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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Should we Still be Watching 'Gone with the Wind?' Part 2

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So now that weve waded through the shallow inland sea of Confederate Apologetics, Im

hoping we can all agree its not thefactsthat are in dispute here so much as it is

their implications. The debate isnt whether or not the Civil War was fought over slaverythats

a simple matter-of-factbut rather how & why certain people choose to spin the history

to suit their political objectives. Because make no mistake: Confederate Apologetics is

a political position, not a historical oneone which seeks to contextualize & defend the

premeditated evils of long-dead white people before even attempting to understand & improve

the social, economic, and political standing of living people of color. Some Confederate

apologists will try and argue that you can do both at the same time, but in my experience:

the people who spend their days making excuses for the Confederacy are not the same people

who'd support any kind of legislation that would

prioritize the advancement & well-being of black people.

On the contrary: theyre the kinds of people who insist that theydont see color,”

even though study after study proves that we do, who retweet Candice Owens as proof

that they pay attention toblack discourse,” and who misuse Martin Luther King Jr. quotes

to try and silence the reparations debate before it even begins. Because, remember kids:

if youre not in favor of reparations, then youre not really in favor of equality.

Not in this century, anyway.

[nervous laughter] Are there any Confederate apologists still watching? Or did yall log off after

I called you cowards?

All right. As fun as its been to dismantle racist propaganda for the last 25 minutes,

I think Ive proven my pointor at least thoroughly articulated my views. And that

was important to me, because I feel I cant praise Gone with the Wind unless my audience

knows my opinion of the real, live Confederacy first.

Real "dead" Confederacy?

Now that you know what I think of Confederate Lost Cause mythology, I'm hoping you can follow along in good faith when I say that I think

Gone with the Wind is an unmitigated masterpiecea transcendent specimen of cinema that demonstrates

the very apogee to which the filmic medium can ascend! Heh.

Or at the very least: a damn fine film.

I mean, the quality of the movie is the whole reason were even having this debate, right?

Its not like were about to have the same debate about "Scarlett," now, are we?

So, for the most part, Gone with the Wind fans break down into two distinct groups.

There are those who think the film is racist, but still well-worth tolerating, because:

Well, the people who made it were racist; thats just the way things were

back then; the real racism would be to not make it racist; its just a movie; why dont

you quit your delusional social-Marxist utopian virtue-signaling for two seconds and just

accept reality you whiney feminist SJW cu—?” Which is all just a bunch of gussied-up Confederate

apologia, if you ask me. Gussied-up racism, too. The people who try to excuse the past

by sayingthats just how things were back thenare hoping that future generations

will say the same thing about their own unexamined evils. But anyway: the second group of fansin

which I include myselfsee the film as a carefully stylized, side-eyed critique of

the Confederacyas told from the Confederate perspective.

"I don't care what you expect, or what they think. I'm gonna dance and dance!

"Tonight I wouldn't mind dancing with Abe Lincoln himself!"

Now, I think most everyone who investigates this controversy in good faith will agree

that the mere depiction of racism is not what progressive viewers might take issue with.

Its the excusing, or even condoning of racist ideologies that concerns us. As far

as Im concerned, beinggreatdoesn't exonerate the filmbecause stories dont

exist in a vacuum. We need to ask ourselves whether or not Gone with the Wind actually

perpetuates Confederate Lost Cause ideology. Now, regardless of your political beliefswhether

or not you think the Confederate flag should still fly over thewait! Stop. This isnt

the Confederate flag. This is the Confederate Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

This is the actual Confederate flag. Or at least it wasuntil it was replaced by the

so-calledStainless Bannerin 1863then theBloodstained Bannerin 1865.

Anyway, point is: whether or not you think that some vexillic representation of the Confederacy

should still fly proudly over the porches, pick-ups, and pelvises of the American South,

we should all still be able to come to an agreement on this one question: does Gone

with the Wind glorify what it depicts? Its a tricky question, because glorification is

often in the eye of the beholder, but I still think we can draw some defensible conclusions

by focusing on four specific aspects of the discourse: what the film makes explicit, what

the film implies through coding, what we know of the author's intentions, and what impressions

the audience might take away from any given viewing. So let's dive in. The first thing

