a way of life the movie holds in high regard.

Contrary to Amy's assumptions, the wealth of the industrialized north was NOT dependent on slavery. The idea has been promoted by some historians recently, but economic historians find it doesn't hold up.

https://pseudoerasmus.com/2014/11/10/slavery_and_industrialism/

 

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I have sooooo many issues with a lot of what Amy had to say in this episode, many of which are addressed elsewhere in the thread, but I gotta jump in with a quick fact check : the USA did not enter WWII until three years after this film opened. It seems unlikely any woman sitting down in an American theatre in 1939 was thinking "we're going to have to go into the factories now". 

Of a piece with a lot of what sounded to my ears like a LOT of reading meanings back into the film so that adult Amy can love the movie as much as child Amy did. 

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I have to admit, I really wrestle with this film. I understand why people might hate it, yet I kinda still love it. I think Amy over-defends it. But I understand where she’s coming from. Yeah, the film criticizing the rush to war — but mostly for pragmatic reasons. As Rhett says, the South is simply not well equipped. Aside from that, the film obviously romanticizes the antebellum South.

The film is absolutely from the POV of a spoiled rich Southern white woman. Rhett and Scarlett are a couple of narcissists. You can see the film as an extension of that narcissism — both portraying it and exemplifying it. The film’s pro-confederate rhetoric echoes the main characters’ self-centeredness. GWTW isn’t really about the Civil War though. The protagonists don’t even care about the war. Scarlett just wants to dance and flirt. Rhett — for the most part— only cares about saving his own skin.

Rhett and Scarlett ultimately represent the unheroic, narcissistic, pleasure-seeking side of America. America First, can’t find other countries on a map, speak English! Rather watch Avengers than watch the news? Yup, that’s America too. This is America’s shadow side. We can embrace it, challenge it, and engage with it — but we can’t just repress it and pretend it isn’t there.

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If any work of art---great, good or middling---is to be judged foremost by its political implications or associations, we're going to end up with very, very little left on this list or any other. Works of art represent, intentionally or unintentionally, the precepts of their times, and that includes their prejudices. If we're going to discard, reflexively, American films (or literature) that have problematic representations of race, then... well... we're looking at possibly eliminating a majority of works of the 20th century.

If you institute a system in which works are evaluated principally by political correctness, you're going to have to consider all forms of political incorrectness, not just race, and not just one race. So once we eliminate the works that don't appropriately depict African Americans, we'll have consider portrayals of Native Americans, and Asian Americans, and eliminate those that do not align with our contemporary precepts---so goodbye all Westerns, among many others. Then when you're done with race, you'll need to examine the status and representation---or some would even hazard exploitation---of women in the works that remain. I think a lot of feminists (and including men) could argue the case against many films made until... this year. Then we'll move on to gender and sexual identity...

No one has to watch "Gone with the Wind" who doesn't want to. No film on this list is prescribed viewing. Setting aside its technical and historical (re: filmmaking) merits, GwtW's continued inclusion can, in fact, be an important means of discussing the racial dynamics not merely of the perceived 1860s and '70s, but of the 1930s, when it was made. This was MASS entertainment that spoke to millions of Americans, and for decades afterwards. GwtW can inform people, in a direct way, about white Americans' perceptions and representations of black Americans in the years before World War II, when there's obviously so little genuine representation of them on film. GwtW is important as a film work because this representation was certainly a fraught issue for its filmmakers, who wanted as broad an audience as possible: This was meant to be blockbuster. The same considerations of overt racism and prejudice popular filmmakers today consider when framing their films were considered then, just within a different (and yes, lesser and ill informed) paradigm. This film can be seen as an important document of 1930s racial politics that, yes, shows exactly how little say black Americans themselves had in their own representation. That alone is worth serious examination.

If you banish this film, or any film, due to political considerations, you also banish direct evidence of that era's (racial or any other) politics. Cultural critics and their critiques have their place, but they shouldn't be gatekeepers to cultural constructs and relics, providing only their received interpretations. People need to be able to watch or read works themselves, think about them, and discuss and debate them. Serious viewers (and readers) of art don't let their interpretations be determined by the works' producers. Everything is, in one form or another, a testament of the time it came from.

Having argued for GwtW's right to continue to exist, and be listed as a cinematic achievement, I'll provide my reactions to Amy's and Paul's comments ...

