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Sunday, March 12, 2023

Slavery and GWTW

 At The Ankler, historian David Vincent Kimel writes about deleted scenes in the script of GoneWith the Wind.

Remarkably, much of the excised material in my Rainbow Script was a harsh portrayal of the mistreatment of the enslaved workers on Scarlett's plantation, including references to beatings, threats to throw “Mammy” out of the plantation for not working hard enough, and other depictions of physical and emotional violence. Had these scenes remained in the final film, they would have stood in startling juxtaposition to the pageantry on display at the premiere in Atlanta. At the time of production, GWTW’s romanticization of slavery led African American thinkers like Ben Davis to call it “dangerous poison covered with sugar.” William L. Patterson went even further, describing it as “a weapon of terror against black America.” These voices were in the critical minority in the twentieth century, but over time, scholars have increasingly emphasized GWTW’s promulgation of the mythology of the Lost Cause, an interpretation of the Civil War that romanticizes the struggle as a war of Northern aggression that desecrated Southern honor and culture.

The article starts with a remarkable revelation about MLK

At the Atlanta premiere of Gone With the Wind on December 15, 1939, the 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. was dressed as a slave. It was the second night of an official three-day holiday proclaimed by the mayor of Atlanta and the governor of Georgia. King’s choir was serenading a white audience, directed to croon spirituals to evoke an ambiance of moonlight and magnolias for the benefit of the movie’s famous producer, David O. Selznick.