I want to look at is the history of the Confederacy as presented in the film. We already know

what the history wasthats what the last video was forbut what does the film have

to say about it? Lets take a look at this scene, from early in the film: Scarlett is

sneaking around Twelve Oakes, trying to find Ashley Wilkes so she can confess her love

to him before he has a chance to announce his engagement to Melanie Hamilton. Her search

takes her to within earshot of the smoking room, where all the men are busy talking about

the impending Civil War. "It's time we made them understand we keep our slaves with or

without their approval. T'was the sovereign right of the state of Georgia to secede from

the Union!" "That's right." So this is Scarlett's father talking here, and it's the very first

thing we hear in the scene. This would seem to imply that slavery was the main impetus

for secession. Not something most Confederate apologists would open with. Ashley Wilkes

then expresses his hope that the Union will let the South secede in peace. "If Georgia

fights, I go with her. But like my father I hope that the Yankees will let us leave

the Union in peace." As I said in the previous video, this is certainly something that plenty

of Southerners were hoping forto secede in peace. But rather than all the characters

simply agreeing with Ashley, weve got some hot-head responding like this: "But Ashley!

They've insulted us! You can't mean you don't want war!" As if the war was a foregone conclusion

simply because of the Norths negative opinion of secession. Now, this particular viewthat

the South was gonna declare war simply because they felt slightedis not something Ive

ever read in any historical record, but the fact that the film is presenting the Confederates

as these impulsive aggressors is worthy of note. After that exchange, another young buck

takes it as a personal offense that Rhett would even imply that the South wasnt assured

victory over the North. “Are you hinting, Mr. Butler, that the Yankees can lick us?”

No, I'm not hinting. I'm saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than

we. They've got factories, shipyards, coalmines, and a fleet to bottle up our harbors and starve

us to death. All we've got is cotton, and slaves and... arrogance.” So what do we

have here? We have a scene that suggests the root cause of secession was indeed slavery,

and that the South was made up of short-sighted warhawks itching to start a war they were

too arrogant to realize they were never gonna win. Which refutes several major bullet-points

of Confederate Lost Cause ideology. But what about slavery? Doesnt Gone with the Wind

depict slavery as like this perfectly amenable, happy-go-lucky institution that really wasnt

that bad for the countryor even for black people? "Quitting time!" "Who says it's quitting

time?" "I said it's quitting time." "I's the foreman. I's the one says when it's quitting

time at Tara. Quitting time!" Yeah. Pretty much. All throughout the film, we never see

slaves enduring conditions any worse than that of butlers, farmers, maidsor extremely

incompetent midwives. Nobody gets whipped, nobody gets bought or sold, families arent

broken up, nobodys brutalized or murderedand, of course, theres only one single attempt

at interrogating the morality of slavery itselfand it ends with Ashley Wilkes suggesting

its ok to keep slaves so long as you dont treat them poorly. "Scarlett, I will not make

money out of the enforced labor and misery of others!" "You weren't so particular about

owning slaves." "That was different. We didn't treat them that way." No doubt plenty of slave-ownershell,

Ive heard members of my own family say that sure, slavery was bad, yeah, but lots

of slave-owners treated their slaveslike family,” taught them to read and writeto

become ministers! Anything but free them, right? Yeah... Ive never been super-clear

on what sorta point the Confederate apologists are trying to make here when they argue that

slavery-abuses may have indeed presented on a spectrum. Like, seriouslywhats your

point? I encourage you all to explain yourselves in the comments. Because it sounds to me like

youre saying slavery isnt worth condemning so long as it was done out of some paternalistic

sense of evangelism-for-profit. So lets cut to the chase: if I thought Gone with the

Wind were actually endorsing this position, I wouldnt be able to watch it. Without

question. Itd be slavery apologia of the most unambiguous kind. But I honestly dont

think the film is trying to endorse this position, and whats more: I think the filmmakers

might actually want us to know that. The key factor is in who they gave the line to. If

Melanie Hamilton or Rhett Butler had said it, Id consider it a tacit authorial endorsement,

since Melanie & Rhett are really the closest things we get to any sort of moral arbiter

in the film. Rhett may not always do goodin fact, he might rarely do good: "I'll smash

your skull between them like a walnut!" But hes one of the only characters whose moral

compass always points north. He may not always abide by itbut at least he knows the heading.

