The intro makes me feel a little less at ease watching the movie after, and maybe that’s the goal. It doesn’t matter that “GWTW” didn’t deliberately set out to create an uncomfortable viewing experience; the movie exists because of a hell of a lot of discomfort imposed on its Black cast members and Black audiences, while white people were spared any malaise for most of the film’s history.
At the time of this writing, it was announced that Jacqueline Stewart would be participating in the new Reframing Classics series on TCM, which will discuss 18 films made between the 1920s and 1960s that also happen to be problematic. “GWTW” will be included, as will “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Swing Time.” Stewart explains to the LA Times that the point isn’t to make people hate the movies they love, “we’re just trying to model ways to have longer and deeper conversations,” she says.
These conversations actually help me want to know more about the art. So even if I can’t look at it the same way as I did before, I develop a more profound understanding of it, and that makes it infinitely more interesting.
It’s okay for our relationship with art to change. Some works are deemed too shocking and controversial when they first come out. Sometimes the shock and controversy come after. We’re not really engaging with art if we insist that its significance and greatness are sacrosanct.
Better Dead or Fired?
A few years ago, I published a piece on this site about my decision to stop watching Woody Allen movies because I believe he sexually assaulted Dylan Farrow when she was a child. A “friend” read the headline and predictably mocked what he assumed was my argument. What about Mozart, Jim Morrison, Picasso, he asked, are we going to cancel them wholesale because they were assholes too?
And it’s true, they were assholes too. But they’re also dead assholes and incapable of causing anyone more pain.