MORNING UPDATE – in thinking more on this, I think I’ll go with Ralph Waldo Emerson:
I am offended!
FavD has been watching the Turner Classic Movies channel all this rainy day. It’s an Oscar marathon of winners, and before Gone With the Wind started, they interviewed black historians about black actress Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) winning the 1939 best supporting actress. How Olivia de Havilland felt robbed but was told to suck it up, that it was McDaniel’s one chance and America should have this race history moment.
Then the overture started, and we fondly threw the syrupy, dated lines of dialogue back and forth until I wandered off to play chess with the boy. I could still hear the movie even though I wasn’t really listening, the movie I know so well that if ever in solitary confinement, I’d likely choose GWTW to replay scene by scene in vivid and excruciating detail in my mind, to keep from going insane.But suddenly a disturbing note, something was wrong.
“Miss Scarlett, we’s not fiel’ hands, we’s house — workers.”
It was dubbed in so perfectly that when I howled in indignation, Fav D was confused. Was I really sure the N word had ever been in the soundtrack, she wondered, unable to recall for herself from viewing of the DVD some years ago. Ted Turner’s self-righteous cultural redub was already working pretty well on her it seems, she didn’t notice the change herself and confronted with it, just didn’t want to believe it.
Now granted, there’s not much about the whole film or the book it’s based on that isn’t offensive, one way or another. You couldn’t possibly make it or stand to watch it, in today’s contexts. So it has its own cultural context, correct within its uniquely authentic history as book and movie.
Mess with that, Ted, and you force me to question how that is respectful of the product for which McDaniel won her history-making Oscar in the first place, and of everyone involved in its creation, much less of the generations who have known and loved it so well since then — it feels like you are messing with MY history, my personal experience of Gone With the Wind, never mind being disrespectful of real history, like the helpful and sensitive folk who sanitize Huck Finn’s times by altering the name of a major character, as if those times were just too uncomfortable to be represented authentically in our literature.
It adds up to cognitive dissonance. If Ted Turner as a liberal billionaire making money with classic movies, can redub individual words in classic movies with a clear conscience and no warning to viewers, what does it all mean, about the left, the right, and the wrong? And about media sensitivity versus censorship and faceless money-driven (amoral if not immoral) corporate decisions and artistic license and all of that. Is our culture even authentic or is it just sold to us?
Unschooling Lesson of the Day in my house — trying to understand how misguided liberalism can be as offensive and just as mis-educational, as misguided conservatism . . .