But Ashley? Despite that hypnotic Transatlantic-by-way-of-Georgia accent, and those curly blond locks that never

seem to fall out of place, Ashley Wilkes is not presented in the film as the great arbiter

of truth & morality. On the contrary: hes an obsequious, self-delusional, and chronically

hypocritical fuckboy. [“Fuqboiby Hey Violet] "Oh, Scarlett, if you knew what I've

gone through!" Even when the film gives him the benefit of soft, glowing lighting, and

a swelling musical score, its usually only during his more ludicrous moments, like when

he points out that Melanie Hamilton being his first cousin is actually a selling point

for marriage: “Shes like me, Scarlett. She's part of my blood, we understand each

other.” He does occasionally dole out sage advice on the horrors of war: “Most of the

miseries of the world were caused by wars. And when the wars were over, no one ever knew

what they were about.” But even these moments arent in service of advancing Confederate

Apologetics. On the contrary: this quote would seem to suggest the pointlessness of the entire

Cause. Now, I know some people disagree with this interpretation. They think that Ashley

is supposed to be this tragic, upstanding gentleman of the South. But I always saw Ashley

as the living embodiment of self-delusionalSouthern Gentlemanhypocrisy. And I

dont think thats just me reading into the textI think hes specifically coded

that way. "Dreams, always dreams with you! Never common-sense!" "Oh, Scarlett, if you

knew what I've gone through!" But perhaps we should talk more about what coding is.

Because thats not the onlycodingthat I see in the film. Coding is when a text

makes certain editorial statements about its own content without necessarily making those

statements explicitly. Like when all the men in the smoking room are saying they cant

wait to go to war while the most sympathetic character in the sceneand the only character

with even an ounce of self-awarenessis in the corner chuckling to himself about the

foolishness of it all. See, for every pro-Confederate statement made by someone in this film, theres

like a call & responsea suspicious side-eyeing that actively questions the merits of the

Confederacy. "Now get back to work. I can't do everything in Tara all by myself!" "What

do I care about Tara? I hate Tara!" These editorializations tend to ease up after the

first several reels, but only because were supposed to have gotten the point by then.

Rhett Butler is a big part of that. Hes easily the most self-aware character in the

film, and that self-consciousness is put to good use by him giving a running commentary

on the political & moral ramifications of nearly every scene hes in. "And you, Mrs.

Hamilton. I know just how much that means to you!” Sometimes its downright meta:

"You should've made your presence known!" “In the middle of that beautiful love-scene?”

And Rhett, notably, doesnt have a high opinion of the Confederacy. “Are you trying

to tell me you dont believe in the Cause?” “I believe in Rhett Butler. He's the only

cause I know!" He does eventually join the fight, but only at the end of the war, and

only after hes certain theyre going to lose. “Maybe its because I've always

had a weakness for lost causes, once theyre really lost.” And even then, he cant

help but note the foolishness of his own behavior: “I'll never understand or forgive myself.

And if a bullet gets me, so help me Ill laugh at myself for being an idiot.” None

of this makes Rhett a good man, mind you. "I'll smash your skull between them like a

walnut!" But hed be the first person to agree with that. "I am neither noble nor heroic."

That doesnt make him any less morally compromised, but it makes him invaluable for the purposes

of editorial coding. See, a lot of people dismiss Gone with the Wind because it looks

just like so much Confederate propaganda to them. Just look at those sweeping vistas!

That rousing score! Read the opening text crawl, for Gods sake! But thats the

point. See, this flowery pro-slavery prose doesnt sound like something Rhett would

sayor even Ashley or Scarlett. This sounds like all those hotheads that the film will

be making fun of in twenty minutes. In its opening act, Gone with the Wind deliberately

replicates the look & feel of Confederate propagandabecause it is, after all, a story

told from the perspective of the Southbut only in such an exaggerated fashion that the

audience is clued into the fact that the perspectives they're about to see are irrevocably biased.

And then it spends the next several reels letting Rhett Butler tear those perspectives

to pieces. I know this might sound like Im reading too much into this. Interpreting the

tea-leaves as I see fit. But I dont think I am. This is all recognizable film language

here, and whats moreIve seen the exact same techniques used in other films

that are unequivocally opposed to the ideologies of their main characters. And if youre

having trouble picturing what that might look like, allow me to direct your attention to

a film I bet you never thought would pop up in a video about Gone with the Wind. "Young

people from all over the globe are joining up to fight for the future." "I'm doing my

part!" "I'm doing my part!" "I'm doing my part!" "I'm doing my part, too!" Now, Ill

be the first to admit that Starship Troopers is a very pointed satire in a way that Gone

with the Wind clearly isnt. But if you start with the desire to tell a story from

the perspective of slavers & fascists... "I'm from Buenos Aires, and I say kill 'em all!"

