General Question

rockfan's avatar

Do you think Gone With the Wind is outwardly racist?

Asked by rockfan (14627points) September 28th, 2023 from iPhone

I recently watched Gone with the Wind for the first time and for years I’ve known how problematic and offensive it is, so I thought I knew what to expect. But I didn’t expect it to be so outwardly racist. So many people criticize the film for the racial stereotypes of Mammy and Prissy, yet I think those are least of the films problems…

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25 Answers

janbb's avatar

Yessum! Just watched it recently and had to leave the theater halfway through.

ragingloli's avatar

No idea, I never watched it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

It was a product of its time, and it was written as fiction, not as a historical treatise.

GWTW wasn’t written (or filmed) in 2023, with all of the various sensitivities and consciousness of racism and racial justice that we have now.

The book was written in 1936 and filmed in 1939, which was well before any of the civil rights, desegregation, and other movements that started to take place in the 1950s and 1960s. That was only 75 years after the end of the Civil War and and Reconstruction.

So by today’s yardstick, it’s racist. But when it was written, it reflected the then-contemporary fictional view of history that had happened 75 years earlier.

Margaret Mitchell wrote it as a story, not as a racist screed.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Is that the show were the husband rapes his wife in the end? I didn’t watch the whole thing.

janbb's avatar

@elbanditoroso Oh c’mon. It was written as a story to glorify the “lost cause” of the wonderful white plantation belles and beaus who held sway over the smiling darkies. If people back then didn’t know what racism was, how can you explain abolitionists and the Federal attempts during Reconstruction to help the Blacks get a leg up?

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh yeah. I watched it once and never needed to do so again.

Forever_Free's avatar

Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

rockfan's avatar


I think the movie was racist even for it’s time. Most people in the 1930’s weren’t defending slavery. At most, the racial stereotypes were normal for the time.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I feel that life in general was outwardly racist at the time & the movie was considered tame to those who watched it. The outrage came at the end when Clark Gable uttered the words “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Damn was the most profane word that had been used in a movie up until that point!!! Movie goers weren’t watching for the racism, but for the naughtiness of the cursing. I heard more than once that NO self-respecting woman would go to see that filth. It’s been a very long time since I watched it & I don’t remember being outraged…mostly bored. It was a long ass movie without much action & I didn’t care for the love story as it was presented!!! However, I did enjoy the ending when he told her to basically eff off…well earned!!!

filmfann's avatar

It wasn’t representative of how things were. It was revisionist, and wildly inaccurate.
If you can get past that, it’s a good film. Unlike Song Of The South, it is still well regarded, which is unfair.
The plantation scenes from Django Unchained are more historically accurate, but no one cares.

JLeslie's avatar

Hard to watch it. I find it boring and I don’t understand how people love it. Of course there is racism in it. It would be difficult to produce a movie about the South during that time in history without racism.

gondwanalon's avatar

It’s a movie about the war to end slavery that includes slave owners. Owning a slave is a good indicator of a racist mentality. You can say that the movie is about racism. But the movie isn’t racist in that it is not intended to propagate racism.

jca2's avatar

It’s definitely a glorified view of the south. Not once do they use the words “slave.” They make it like the slaves were just very jolly and happy to serve, like one big happy family.

kritiper's avatar

It’s an accurate depiction of life, as it was, in the South during those times.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well…I think it is what it was. Racism wasn’t brought to the white forefont until decades later. We see it differently now, than when it was written. Was it meant to be racist? IMO no. From where we sit now, is it? Jesus Christ yes!

seawulf575's avatar

Wow. Gone With the Wind. You are debating if a book/movie about a plantation in the south just before and during the Civil War and wondering if it is racist by today’s standards? I’d suggest you are too sensitive if this is what you are worrying about. And since you are that sensitive, it wouldn’t really matter to you if someone else sees it not being racist. There are a number of “classics” that could be called racists. Roots could be called racist as it showed slavery in all it’s glory. Blazing Saddles could be called racist because it showed how racist people could be.

If you don’t want to watch the movie, don’t. If you want to, do. If you find it is a good movie, fantastic. If you think it is nothing but a 3.5 hour piece of schlock, that’s cool too. Me? I look at things like these movies with different eyes and my eyes don’t see what you do.

JLeslie's avatar

I thought about Roots too. The Color Purple. There’s of course a long list.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie Movies about race issues aren’t necessarily racist, especially if presented from a Black perspective. Gone With the Wind is racist because it presents a false picture of slavery and plantation life to justify the Southern way of living.

To all: I would suggest those who are opining try watching the film before offering an opinion but I also understand not caring or it not changing your opinion. We don’t need to have a knock down drag out fight about this, it was just a discussion question.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Good point. I was thinking in terms of depicting racism.

seawulf575's avatar

@janbb I’m not sure that is even a fair depiction…that GWTW presents a false picture of slavery and plantation life. Some plantation owners treated slaves better than others. Often the blacks that served in the house were treated better than others. It doesn’t go into all the other horrors of slavery, that is true, but then again, slavery wasn’t the point behind the book. If you remember, the plantation was destroyed by the war. The owners were suddenly destitute and subjected to the horrors of the war along with everyone else. It was a story of the times.

I might say Blazing Saddles was far more racist, but if you look at that movie you see it ridicules basically everyone. Blacks the least of all. It depicts admirably the idea that just because someone is racist, you don’t have to avoid ridiculing them.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Of course it is, which is why it’s still important. Just saying slavery is bad or racism is bad is not enough, we need to see it.
It’s one of my favorite movies for many reasons, none of which include the racism or roles on the plantation.

JLeslie's avatar

When GWTW was written the South was still segregated, so even though slavery was gone, the racist hierarchy was still very much alive and blatant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good Book.

The focus is supposed to be on how one little old Southern girl bucks all of the expected norms for how proper Southern girls are supposed to act. She was resourceful, smart, headstrong and sassy. It was set against the backdrop of slavery and I think it’s fairly depicted.

Also, in the book Rhett never said “Frankly my dear…”

SnipSnip's avatar

No. Context and timing is everything.

filmfann's avatar

GWTW is certainly racist. It’s portrayal of some of the slaves is played for laughs.

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