I actually agree with Paul's view that GwtW is foremost a melodrama. But (ref: above) that is totally indicative of the era in which it was made. Tonally, it perhaps should've been black and white. But it was meant to be a blockbuster, featuring the latest in cinematic technology in the late '30s, so it had to be in color. 

Obviously, I think Paul was wrongly foregrounding political considerations rather than its technical merits, and in doing so, I think he--and many of the people commenting who have "problems" with Amy's support of the film--miss what the film is actually most preoccupied about. When you watch GwtW and focus on its racial politics, you miss what the film really wants to talk about. What Amy is arguing for, but not saying explicitly, is that GwtW is a woman's picture, because its primary concern is about a woman's role in the world. 

Margaret Mitchell, as many critics and biographers have argued, was basically re-writing or re-imagining her own story. As Amy referenced, she had alternately resisted and acquiesced to the strictures placed upon a "Southern lady" throughout her life: She chaffed at them, but was never willing to completely defy them. That's what GwtW is actually concerned with: a woman's ability to chart her own course in life (and yes, a privileged, white, racist, cisgender, heterosexual woman--did I miss anything?). 

If Mitchell had set the tale of Scarlett in the early, or even turn of the, 20th century, the conventions and strictures she herself had pushed against, and thereby her character too, would have been those that were generally accepted by her peers and audience. Putting Scarlett in the past allowed her---both author and character---to defy "outdated" conventions, even if stupidly romanticized, the defiance of which wouldn't seem controversial for her audience. Because arguing for women's autonomy and right to self-determination in the 1930s was a radical act, it had to be cloaked in conservatism to find a willing audience. But Scarlett's story starts with the end of the plantation South; her story is deliberately set against its demise.

If you view this film without worrying about its racial politics---they're not good, we can all acknowledge that; but a LOT of films have troubling racial and/or gender politics---you can allow yourself to view it through a feminist lens, and if you do, from the very start, you'll see it's a film about a smart, determined 16 year old who wants more than what's she allowed to have, by a sexist, hypocritical, patriarchal society. (Comparison: she's the Regina George of the 19th century, convoluting her talents and sublimating her real ambitions.)  

The opening scene sets a theme: The Tarleton boys are clearly not worthy of Scarlett's full attention and time, she's just playing a game and going through the motions, pure frivolity. And all the other men in the film are not worthy of her--except Rhett Butler. The film is about the fact it takes Scarlett 20 years to become an authentic person, in modern parlance, to shed, layer by layer, her adherence to the social order and mores she was born into.

Her misguided belief that Ashley Wilkes must be her mate can't be understood properly unless you look carefully at socio-economics. Scarlett's father was an Irish immigrant, and Catholic. The O'Haras were rich planters, yes, but weren't by any means the leading family in the county: The Wilkeses were. (In the novel it's made explicit the Wilkeses were from Virginia and certainly Protestant.) Marrying Ashley---in a society that only allowed women marriage as a life's vocation---was, for teenaged Scarlett, the brass ring, the greatest achievement she could fathom, although clearly Ashley wasn't completely ill suited for her. But when all you can do is get married, marrying the richest and most important man you can is... most important.  (For a real life 20th century comparison: Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles.)  

The war, the South's defeat, the end of slavery, etc. provide opportunities for Margaret Mitchell to put Scarlett in situations where she has "no choice" but to operate as a strong, determined woman making her own way. External forces can be blamed for it, not Scarlett's own will, which makes her still acceptable to readers (and later viewers) as a lady. As Amy points out, though, she is in the fields working as hard as everyone else, but more importantly as hard as a man. She starts a business where no man could see the opportunity to do so. She runs the business with a better eye on the bottom line than any man does. This film is a fantasy about a woman making in a man's world. But that story set any other time would've been unappealing to then-contemporary audiences, and still melodrama was required to necessitate the story and her actions. Her first two husbands die because it's the only acceptable means of disposing of them for the time period; but what Mitchell is really doing is discarding men from Scarlett's life when they're no longer of use to her.  

The men in film, with the exception of Rhett, are dolts, blowhards, or purely ineffectual. (Although Scarlett loves her father, he's presented as leading the foolish "debate" about the South's chances in the early scene Amy references, and falls apart during the war; the book makes it clear it's her mother who ran the plantation.) Women in GwtW are the role models, the ones who are noble and good---Mrs. O'Hara and Melanie---or prevail and triumph---Scarlett and Belle Watling. And yes, this includes Mammie and Prissy.