...and you dont want to show any support for their ideologies, but you also dont

want to turn your film into a sermonizing after-school-special, you might construct

a film very similar to either of these two, in which almost every character is a short-sighted,

self-interested jingoist with nary an ounce of self-awareness. "Force, my friends, is

violence. The supreme authority from which all other authority is derived." And that

any sentiment expressed by the characters in support of totalitarianism, or armed rebellion

in the name of slavery, is done with this sort of winking irony: "Don't talk about Carmen

that way!" "Johnny!" "How dare you! You aren't fit to wipe his boots!" "And you were going

to hate him for the rest of your life!" Even their trumpeting fanfares are similarly aggrandizing!

But wait! Just hang on a minute. Couldnt someone still make the argument that Gone

with the Wind is a pro-Confederate film, but only with just enough muted side-eyeing to

give touchy-feely Leftists enough plausible deniability to claim otherwise? I mean, at

the end of the day, can you really get any more reverential than this? Oh, you sweet,

summer child. May I present, for your viewing displeasure: Gods and Generals. "And I hope

by your future deeds and bearing and you will be handed down to posterity. As the 1st Brigade,

in this, our Second War of Independence!" For those who dont know, Gods and Generals

is a three-and-a-half hour Civil War battle reenactment intercut with footage of Generals

Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson pontificating about all the numerous glories of the Confederacy.

Thats something these Yankess do not understand, will never understand!" You'd

think it was made in 1903, not 2003. “Just as we would not send any of our soldiers to

march in other states and tyrannize other people... so will we never allow the armies

of others to march into our state, and tyrannize our people.” I literally dont have enough

time to play all the clips that attempt to exonerate the Confederacy here. “Dont

they know were fighting for our independence?!” It makes Gone with the Wind look like Young

Mr. Lincoln. [“I never thought Id live to see the day when a President of the United

States would raise an army to invade his own country!” Now, Gone with the Wind is similarly

chock-full of characters who stan the Confederacy and want to cancel the Union, but theres

one crucial difference: the characters in Gone with the Wind are presented asprotagonists,”

whereas the characters in Gods and Generals are presented asheroes.” Where Scarlett

OHara is a conniving cutthroat bent on personal gain, whose ruthless methods of self-preservation

raise eyebrows all throughout the film, Stonewall Jackson is presented as a transcendently pious

man with nary a single human flaw: "Amen!" Hey, you wanna know how Stonewall Jackson

died? He got shot by his own troops while taking an unannounced night-ride through no-mans-land.

In hindsightseems almost fitting. “God has fixed the time for my death; I do not

concern myself with that.” Every time some kid has to decide whether hes going to

fight for the North or the South, he screws his courage to the sticking place and chooses

his beloved home-state as the music swells in the most painfully unironic way. "Colonel

Jackson, sir. Father. I am a soldier in the 4th Virginia." Thats one of the ways you

can tell how one-sided the films politics are: theres never any counter-argument

for anything the Confederates say or do. Just these dumb reaction-shots every time Robert

E. Lee says something sagacious into the middle distance. “He's lost his left armI have

lost my right.” Wait, I take that back. There is one scene where Union officer Joshua

Chamberlain gives a sermonizing speech about the evils of slavery. "I will admit it, Tom,

war is a scourge, but so is slavery." But it feels so bolted-on and out-of-place within

the context of the rest of the film that it actually made me wonder if it was perhaps

included as a way to try and mock the Union. As if the filmmakers were sayingLook at

these moralizing Yankees! Worried about the slaveswhen we all know the South was set

to free them all, anyway!” As far as this film is concerned, nobody was in favor of

slavery during the Civil War. Theres even a scene where Stonewall Jacksonwho owned

slaves, mind youpractically prays for the swift end of slavery and then tells his free

black cook that the higher-ups within the Confederacy are hoping to grant freedom to

any slave who fights for the Southern Cause.“Your people will be freeone way or t'other.

