As we’ve stated many time before in Forgotten Hits, we have always tried to do our very best to steer clear of controversial topics regarding things that may be going on around us, preferring instead to concentrate on the music, which we have always viewed as an escape for ALL of us from the horrors of all that surrounds us these days.
Maybe it’s just the combination of now living in a mask-wearing society … a world I never even dreamed we’d see or be forced to live in, watching hundreds of thousands of people dying from a pandemic that we still have no viable cure for (while we allow people to resume life almost as if none of this was actually happening, knowing full well that the death toll is only going to escalate in the weeks and months to come) … along with all of the racial tension surrounding us of late … combined with the on-going craziness of day-to-day life, even under the best of circumstances, that compels me to say a few words today.
Bear with me for just a few moments … (or don’t … let’s face it, you can stop reading this right now!) … as I get a few things off my chest.
I’ll kick things off with something that’s at least a LITTLE bit music-oriented …
Big news this past week as the Estate of Tom Petty issued a “cease and desist” order against President Trump for using Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” during a recent campaign event.
But this is hardly news when it comes to The President attaching himself to songs by artists who don’t necessarily offer their support to his re-election campaign. (In fact, most of these artists have issued injunctions along with statements quite to the contrary, stating that they don’t want it so much as IMPLIED that they support The President’s campaign. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith has already had to do this a couple of times now!!!)
Ultimate Classic Rock lists some of the well-documented issues of the past …
And, while we’re waxing politically for a minute or six, was anybody else out there shocked (and more than just a little disturbed) by the announcement that “Gone With The Wind” was being pulled from broadcasting libraries due to its negative racial overtones? (The film was made in 1939 for God’s sake … and became an instant theatrical classic … but NOW we’re going to re-evaluate its values???)
In all fairness, this decision has since been reversed, allowing the film to be shown again on HBO Max and TCM, as long as it is preceded with a four-and-a-half minute disclaimer explaining that the film “was not universally praised” when it was first released and includes problematic themes, painting “the picture of the antebellum South as a ‘romantic, idyllic setting that’s tragically been lost to the past.’”
The new narrative, hosted by Jacqueline Stewart of TCM’s “Silent Sunday Nights” and a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, kicks off the new four-and-a-half minute intro with a quick cinematic history lesson, explaining that the film won eight Academy Awards (including “Best Picture”) in 1939. She describes it as being, at the time, the “highly anticipated” adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel … and explains that with inflation-adjusted mathematics applied, it remains the highest grossing movie of all time.
Stewart goes on to explain that Producer David O. Selznick had to assure the NAACP at the time of the film’s release that he was “sensitive to the feelings of minority peoples,” but went on to deliver a film that depicts a “world of grace and beauty, without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based.” Stewart says that “the treatment of this world through the lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery as well its legacies of racial inequality.” She goes on to concede that while watching “Gone With The Wind” can be "uncomfortable ... and even painful" ... “it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form” to “invite viewers to reflect on their own beliefs when watching them now."
“’Gone With The Wind,’ with its landmark production values, signature scenes and iconic characters, has shaped the way generations have pictured slavery and the reconstruction period that followed,” she says in conclusion. “It is not only a major document of Hollywood’s racist practices of the past, but also an enduring work of popular culture that speaks directly to the racial inequalities that persist in media and society today.”
It has been deemed a cinematic classic for over eighty years, depicting a time and place and lifestyle that existed at one time here in America … and seems to me to be another example of overreacting to a situation by TRYING to put forth a better front. (Does it make more sense to show nightly rioting on TV? Is THAT the image we’d rather portray as our “Proud To Be An American” moment?)
Frannie suggested that they must be banning “Schindler’s List,” too then, right … as our new means of pretending that these things never really happened? She describes "Schindler's List" as being the single most disturbing film she’s ever seen in her life ... but also credits it as being the one that had both the strongest and longest-lasting impact. That being said, she refuses to ever watch it again, saying that she’s already suffered thru the experience of seeing it and doesn’t ever need to relive it.
Now I’ve personally never seen the film … but, knowing what I know about it, feel that it’s a movie that almost NEEDS to be seen to drive the point home. It's unthinkable to me that such a world ever really existed ... and yet it did. (I’ve just chosen not to sit thru it as I prefer to use movies as a chance to “escape from reality” of all else that is already wrong with the world today. I go there to enjoy the opportunity to sit for a couple of hours to take my mind OFF of all the bad that’s going on around us … I want to be entertained ... except that now going the movies again will only help to act as a constant reminder of the pandemic that now forces us to sit several seats away from the next viewer.)
And, truth be told, I’ve never actually seen all of “Gone With The Wind” either … it’s just not my type of film ... nor is it the kind of movie that ever would have appealed to me. (Frankly, Forgotten Hits Readers, I just don't give a damn!!!)
In fact, the only reason I’ve ever seen ANY of it at all is to catch Superman George Reeves there at the beginning with red hair! Once that early scene featuring The Supe is over, I’m done. It just amazes me when I think about the kind of acting career Reeves COULD have had … yet, in all actuality, he’s probably FAR more famous for the role he’s best known for … but I digress.) Let's just say that for ME, it ain't no "Wizard Of Oz"!!!
The whole thing going on right now reminds me of those book-burning campaigns from many moons ago when the powers that be decided that they were going to edit the content of what the rest of us could and couldn’t be exposed to. At the time, even the Mark Twain classics “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn,” long-standing mandatory grade school reading, were not safe from extinction. (Don’t get me wrong … I’m certainly not condoning the depicting of an era when slavery existed … but it DID exist … and there’s just no way around ... even by pretending today that it didn’t!!! And let’s face it … we have done very little lately as a society to indicate that we’ve advanced any farther in this mentality with the actions of many in the past few weeks.)
“Gone With The Wind” is a classic … it deserves to be seen as it was made ... leaving the decision up to the viewer as to whether or not to see it.
(My God, what’s next … banning “Blazing Saddles”?!?!?! Talk about a film that couldn’t be made today!!!) kk