Mammie is clearly presented as a kind, smart, affectionate character throughout the film. She's never made to look ridiculous or the fool. She's consistently the only one who's "got Scarlett's number." And as Amy points out, in the pivotal scene with Prissy and Scarlett, Prissy's actually no fool. Whether Mitchell and filmmakers recognized this consciously or not can be debated, but Prissy is a 19th slave member of the #resistance. She's a teenaged girl, separated from her family and friends, who's powerless, but she wields what power she has to manipulate Scarlett and those around her. She only acts the fool to survive and get her way, I would argue.

Definitely Big Sam is an African American character whose representation is absolutely problematic. It's definitely overtly racist. Yet, it's partially due to the fact no man in this film other than Rhett is credited with genuine savvy. Sam is discriminated against and badly characterized both for the color of his skin and his sex.

I'm not even a mega GwtW fan---it wouldn't be on my personal top 50. I hardly even think about it when I think of my favorite films. I last saw it 15? years ago when it was re-released in theatres. But I hope this post (which I know is long) evinces the fact there's a lot in the movie, and a lot to be said about it, and foregrounding the discussion of slavery and racial politics routinely seems to inhibit, or prohibit, a discussion of everything else that's going on in the film. Focusing primarily on one of many elements is overly reductive, and places contemporary standards on it that are going to be impossible for a LOT of films from the 20th---and 21st---century to withstand, if you're consistent in applying them. 

The film isn't attempting to glorify slavery or even segregation because it doesn't even want to talk about race, in actuality. It's a trope that's employed because of its setting. But just because a work doesn't want to discuss something doesn't mean you don't, and because Mitchell and filmmakers chose the Civil War as the context for the film, there certainly should be discussions of race in relation to it. I'm not arguing against that. But talk about racial representation in it and contextualize it to the time the film was made, and accept the fact you cannot unmake the past. I'm gay. There are a LOT of films and media I watch that make me personally cringe when I see them. But I don't advocate for their exclusion from our consciousness, because they accurately, for better or worse, represent the eras in which they were made, and we need to remember how things were---really were---and not how people want us to remember them. And the best way to do that is to read and watch things ourselves, consider them, and discuss.                

      

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59 minutes ago, PureSly said:

Definitely Big Sam is an African American character whose representation is absolutely problematic. It's definitely overtly racist. Yet, it's partially due to the fact no man in this film other than Rhett is credited with genuine savvy. Sam is discriminated against and badly characterized both for the color of his skin and his sex.

I think this character raises interesting questions. Has he fully internalized society’s racism? Is he saying one thing to white plantation owners—but possibly saying something else to his friends and family? Is he perhaps like a recovering abuse survivor who may change his views over time? 

Obviously, the film does not intend to raise these questions. But to me, it invites comparison to all the ways someone might identify with their abuser / oppressor. Or, at least, act as if they do.

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I'm glad Paul called out Amy for saying Joanne Whalley was a nobody...I thought she was extremely rude and arrogant for doing so.

Even if she wasn't familiar with the actress it was snobbish to say she was nobody.

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This was a tough watch. I’ve been studying and teaching U.S. history for over 30 years. I love movies, but I’ve avoided GWTW because of its reputation for historical inaccuracy and its causal acceptance of the myths of white supremacy. It’s true GWTW doesn’t foreground white supremacy, but it’s at the very heart of the story. And the historical liberties made me cringe all the way through. 

I give the movie some credit for pursuing the idea that war brings horror and misery, especially to civilians caught up in the fighting. And I was pleasantly  surprised by the characters of Scarlet and Rhett. Both are complicated and flawed, and have an edge to them that makes them fun to watch. But GWTW is an elegy for a way of life that was built on the backs of enslaved humans. Every time the theme of  “The Lost Cause” came up, I thought of the untold and unquantifiable suffering the system of American slavery brought to millions of people. To romanticize the Southern way of life the way GWTW does is too much to bear.

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On 7/12/2019 at 1:09 AM, SeekerofJoy said:

Rhett and Scarlett ultimately represent the unheroic, narcissistic, pleasure-seeking side of America. America First, can’t find other countries on a map, speak English! Rather watch Avengers than watch the news? Yup, that’s America too. This is America’s shadow side. We can embrace it, challenge it, and engage with it — but we can’t just repress it and pretend it isn’t there.