Only question is whether the Southern government will have the good sense to do it first, and

soon!" Just one problem: that never actually happened. Not even close. It was only ever

floated as a trial-balloon in the last few desperate months of the war. To say nothing

of the fact that offering freedom from bondage as a reward for enlistmentas a reward for

anything, for that matteris still morally reprehensible. Likewe all know if Aladdin

were really such a great guy, he wouldve freed Genie with his first wish, not his last!

"Now, is that an official wish? Say the magic words!" "Genie, I wish for your freedom."

"All riiight! Yo yo yo yo!" But Im not willing to leave it at that. Why doesnt

this film just condemn slavery outright? Why doesnt it show slavery for the evil that

it is? Well, this is where authorial intent finally comes into play. Producer David O.

Selznick is probably the closest well ever get to an actualauthorof this film.

Gone with the Wind had three different directors working on it, three cinematographers, and

no less than six different writers. But each and every one of them reported to Selznick.

He was the one who shepherded the project from the initial acquisition of the rights

to the final premiere. By all accounts, Selznick was a progressive liberal who wanted to make

a film that was sympathetic to African-Americanswriting in one studio memo.... See, Selznick was worried

about a repeat of 1915when the release of Birth of a Nation almost single-handedly

revived interest in the Ku Klux Klan, which had laid largely dormant for the previous

four decades. Selznick is responsible for excising any mention of the Klan from the

script. In this scene, where a Union officer shows up trying to find Rhett Butler and a

bunch of men who may have been involved in a recent killing, Melanie says theyre at

apolitical meeting.” “Search if you like, but Mr. Wilkes is at a political meeting

at Mr. Kennedy's store. "He's not at the store, and there's no meeting tonight! No "political"

meeting. In the original novel, their cover was a KKK rally. In studio memos, Selznick

says he made the edit not to try and sanitize the history of the South, but because he felt

it would be too much of a narrative burden for the film to make the characters Klan-members

and then have to explain to the audience that the filmmakers werent actually endorsing

the Klan. And if youre wondering why he didnt have the same concerns about presenting

the characters as slavers, I suspect its because slavery was both illegal and universally

condemned by society at large in 1939, whereas the Klan was decidedly not. For the most part,

Selznick seems to have been more concerned with humanizing the black characters in Gone

with the Wind than he was with condemning slavery. The novel contains some rather notorious

passages that describe Mammy as awhereas Hattie McDaniels characterization is decidedly

warm, witty, and empathic. Mammy is, in fact, the only main character, besides Rhett, who

explicitly condemns much of Scarletts behavior. "You know what trouble I's talking about!

I's talking about Mr. Ashley Wilkes! He'll be coming to Atlanta when he gets his leave,

and you sitting there waiting for him just like a spider!” But not everyone agreed

that Selznick succeeded in making the black characters sympathetic. Critics immediately

pointed out that Mammy and the rest of Scarletts slaves never seem to resent being held in

bondage. Critic & dramatist Carlton Moss even invoked Birth of a Nation in his review of

the film, saying that while Birth of a Nation was a "frontal attack on American history,"

Gone with the Wind was a "rear attack on the same.” He called the film a "nostalgic plea

for sympathy for a still-living cause of Southern reaction." Picketers at the premiere marched

with signs that readYoud be sweet, too, under a whip!” To say nothing of the

fact that Selznick also caved to racist regional pressuresallowing the premiere to proceed

at the Loews Grand Theater in Atlanta, even though it refused to seat black people,

because he didnt want to offendthe very delicate Southern attitude toward segregation."

It seems that for every step forward that Selznick took, there was a corresponding step

sideways. Selznick lead the push to get Hattie McDaniel an Oscar, but even as wonderful as

that recognition was, it didnt prevent McDaniel from being typecast asthe maid

for the rest of her career. I couldn't even name another film from Hattie McDaniel's filmography

until I looked it up. And Butterfly McQueen was basically forced to retire after she refused

to play any more roles that she found demeaning to black people. "I didn't want to be in any

and everything. I wanted to be in quality things." My take on Selznick is that he seems

to have meant well, and he certainly moved the needle, but he also acted as if it was

his job to decide what was best for oppressed minority groups, rather than letting oppressed

minority groups decide what was best for themselves. And lots of people were rightfully hoping

for more than just incremental progress with a project as high-profile as this. Curiously

enough, theres still one major aspect of the film that we havent really talked about

yet. I think probably because shes one of the least ambiguous aspects of the film.

