In Spain there is a rejection of someone making you change your mind. The war this week, once we have left the happy 8-M in the chassis, has been the supposed prohibition of gone With the Wind. The supposed prohibition filled the radio for very minutes and injected fury in the columns. It seems, by insistence, that it was in our hands to save Western civilization. That fury, however, was not in the column he wrote in LA Times John Ridley, the screenwriter of 12 years of slavery. Ridley only asked the HBO platform that, since he was going to broadcast a film that falsifies American history, turning the war into a romantic episode of legendary gentlemen and ladies, of white ladies who are taken away what is theirs (the possession of human beings), at least you’ll find a way to shed some light on this tricky romanticism. The film in question begins with a quote from Walter Scott, who, according to Mark Twain, contributed significantly to the idealization of the pre-war era. Twain said that the South would not recover from the stupid romanticism that Scott’s novels emanated until other writers were free from his influence.
HBO responded to Ridley’s article by announcing that the film would be preceded by a poster of those that warn us of things that can hurt our sensibilities. But we, already muddy, threw ourselves into the mud as a group in our heroic defense of freedom, raising our fists like Scarlet, ignoring that the film is in El Corte Inglés and on TV every so often. This fiery defense of freedom contains a singular paradox: that of not tolerating a critical attitude to the enormous propaganda message that educated us, because my generation was formed with American cinema: Indians and blacks were, in our childhood imagination, just like they were shown to us by white films. In fact, when we were children we thought that slave girls spoke in that ridiculous way they were played by voice actresses: “Miss Scarlet, Miss Scarlet.” We have all recited the insufferable tune. The blacks of the cinema were the first blacks of our life: they were clumsy, satisfied with their humiliated life, unable to manage their freedom, buffoons of the gentlemen. There are documentaries that analyze the way the apartheid Hollywood has annulled and humiliated black Americans, and interest has been sparked in large museums in the way advertising and graphic arts portrayed African Americans. Sometimes it is a direct reflection of what the country was like and other times a crucial influence on the collective mindset. So it was, for example, in The birth of a nation (1915) by Griffith, the founding film of the seventh art. It would be unthinkable to speak of the innovations of that film, of its visual daring, and not to mention the decisive influence it had on the Ku Klux Klan lynchings. But there is a disturbing refusal to expand the information about what we see, to take on another look that contradicts what we saw as children. It is like a resistance to the story being changed.
What is happening in the United States reveals the validity of a deep wound in a country that has used the language of cinema to turn what was a nightmare into a dream. The documentary Amendment XIII (Netflix), by the African-American Ava DuVernay, tells through testimonies of activists, victims and politicians how this amendment allowed, after the abolition of slavery, to continue exploiting black labor. It was enough to criminalize them and thus deny them their status as full citizens. So to Nixon, so to that Democrat, Clinton, who was particularly cruel about jail time. They say that blacks have joined the culture war, the identity roll. Culture war! That is really offensive, because one out of every three black boys will go to jail at some point in their life.