TCM's 'Reframed' caters to 'woke' crowd. Plus: YouTube's repressive standards. And, Ds vs. Rs.

By Gary Abernathy

Movies ‘reframed’ another casualty of ‘woke’ culture

Since its inception, I’ve been a big fan of Turner Classic Movies. I especially love films made in the 1930s and ‘40s. Sadly, TCM has fallen victim to “wokeness,” and recently aired a series of movies under the heading “reframed,” wherein channel hosts discussed the cultural problems – mostly racism -- with movies like “Gone With The Wind,” “The Searchers” and many more.

Apologizing for the cultural attitudes of 80 or 90 years ago as we view these films so many decades after they were produced is ludicrous. Part of me realizes that we should be grateful, in the current environment, that these films are still being shown at all. There are those who would prefer they be shelved entirely, or edited to the point of being unrecognizable. They’d probably like to burn some books, too (like Dr. Suess?). But movies are merely another form of art. Art is timeless, and often reflects the era in which it was created.

“Gone With The Wind” is one of the – if not THE – greatest movies ever made. From the time I first saw this 1939 masterpiece -– I can’t remember exactly when that was, but I think it was at a drive-in in the early 1970s a couple of years before they showed it on TV for the first time in 1976 – I’ve been blown away by it. And unlike some films from that era in which black actors undeniably played demeaning roles, I always felt the portrayal of slavery in GWTW was handled with sensitivity.

They don’t shy away from how poorly the field slaves were treated, with at least two storylines of white overseers who were particularly cruel. And perhaps the most admirable character in the whole movie is the one played by Hattie McDaniel, the first black actor to win an Oscar, which she nabbed for her role as “Mammy.” In GWTW, Mammy is played as someone with more wisdom and dignity than most of the white people. It’s telling that Gable’s character, Rhett Butler, says at one point in the film that Mammy is one of the few people whose respect he’d like to have.

Likewise for “The Searchers,” the great John Wayne film directed by John Ford. In probably Wayne’s best performance (yes, better than Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” for which he won an overdue Oscar), Wayne is a racist who plans to kill his niece, “Debbie,” played by young Natalie Wood, because a she was kidnapped and raised by Comanches. Today’s “woke” people don’t like it because Wayne is a hero of the film despite his racism. But the fact is, the movie concludes with Wayne having a change of heart and, as everyone knows, he actually rescues Debbie and carries her home.  

I appreciate TCM playing the old films. But the powers that be at Turner should be “woke” to the fact that its viewers are smart enough to watch these films, recognize racist or sexist elements when they are there, and consider those factors without anyone explaining it to us. Just show the movie with the same kind of interesting introductions about actors, directors, etc. that has always been offered. Leave the apologies for the progressive activists.

For an excellent critique of TCM’s decision to present some of the old classics  “reframed,” check out this great article in National Review by culture critic Armond White.

Alarming times for free thought, protected speech

Get this – YouTube says it’s working hard to take down any content that contains “hate speech and disinformation.” And here’s how it defines these things, according to the Washington Post: “The company says it has taken action, removing anti-vaccine content and coronavirus misinformation under its policy against medical misinformation, purging the site of videos related to the QAnon extremist ideology, and banning President Donald Trump’s account after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Trump’s account remains banned.”

Who decides what’s “misinformation?” You can’t be against vaccines? “Purging” the site of “videos related to QAnon extremist ideology?” “Related”  -– does that mean both for and against? You can’t mention QAnon at all, even in a philosophical discussion about conspiracies?

What’s happening in the name of “truth” and protecting Americans from themselves is truly frightening. The effort to eliminate any narratives or lines of thought that are contrary to those stamped “official” or “acceptable” is mind-boggling, and it’s particularly astounding that so many news media organizations – the self-avowed protectors of the First Amendment -- are largely supportive of such actions. These are alarming days in regard to the threats to the concepts of free thought and protected speech.

Democrats outnumber Republicans, for now

USA Today reports, “More Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans by a margin that hasn't been seen in a decade, according to a report released by Gallup on Wednesday. An average of 49% of adults age 18 and older reported Democratic Party affiliation or said they are independent with Democratic leanings throughout the first quarter of 2021, the pollster reported…  In comparison, 40% of adults identified as Republican or Republican-leaning. The 9% difference is the Democrats' largest advantage since the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the report.”

It’s not surprising or unusual when the party of the new president shows an increase in voter allegiance as part of the “bandwagon” effect. But I have no doubt the Gallup findings are an accurate reflection of where things stand today. Check back in 2024, when it’s likely to be quite different.

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