Im referring of course to the main characterScarlett OHara. Scarlett exemplifiesepitomizesthe

difference between aheroand aprotagonist.” You wont hear me trying to argue that Scarlett

OHara is agood person.” "Oh, hush up!" Not even Scarlett would argue that. “I'm

afraid now! Im afraid of dying and going to hell!” She certainly has virtues, like

strengthandwillfulness,” but shes not virtuous. On the contraryshes

a brutal & manipulative self-preservationist who doesnt think twice about screwing over

anyone who gets in her way. "Well... she's going to marry one of the county boys next

month. She just got tired of waiting, was afraid she'd be an old maid, and.... Oh, I'm

sorry to be the one to tell you." Who copes with the difficulties of life by literally

shooting first and asking questions later. “Well, I guess I've done murder. I won't

think about that now. Ill think about that tomorrow.” And thats the point. Scarlett

isnt a hero, shes an anti-hero. Nothing she does is meant to be an endorsement of

said-behavior. I think thats one thing the film is exceedingly clear on: "I left

my muff at home. Would you mind if I put my hand in your pocket?" But of course, a character

doesnt need to begoodormoralin order for us to get catharsis out of their

story. Were not supposed to evaluate Scarletts actions from Scarletts perspective. Rhett

& Mammy are the ones who offer all the editorial analysis well ever need. They both want

Scarlett to succeed, but not by any of the methods she actually uses to get ahead. Rhett

admires the virtues he sees in Scarlett, but hes almost literally driven mad waiting

around for her to become a better person. And thats not on Scarlett! Thats on

Rhettfor wanting Scarlett to be the way that he wants her to be, rather than the way

she ever actually was. This, too, is made explicitby none other than Rhett himselfwho

surmises that the whole reason he wanted a daughter with Scarlett so badly was because

he wanted a version of her who would accept the kind of love that he was offering. “She

was so like you. And I could pet her and spoil her as I wanted to spoil you.” And in the

end, when Rhett realizes theyve both missed too many opportunities for self-improvement

Frankly, my Dear, I dont give a damn.” ...he leaves. But before that final moment,

we witness what is perhaps the most incendiary scene in the entire filmwhich actually

has nothing to do with the Confederacy: "I'll smash your skull between them like a walnut!"

So first, a little context. This is late in the film, after Scarlett & Rhett have been

married for several years, with Rhett still holding out hope that Scarlett might finally

drop her torch for Ashley and fall in love with him. But Scarlett rebuffs him, and as

a token of her resolve, she says shes not going to share a bed with him ever again.

"No, but you know what I... do you know what I mean?" "I do." Rhett plays it cool over

the denial of sex, but he cant take the romantic rebuff. "Do you mean to say you don't

care?" "The world is full of many things and many people, and I shan't be lonely. I will

find comfort elsewhere." "Well, that's fine. But I warn you, just in case you change your

mind, I intend to lock my door." "Why bother? "If I wanted to come in, no lock could keep

me out!" Later that night, Rhett gets drunk, re-voices all of his displeasures, threatens

to kill Scarlett with his bare handsand then hauls her up the stairs to rape. "This

is one night you're not turning me down!" An image that the marketing campaign then

co-opted to try and push the film as a swooning romance. The next morning, the film heavily

implies that Scarlett enjoyed the experience. But heres the thing: whether she did or

didnt doesnt determine whether or not it was rape. Lemme say that again. Whether

or not Scarlett enjoyed it has no bearing on whether or not Rhett committed rape. Rhett

had sex with her without her consentafter shed told him she wasnt going to sleep

with him, no less! "Well, I hope I don't have any more children." Rhett committed marital

rape, in no uncertain terms. Now, I, for one, absolutely despise the all-too-common trope

where a man has sex with a woman without her consent, only to have his actions hand-waved

away by the filmmakers by suggesting the woman enjoyed it. "All all nerds as good as you?"

