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Home Books 5 Classic Gone with the Wind Moments Historically Debunked

5 Classic Gone with the Wind Moments Historically Debunked

James Tublin
James Tublin

Frankly, We Do Give a Damn!

By John William Huelskamp, author of Friends of the Wigwam: A Civil War Story

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Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/1/16 – “Gone With The Wind is the highest grossing film of all time and sits at #6 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films” according to Smithsonian.com. Margaret Mitchell’s book is also a consistent best-seller. With so many people absorbing this story, it must be rooted in historical accuracies and be a great representation of war, gender, and race during the Civil War, right? Eh, not so much.

Myth 1: The Southern Charm — In Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind, Southern society is described as Eden-like, as though no harm was being done to any of the people, especially those who were enslaved. The book has been described as “unforgivably racist,” yet it continues to warp perceptions of this time period.

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8441635Myth 2: Those “Damn Yankees”— In Mitchell’s story, all Yankees are bad. In fact, not one Yankee character is found to have any redeeming qualities. They are drunks, they steal, cheat, set fires to buildings, and point fingers at freed slaves calling them disloyal. However, history shows that it was the South’s own Confederate General, John Bell Hood, who is largely responsible for leading a series of damaging assaults on the city of Atlanta.

Myth 3: Representation of African-Americans — Male slaves in Gone with the Wind are shown as unintelligent and menacing, which is troubling from a historical and societal standpoint. It’s important to note that the film’s release took place during a time when the country was undergoing blatant racial discrimination. However, history shows us that many African-Americans during this time period, and in this particular location, were citizens who were trying to help with efforts of the underground railroad and who were also fighting in infantries. Of particular note, Joe Arbuckle was a young runaway slave who joined the 29th USCT (United States Colored Infantry) Regiment. Arbuckle is featured in the new book Friends of the Wigwam: A Civil War Story, and we should remember such young people who risked their lives for freedom instead of praising inaccurate stories only created to serve Hollywood.

goneMyth 4: Scarlet’s Gender Conflict — Scarlet O’Hara ultimately loses the love of her life because she is not able to commit to stereotypical gender norms. She is even heralded as straying from conventional feminine traits. Ironically, she seems to embody the very stereotype of female submissiveness in heterosexual romantic relationships. In reality, many women during this time period were in survival mode, not occupied with trivial matters. Many women, such as Jennie Hodgers, disguised herself as a man and joined the fight. Others served as nurses, caretakers, and took on actual roles of men who were fighting at war.

Myth 5: War DemographicsIn Gone with the Wind, soldiers are perceived as brutish white men. The fact is that the war claimed many young lives. People as young as 16 fought in battle. In my new book Friends of the Wigwam: A Civil War Story, I show how the lives of young people were shaken up when war split up families, relationships, and life as they knew it. Soldiers also consisted of African-Americans, women, and transgender people—many of their stories have been swept under the rug, distorting society’s idea of masculinity, gender, and war.

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gone2For a more accurate depiction of romance, friendship, life, and survival during the Civil War, we recommend John William Huelskamp’s new novel Friends of the Wigwam: A Civil War Story. Visit www.friendsofthewigwam.com for details.

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and TV Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.today, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board as a chief organizer of the Television Critics Association’s press tours, held twice a year in Beverly Hills and Pasadena. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and the Desert Aids Project, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been an active member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.