Grant Mitchell

Alright, let me just get this out of the way. 1939’s “Gone with the Wind,” is a very problematic film in terms of its political correctness and general view on history. Slavery is glorified and portrayed as an idyllic and friendly relationship between enslaved Blacks and aristocratic Whites when it is actually the greatest blemish and evil this country has committed.

Not to mention, the film’s portrayal of the Confederacy as a noble cause is repugnant because of the evils it sought to protect in slavery.

However, if you can get past those smoothed-over horrors of our history and deifying of southern charm and agricultural plenty, then this is a pretty interesting film.

1939’s “Gone with the Wind” is based off of the hit novel of the same name that came out three years prior.

In essence, “Gone with the Wind” is a time machine that warps you back to an age of mint juleps and gentlemen entertaining their court on expansive estates planted in the most lush and beautiful lands of the United States.

However, there is also a weird duality to all of the pomp and splendor we see in “Gone with the Wind.”

Everything you see on screen, the buildings, the carriages and the immense wealth and pageantry are all built off the backs of enslaved people.

When you watch “Gone with the Wind,” you can get caught up in the sprawling tale of southern wealth and the illustrious nature of the period.

The style of dress is immaculate and fanciful, the horse drawn carriages look like they jumped out of the pages of a Disney film and some prince or princess is about to emerge.

Is it Cinderella? No, it’s Scarlett O’Hara.

She is a wicked and definitely spoiled woman, as she is always plotting a way to get what she sees as rightfully hers. However, it isn’t her fault, as the film wants us to feel, Scarlett is simply a product of her time.

That’s where a lot of the southern grandeur, beauty and fictitious nobleness fades away.

All of the faults of the South and the period loom over the film like an occupying force.

In the three-and-a-half-hour film, you can watch “Gone with the Wind” be totally mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape and the immersive and sprawling nature of the story and its characters, until you see just how much is wrong with everything.

The South that is portrayed in “Gone with the Wind” actually never really existed.

“Gone with the Wind” provides us with the fairy tale of a land of plenty where everyone lived in harmony, enslaved folks and the wealthy whites prospered together. That is … until the evil Yankees decided to come down and mess everything up.

I remember when I first moved to the South with my family. I was three and a half years old and coming from Baltimore, Maryland.

I remember my parents talking about the culture shock that they received coming here. Leering questions of “you aren’t from here are y’all,” and other polite, but probing, questions asked to imply that you are an outsider were common. Also not to mention the racist sentiments still preserved here.

When my mom and I visited an antique shop in Sweetwater, we were greeted by memorabilia from segregation era such as water fountain labels which said “Whites Only” and “Blacks Only” on them.

The label was jarring.

I think if you comparatively look at “Gone with the Wind” you will find a lot of commonalities with today.

Like that shop my mom and I visited, the surface looks pleasant and rosy but beneath the veneer, a darker and more sinister history lurks below. That history that is still praised and worshiped by some, always ignores the egregious transgressions of its past — memorializing them not as atrocities, but as lost ways of life.

Grant Mitchell is a senior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content