10 June 2020 876 Views

Little Britain and Gone with the Wind are not Racist.

by James Murphy

BAN EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! Fine. But you started in the wrong places. 

So, Netflix has taken down Little Britain. Times have changed? Sure thing. In 2005, there was a climate of political progress still there, Iraq war aside. We were at a time whereby racism was a target of cruel comedy, and performers could reclaim its old weapons, including ‘black face’. Yes, Walliams and Lucas black/brown up. No, it’s not done from any point of malice. Indeed, most of their work has tended to target racism and support inclusion.

Come Fly With Me, the superior and warmer hearted sequel to Little Britain, sadly failed to get added series beyond its first. But worth a watch while you can. Taaj. Watch his dialogue with Ian Foot. Yes, Lucas plays an Asian. But that’s not the point. Its whole objective is the exposure of racism and the enforcement of newer, positive archetypes, over old stereotypes. You’d have to watch it to get it. But you probably cannot because no doubt it too will be banned. Shame.

Meanwhile, Gone with the Wind has also been taken off HBO Max. The film has civil war motifs because it is set in the past. Slaves are there because the war was in fact catalysed by, well, an epic clash of philosophy on the very idea of..slavery?! But it’s not, to my mind, saying slavery is ok. Indeed, the spectre of the legacy of repressed freedom dominates the movie’s core aesthetic. Primarily? This is a love story between a man in need of a challenging love-match and the woman whom he cannot tame, much as she might crave his counter-balancing power? I might have that wrong. But that’s the beauty of movies. Interpretation. Discussion. Review. Revisionism. Arts we are in very real danger of losing to a climate of darkness.

If you must condemn a film for racism, whatever its technical legacy? Go for DW Griffith and Birth of a Nation. Not heard of it? Then watch Black Klansman, an excellent model of film by an excellent director (Spike Lee) who just happens to be black. He includes a potted summary of Griffiths’ work, midway through his own thrilling film. THAT is proper historical and cultural revisionism. Deploying knowledge, wisdom, compassion and above all..free choice and will and trusting audiences to do likewise.

Here endeth the lesson.



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