I don't think anyone is trying to pretend this movie doesn't exist. I think we can (and are) challenging it, engaging with it, and deconstructing it's misguidedness. I don't think we need to embrace it or venerate it. Like confederate statues, movies like this and Birth of a Nation belong (if anywhere) in museums that can provide accurate historical context. There can be a discussion of how cinema changed because of or in spite of these movies. That doesn't mean we need to laud them and include them among the 100 BEST American Films. In fact, I think the fact that Birth was removed and this one is still on the list gets at the nature of how white supremacy has changed over time and persists today. It's no longer socially acceptable to be blatantly racist (thought that certainly seems to be changing today), but this upholds the systemic racism inherent in our society and the continual dehumanization of people of color. It also gets at how white Americans just completely erase the parts of history they find troublesome, and how slavery seems often categorized as African American history without acknowledging the white history or perpetrating such horrors on another group of people. 

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I have to say, I love this podcast but am kind of new to it and the last two episodes I watched was the one on "A Clockwork Orange," and this one. There seems to be a real hypocritical nature to the way that Amy condemned Kubrick for trying to make Alex likable, and how she defended this film, which clearly tries to make you like Scarlett...a slave owning racist. It seems to me that Clockwork Orange went out of its way to show no redeeming characteristics in Alex, yet this film was a love letter to the Confederate south.

Amy gave no slack to Kubrick but bent over backward to misinterpret scenes to make this film less horrendous. Take her interpretation of the scene where they discuss how The Union (northerners) might be able to "lick" the Confederacy in a battle. She tried to say that this scene was the film trying to show how it thought the war was "dumb," but clearly this was a scene designed to show the Confederates as plucky optimists while still letting them appear brave by pointing out that the North had a clear advantage. The scene was CLEARLY designed to make the Confederates look better and was in no way intended to show that the film was painting them as stupid for fighting the war. In the end of the scene, Ashley was supposed to look brave for fighting for Georgia...aka The Confederacy, THAT'S why they had him point out how The Union had a clear advantage.
 

 I'm not throwing shade on Amy, but I think she clearly had a childhood connection to this movie and was reviewing it with rose colored glasses. She clearly didn't have any connection to "A Clockwork Orange" and tried hard to judge it as misogynistic and as unsympathetic to the victims in the film. To be able to make those connections for one film and not to understand "Gone with the Wind" as the love letter to the racist confederate south that it was obviously meant to be, just seems weird. 

I mean seriously though, if you thought "A Clockwork Orange" made its evil main character look better than "Gone with the Wind" made its evil main character look...then you weren't reviewing these two films with an equal level of objectivity.  "Gone with the Wind" clearly loved its racist slave-owning characters.  To see it as anything else is to inject your own fictional backstories and theories into it. At face value, it's clear which movie glorified evil and which didn't. 

Kubrick didn't try to make you fall in love with his monster.   

Still loving the podcast, and still think Amy's great, but watching these two particular episodes back to back kind of made her lose just a smidgen of credibility in the objectivity of her reviews of films. Just saying...

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I'm surprised this episode didn't at least touch on how much of a cinematic influence Gone With the Wind was for Star Wars.

Inspired by the episode, I sat down this weekend and re-watched GWTW for the first time in over 20 years and probably felt about the same about it as Paul: I liked it, I was pulled in by the story, found the racist whitewashing to be a check on total enjoyment, and ultimately feel it should stay on the list but perhaps be demoted.

But, one thing I could not get over was how much I saw the spiritual predecessor of Star Wars in this movie. Rhett Butler is Han Solo, 100%. And while Scarlett O'Hara and Leia Organa may be different types of characters, they are played with much of the same spirit. It is undeniable that the sharp, bickering chemistry between Rhett and Scarlett is a template for the same dynamic between Han Solo and Princess Leia. The dramatic swells of music and sunset cinematography when Scarlett and her father stand silhouetted in front of Tara feels like a descendant to the emotional crest of Luke Skywalker staring longingly at the setting twin suns of Tattooine. The film even opens with a vertically scrolling "crawl" dropping us into the world with enough perfunctory exposition to set the scene.

Others have explored this relationship much more deeply, and apparently this is a well known influence on George Lucas. Once I Googled the comparison I was struck by a "how did I never notice this before!" moment when I saw the Gone With the Wind and Empire Strikes back posters put side by side.

