Raybeard wrote a post about the removal of Gone with the Wind from HBO Max. I’m not going to repeat what he wrote. Here’s the link if you would like to read it. I’m not even going to comment on the movie because honestly, I’ve never watched it. Nor have I read the book. I have no interest in them. But it did get me to thinking.
For context: I hit my teens in the late 70s. I grew up in an all-white area in the USA mid-west Bible Belt. I was a typical kid. I drank a little, I smoked occasionally, I had a great group of friends. We “cruised” on Friday and Saturday nights, bowled, played arcade games, and went to the movie theater. Although I considered myself to be the "hippy" of the group, interested in the women's movement and civil rights, I'm not sure my awareness of the wider world came until college. (I'm pretty sure it wasn't until college that I added gay rights to that list, simply because I didn't know.)
Fast forward to 2020. About two and a half months ago we fired up the VHS player and started rewatching some old Dr. Who we had. And then we dug through our collection and continued watching these old movies that we thought were brilliant back in the 80s and 90s. Alien and The Thing and
And two weeks ago, we dug out some teen movies from the 80s. Valley Girl, Sweet Sixteen, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There were
parts I still thought were funny, but oh, my, have they not aged well. Jurassic Park
Would I recommend them to a young person today? Not unless they asked specifically for an example of something problematic. But I think they’re important for that very reason. The things I didn’t notice when I was 20 that jump out at me now show me that I’ve grown, that I’ve paid attention and become a better person. And some movies, like Gone with the Wind, show a snapshot of our history. We need to have that, something tangible that we can judge ourselves on. It’s one thing for me to tell my kids and the young people I work with “this is how it was when I was your age” but it’s another for them to see it, to hopefully learn something about my generation from it. If nothing else, it’s a place to start a discussion.
One thing that surprised me as we’ve been doing our nostalgia viewing—WKRP in
Cincinnati actually held
up pretty well. There are a few episodes that weren’t so great, but it’s
amazing how many issues that were featured on that show are relevant once
again. If anyone doesn’t believe the current administration hasn’t pushed us
back decades, I think the proof is in the viewing!