Reaction to Gone with the Wind

*Posted on behalf of Jamie Adams.  Please address your comments to her.*

When viewing Gone With the Wind several questions came to my mind, but one that really stood out the most is the term escapist.  I have recently come across this term in a previous class and developed an understanding of the word and how it pertained to different groups of people at various times in the past. I have read about Jewish women working in factories in the early 1900’s, Cubans playing baseball in a foreign America during the early nineteenth century, and Elvis Presley and his ‘extracurricular’ medicines; all of these dealt with the term escapism on their own terms in diverse ways. Now, the term presents itself again, but to a different era than the one I connected it to.  Escapist can have multiple meanings across various cultures and times, even to this day.

In the book by Chadwick, The Reel Civil War, he discusses escapism not only for the masses watching Gone With the Wind but also in the movie itself.  Chadwick states that the motion picture industry certainly addressed the Depression in some films, such as the Grapes of Wrath, Dead End, and a string of gangster movies, but it also produced a large number of escapist entertainment stories.*[1]   People flocked to new modes of entertainment to escape the unsympathetic reality of life resulting from the Great Depression. Many people from the South, men and women, were still recovering from the psychological and physical trauma of defeat from the Civil War where they were always skeptical of the government.  Then, the Great Depression engulfed the nation and society’s skepticism grew even more for many in the South.

The movie became an outlet of inspiration and many Southerners, especially females, could relate to Scarlett O’Hara’s ‘escapist’ moment in the movie.  Gone With the Wind was escapist, a finely woven, wonderful soap opera and a rich love story, but it was most importantly a film about the survival of a tough woman trying to keep home and family together in the middle of turmoil.*[2]  Hidden messages of escapism were all through the movie and how different people used them to cope with harsh times but the main escapist message was the even though times were tough in the Great Depression, they still had their families.[3]  Escapism can therefore be on an individual, group, or national level and have multiple meanings depending on what the person(s) is escaping.

I find this very relevant to today since the American economy is in a recession.  Times again are tough on families and we are still in a war, not at home, but still having effects of the home life of many people.  It makes me wonder what people today are using as their escapism?  Is there anything in the entertainment world that is inspirational and good for the morale of the country today, or are we clouded with too much information and is it positive in any way?

 

[1] Chadwick, Bruce. The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film (New York: Knopf, 2001), 224.

[2]  Chadwick, Bruce. The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film (New York: Knopf, 2001), 225.

[3] Chadwick, Bruce. The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film (New York: Knopf, 2001), 226.

What is escapism:  http://ezinearticles.com/?What-is-Escapism?&id=897426

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4 comments
  1. 10ectim said:

    Jamie, I liked your connection with “escapism” and today’s economic struggles and war experience. We still obviously enjoy escapism. The success of movies such as the Avengers this summer can certainly testify to that. The problem with Gone With Wind is that too many people viewed the movie as an accurate historical depiction of the Civil War and Reconstruction. the inaccuracies and the promotion of “The Lost Cause” mentality greatly impacted American society and the advancement of the Civil Rights movement and provided an excuse for southern society to justify and rationalize segregation and the political disenfranchising of African Americans.

  2. jmmblog said:

    Jamie, I enjoyed reading on your topic of escapism and it’s relation with the economy. To answer your question, “Is there anything in the entertainment world that is inspirational and good for the morale of the country today?” I can tell you yes, that here in Pueblo there is! The El Pueblo History Museum (301 N. Union Ave Pueblo,Co 719-583-0453) will be hosting the El Pueblo Ensemble’s “Song of Pueblo” CD Release Party on Fri. June 15, 2012 @ 6pm-9pm. The multi-media concert, “Song of Pueblo,” has been captivating audiences with unforgetable music and images of Pueblo’s unique past since 2008. The original music was composed by renowned playwright and actor, Daniel Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit). It is especially inspirational, in the fact that it shows how Pueblo’s economy was destroyed by the flood of 1921 and has since rebuilt where it was once destroyed. If you can’t make Fridays CD release party, call the museum at 719-583-0453 to find out when the next full perfomance will be.

  3. chrisrivera1985 said:

    Jamie, first I have to say, I really love how you applied the concept of escapism to the movie. I love your your questions, immensely so. I don’t think there is much in current entertainment that is inspiration or good for the moral of the country. Art in general, certainly in the mediums of music and cinema, enjoy placing a great deal of the catharsis in the hands of the observers. Those interpreting a certain work might be inspired to action in someway, but it is so personal in that matter, that the starting point of that action does not transfer universally. We also have to be careful about not distancing ourselves as historians. This era may be looked upon in an entirely different light and our entertainment, it might be said, our entertainment had a profound impact on the general moral of the country. But let us be no stoics, as Shakespeare said. Our version of entertainment is very convoluted and incited by characters immersed in ‘reality’, and seem less picturesque than those depicted in GWTW. I doubt we will know for a while what truly inspired us in entertainment, perhaps sixty years down the road like those that watched GWTW. I certainly don’t believe modern entertainment is inspirational.

  4. Great post Jamie. But I have to wonder-was this film a way to help Southerners escape the negative repercussion and justify their actions following the war? Or was it intended to help Americans escape the realities of the 1930s with the presentation of an issue that had longed plagued the country? Either way the film was quite entertaining then as it is now and without a doubt it still applies to the concept of escapism. Hell, for a moment there I forgot that I was in a classroom so I guess you can say that I too escaped from reality while watching the film. I do however disagree with Chris that modern entertainment is not inspirational. I recently viewed a movie titled “The Perfect Game” and I must admit that the film was quite inspirational in that it focused on the achievements that can be made through hard work and desirable attitudes.

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