Gone with the Wind—the top-grossing movie of all time, adjusted for inflation—remains an iconic influence in American culture, despite its deeply troubling portrayal of social and political dynamics in the South during and after the Civil War. The continued popularity of the film points to a need to examine its influence on nearly a century's worth of American race relations, fascistic movements, and denialism in the United States. And why did Adolf Hitler reportedly love it so much?
David Priess spoke with cultural and literary historian Sarah Churchwell of the University of London, author of The Wrath To Come, a book that dives deeply into the film, how it reflects a mythologized "Lost Cause" version of the Old South, and its connection with today's increasing political violence. They discussed the popularity of the movie, its differences from the book it was based on, some of the challenges for filmmaker David O. Selznick and for the film's actors, the "Lost Cause" theme that the movie conveys, its intersection with fascist thinking in America and with modern racism, why it attracted Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders, its links to various iterations of the Klan and "America First" campaigns, and how even disturbing movies like this can spur social progress.
Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Among the works discussed in this episode:
The movie Gone with the Wind
The book Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The book The Wrath To Come: Gone with the Wind and the Lies America Tells by Sarah Churchwell
The article "Agglutination Test for Americanos" by Leslie L. Jones, The Smart Set magazine, May-Aug 1922.
The book Behold, America: The Entangled History of "America First" and "the American Dream" by Sarah Churchwell