Worst Movie Ever Made…? Every time Gone With The Wind fills the screen with its dishonest portrait of the Old South as it was before the Civil War, I cringe.
About the Worst Movie Ever Made
Gone With The Wind is a classic mainly because Vivian Leigh’s work as a conflicted Scarlett is unforgettably heroic. Clark Gable’s as Rhett is classic movie’s iconic display of rugged individualism.
Consider the other side: Movie making with a conscience
And both stars are almost indescribably attractive and showcased at their most beautiful.
Their acclaim is well-earned. But that doesn’t justify the extra baggage, the romanticizing of a culture built on slavery that comes with it.
Popularity alone is key in earning Gone With The Wind the distinction of Worst Movie Ever Made.
Other bad movies filled with bad ideas are forgotten or resurrected to be mocked, but not Gone With The Wind.
Gone With The Wind is embedded in our culture. People watch with the indiscretion they show in drinking sugar water (soft drinks). The dangers are known but ignored.
Gone With The Wind Leads the Pack
This movie depicts southern plantation owners as benign innocents. They are loyal to their homeland, a little ignorant, but determined to sustain the prettified honor of their culture.
That culture was impossible without enslaving millions of African laborers. Almost all descend from free people kidnapped and shipped across the ocean.
Terrible conditions onboard resulted in cruel deaths. An estimated 20% of the human cargo perished in crowded, filthy ship holds before reaching America.
Not once in Gone With The Wind do we see slaves beaten or punished for not obeying their masters. But it was common practice on plantations.
Gross exaggeration of reality finds loyal slaves marching off to defend the Confederacy while Atlanta falls around them.
Never do we see any mixed race children. They were common on plantations where slaves were routinely raped by their “owners.”
Instead, we see docile servants, each happy to serve the O’Hara family. They are undistinguishable from household servants in other films, part of the family. They’re not bright, but they’re happy to serve.
The Civil War as Modern Day Romantics Prefer
It’s hard to say it’s worse than how slavery is misrepresented, but the depictions of war are at least as offensive.
As the South falls, tens of thousands injured and dead, Sherman’s march on Atlanta is shown like a fall into a hell of the North’s creation. Victimized Southerners descend into crime only as their city burns around them.
Scarlett escapes, a loyal, ignorant slave at her side, with Rhett’s gallant assistance.
The South started the Civil War by attacking Fort Sumter, and their heroic General Robert E. Lee sustained the Confederacy by grinding out one of the most efficient killing machines in the history of the world.
We don’t hear that he invaded the North, hoping to make Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country, safe for slavery.
The Confederacy: Domestic Terror Lionized
Three-quarters of a million people died because the South was desperate to keep slavery. Plantation culture survived only on the backs of millions of lives in chains.
Finally, scenes of suffering of soldiers, maimed and dying to the streets ignore the dubious cause. Southerners die for a cause. That cause is slavery.
Outside Atlanta, in Andersonville, Union prisoners are held in deplorable conditions, dying in filth, diseased and hungry.
Andersonville, where the noble Southerners inflicted the grossest inhumanity on other Americans, goes unnoticed in Gone With The Wind.
Reality spoils the fantasy of horrors the South committed to save slavery.
The American Civil War was the worst disaster in our history. More people died than in all our other wars combined.
The Confederacy claimed for States Rights. Their economy depended on massive slavery, and they feared it being banned.
Gone With The Wind sustains the myth of Southern honor, as if there really was more at stake than preserving a culture dependent on kidnapping, rape and enslavement.
And it romanticizes conditions to the extent that it’s impossible to see any evil in the pre-war Southern plantation lifestyle. Why would Northerners want to destroy the charms and grace of the South?
I hate this movie, its endless propaganda.
It became an admired classic. That exposes of our national preference for romanticized ignorance over reality. Tolerance of white supremacy is part of the package.
It’s almost as if slavery didn’t exist, certainly none of its evils, except as a detached concept.
Disclaimer: I once wrote that Amadeus was the worst movie ever made, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that it was really Gone With The Wind until I made the mistake of trying to watch this lump of soupy propaganda recently. I apologize to the makers of Amadeus for knocking it off the pedestal.
Gone with the Wind is the worst movie ever made, an exploitation film designed to clean up the horror of slavery and replace it with a genteel fantasy of sophisticated plantation owners victimized by the North.
What do you think?
Note: An somewhat different version of this article was published in my newspaper, The Roosevelt Island Daily.