I'm probably late to the party on this observation, but nevertheless I found it fascinating as someone who has ignored Gone With the Wind for the better part of my life and yet spent a good portion of it enraptured by the galaxy far, far away. Other influences like "Hidden Fortress" and "Flash Gordon" are more obvious and thus brought up more often in discussions about what fed into the pastiche machine that is "Star Wars". Watching Gone With the Wind finally clicked many of the other pieces into place and crystallized my understanding of why Star Wars was so successful: On the surface it gave us something new and otherworldly, but in its bones it was classic cinema through and through.

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7 minutes ago, Jeffery Charles Nighswander said:

. She tried to say that this scene was the film trying to show how it thought the war was "dumb," but clearly this was a scene designed to show the Confederates as plucky optimists while still letting the be brave by pointing out that the North had a clear advantage. The scene was CLEARLY designed to make the Confederates look better and was in no way intended to show that the film was painting them as stupid for fighting the war.

I haven’t listened to the episode yet so I can’t speak to context, but I will say that I’m currently reading Grant by Ron Chernow, and at least according to him, the film seems to be pretty accurate regarding the attitudes of the people at the time. No one thought it would come to actually come to war, and even if it did, it would only be a bit of saber rattling and be over in a month or two. So I agree, I don’t think the movie was trying to paint the Confederates as being “dumb” but rather than to show that the prevailing attitude at the time - on both sides - was one of overconfidence. Why not talk tough and enlist when it’s all going to be over in a couple of weeks? I mean, civilians brought their children and picnic baskets the Battle of Bull Run! That’s how much people underestimated how brutal and protracted the war would be.

For me, that scene is more of a character moment to show us just how shrewd Rhett Butler is and how insightful Ashley is. They are the only two to recognize the severity of the situation, and both respond in very different ways. So, no, I don’t think it’s commenting on their stupidity rather than documenting the historical reality.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

For me, that scene is more of a character moment to show us just how shrewd Rhett Butler is and how insightful Ashley is. They are the only two to recognize the severity of the situation, and both respond in very different ways. So, no, I don’t think it’s commenting on their stupidity rather than documenting the historical reality.

I could agree with that, but to my point, it definitely didn't do anything to paint anyone in a negative light. I don't feel the film, in relation to racism, does this to any of the white characters. No one is seen as being wrong for being racist. They may have negative characteristics but those traits are negative in a way that does nothing to chastise them for being racist. Compared to "A Clockwork Orange" where the entire film is painting Alex as a monster. I was just commenting on how Amy seemed to hold Kubrick accountable a whole lot more for any kind of positive feelings the viewer may get from Alex's likable traits as opposed to this movie which really does celebrate a society that was horrendously racist.

It just seemed kind of hypocritical. Then again, I did listen to both episodes in succession. In my opinion "A Clockwork Orange" was a film that clearly was meant to shock you in regards to the evil it showed and "Gone with the Wind" seemed to be a film that didn't really even understand that it was showing you evil.

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8 minutes ago, Jeffery Charles Nighswander said:

I could agree with that, but to my point, it definitely didn't do anything to paint anyone in a negative light.

Oh, I know. I wasn't trying to defend anyone. They're all shits. I was just agreeing with you that I doubt the movie was trying to portray the other Confederates as "dumb" so much as it was merely illustrating the prevailing attitudes of the time. I don't feel like the film was either endorsing or criticizing their behavior. Again, I haven't listened yet so I'm not sure of the context, but it's easy to say in hindsight, "Look at how dumb those people were! Surely they knew they knew how wrong they were and they never had a chance." My point was, historically, no they didn't. The war was anything but a sure thing and the movie. The only thing that particular scene said to me was Rhett is a pragmatist who is the only person who can see that the proverbial winds are changing and isn't so married to the past that he can't evolve - even thrive - with the times. 

I don't really have a comment on Clockwork Orange/ Gone with the Wind comparison.  

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5 hours ago, Jeffery Charles Nighswander said:

Still loving the podcast, and still think Amy's great, but watching these two particular episodes back to back kind of made her lose just a smidgen of credibility in the objectivity of her reviews of films. Just saying...

I think you make a fair point that Amy is being inconsistent in her treatment of Scarlett vs. Alex (and I guess Travis Bickle too, though she mentions that in the episode), but I will also say here that in the long run you'll probably be better off if you let go of any expectation that artistic criticism is ever going to be "objective." Everyone has their biases.

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