As far as Im concerned, this is the epitomethe quintessenceof rape culture. It teaches

men that the thing to seek isnt consent, but rather post-hoc absolution, which can

apparently take the form of justshowing her a good time.” But where Gone with the

Wind breaks from the trope is in what happens next. "Hello. I, uh. I'd like to extend my

apologies for my conduct of last night." "Oh, but Rhett!" "I was very drunk. And, uh...

quite swept off my feet by your charms." He offers Scarlett a tacit apology, then he offers

Scarlett a divorce. "I've been thinking things over and I really believe that it'd be better

for both of us if we admitted we made a mistake and got a divorce." Which she rejects on the

pretense that it would be too socially humiliating. "Thank you very much, but I wouldn't dream

of disgracing the family with a divorce." Rhett then announces hes leaving for Europe.

"I'm going on a very extended trip, to London." See, my take on this scene is that there was

no way he was gonna stick aroundnot after what hed done. The apology doesnt absolve

Rhett, mind you. I dont think anything does. But whats worthy of note here is

that the film is not rewarding him for his actions. See, a lot of people interpret this

scene as a tacit condoning of marital rape. Or worsethey don't think it depicts a rape

at all. But I, for one, think this film is both depicting a rape in no uncertain terms

and quietly condemning itwhich is only as loud as they could condemn it, given the

restrictions that the Hays Code put on the production. We never see Rhett even momentarily

gratified for his attack, nor does it solidify, strengthen, or repair their marriage. On the

contraryits the final act that leads to its ultimate destruction. "'Scuse me, Mr.

Rhett." Its important, I think, to understand and even empathize with Scarletts motivations.

She was born into a world that asked nothing of her, built on the backs of the oppressed,

who had everything taken away without anyone telling her she had anything to offer except

the ability to marry up. But empathy & sympathy arent the same thing. We can empathize

with Scarlett without wanting to see her succeed. Not like this, anyway. Simply put: Scarlett

isnt a heroine, shes a mess. And I am a card-carrying messy bitch who lives for

drama. Her fate is a tragedy, not a romance. The fact that it's a tragedy of her own making

doesn't make it any less tragic. Shes punished for her hubris, and whats more: she doesnt

even know shes lost by the end of the film. “And I'll think of some way to get him back!

After alltomorrow is another day!” Kinda like the true legacy of the Confederacy, if

you ask me. If Gone with the Wind has agreat sin,” its thatby not explicitly condemning

the Confederacy, it gives plausible deniability to the bigots whod watch it and goYes,

thats my Old Beloved South!” And its because of this omissionwhich people were

pointing out as soon as it premieredthat viewers like me feel compelled to dedicate

enormous amounts of time & energy repudiating the viewers who would seek to use this film

as a showpiece for their racist ideologies. I spent about four months in active production

on this video series, which means I spent a third of a yearalmost 1% of my entire

lifeanalyzing, interpreting, and expounding my views on the filmjust so that I can

put it on my shelf. That's the problem with this film. You dont know what you're condoning

by simply turning it on in public. It is the film's fault that we are still asking this

question even 80 years later. But I dont think thats a problem best solved by banning

Gone with the Wind. I mean as a blanket rule. Ive got no problem with theaters cancelling

local screenings if they cant account for the political leanings of their audiencesespecially

when the theater happens to be located in the state that birthed the KKK. But as one

of my friends put it: Gone with the Wind should definitely still be watchedbut it needs

to be more than just watched. It needs to be discussed. Interpreted. Contextualized.

Which is what I hope Ive done with these videos. But we cant stop here. We need

to finally start making better media about the Civil War. Yesbetter than Gone with

the Wind. Likeyou know whats way cooler than a TV show headlined by two white guys

about what the United States would look like if the South had won the Civil War? How about

a TV show about what the United States would look like if slaves had actually gotten reparations?

If Andrew Johnson hadnt rescinded the 40-acres-and-a-mule promise? If Confederate veterans hadnt

gotten their voting rights restored by a sympathetic Southern president within three years of the

end of the war? If Jim Crow hadnt happened? If Plessy v. Ferguson went the other way?

If the Civil Rights Act were passed in 1864 instead of 1964? If the Southern Strategy

hadnt been a thing? Or maybe if the ruling classes of the United States hadnt deliberately

codified racial hierarchies into the fabric of American life in the wake of Bacons

Rebellion as a way to keep the lower classes in check way back in 1676? Id watch the

shit out of that! And Im just a white boy from Davie. Whats your excuse?

The Description of Should we Still be Watching 'Gone with the Wind?' Part 2