It seems that we are currently experiencing a phase of the so-called “cancellation culture”. This week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that it will no longer publish six lesser-known children’s books by the famous children’s author due to offensive and racist portrayals. Mr. Potato Head is now gender neutral. Some episodes of The Muppet Show has special warning labels on Disney +. Aunt Jemima is knocked out on the syrup shelves. In a wave of reassessment of the cultural images we grew up with in our American lives, a new, more sensitive spotlight is presented on how we view the past through the prism of a more politically correct 2021.
In this regard, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the WarnerMedia-owned cable channel dedicated to lovingly presenting Hollywood’s film heritage from the medium’s inception until now, also jumped into the fray by announcing that it would dedicate prime-time programming every Thursday. for the month of March starting tonight with a new series called “Reframed: Classic Films In The Rearview Mirror”. The network puts it this way: “AAll of the movies in this series are legendary classics, but when we watch them today, we see them in a different cultural context. We often see issues now that we might not have seen when they were created, whether it’s race, gender, or LGBT issues. The five TCM hosts will take turns giving roundtable presentations of each of the films where they will discuss these 20e movies of the century with a 21st perspective of the century. The goal is never to censor, but simply to provide a rich historical context for each classic. “
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The series begins tonight by focusing on Gone with the wind, seven wives for seven brothers, By Hitchcock Rope, and 1939 The four feathers. The opening film, the Oscar-winning 1939 MGM classic David O’Selznick starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, has already received critical thinking from TCM’s new WarnerMedia brother, HBO Max, who l ‘withdrew from its fledgling streaming service during the racial unrest last summer. and following an LA TImes opinion piece by screenwriter John Ridley who criticized the film for glorifying slavery and perpetuating racist stereotypes about African Americans. At the time, the streamer said he would ultimately be restored with “a discussion of its historical context and a denunciation of those very portrayals … If we are to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive future, we need to first recognize and understand our history ”. It finally returned a few weeks later, accompanied by a 4 1/2 minute video intro from TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, putting it in context for audiences now, as well as an hour-long panel discussion. recorded at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival which examined the complicated history of the beloved epic.
To start from this TCM is to do your own programming targeting a selection of films that were made at one time and which, in some ways, may play very differently at that time, at least without context. “I think over the last couple of years just as the world has changed and the culture has changed, we at TCM have really tried to lean into that, and to be more than a place of pure nostalgia, but also to be a place that can really be a vital part of today’s cultural conversation, even as we show films from the past, ”said Dave Karger, TCM co-host, explaining why they have decided to develop what HBO Max started. “It was suggested to us that the five of us co-host this month-long series where we take a peek at a dozen real classic movies, but watch them from a more contemporary perspective. . And the idea is not to shame or berate these films, but simply to explain some of the context for some content that might seem shocking, inappropriate, or even offensive in some extreme examples today. “
Karger says there is no suggestion of censorship. These films are not cut, and in fact TCM prides itself on presenting films as they were made with no commercial interruption. But he says the world has changed a lot since many of their film stables for the channel, which founder and original owner Ted Turner created to show off his purchase of the famous MGM library, including the gem of the crown and his all-time favorite. , Blown away by the wind. “I think it’s important to watch, you know, in some cases the United States was just coming out of WWII, and you know the roles of men and women were very different back then. that they are today, of course. The way people looked at LGBT issues was very different, ”he said, noting that homosexuality was often seen as a mere psychiatric disorder in many films of past eras which are the bread and butter of TCM. for programming.
The hosts also helped select some of the films in the series. For example, co-host Alicia Malone suggested including something about how trans people and gender identity have been treated. This led to the inclusion of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which I had to admit that I had never thought of that way. “I think the trans community is often left out of conversations like this, and it’s just looking at it through, again, a different modern lens than what it means to have a bad guy dressing up.” like his mother (as Anthony Perkins did in Psycho) , and if they mention the word transsexual in the movie, which is, of course, a very outdated term now, they refer to it as a mental illness. And so, all of this can be problematic when we perhaps consider some of the real-life repercussions of having a trans character or a transvestite character either something very comical to laugh at or something quite horrible to consider monstrous. , especially when you see the studies that show that most Americans encounter the image of a trans person through film and television rather than in real life, ”said Malone.
Some of the films coming up in the next month include Guess who’s coming to dinner, the jazz singer, the researchers, swing time with Astaire and Rogers, Stagecoach, Tarzan the monkey man ,, My beautiful lady, children’s hour, Gunga Din, and more.
One of the films in the series is from 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s with her unforgettable performance as Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. She wasn’t the problem there, however. Recently, there was a report that Paramount was seeking the rights to remake the film. I suggested to an executive friend of mine at the studio that a better idea would be to just re-edit the original and remove Mickey Rooney from it. Problem solved, right? Rooney played a garish Asian stereotype, put into the film by director Blake Edwards for some cheap chuckles. In retrospect, it would be better without this character, but the censorship is just as bad. “We were talking about that movie and how, you know, this whole story where the character of Mickey Rooney feels out of place, intolerant and all, compared to the rest of the movie, and so you could see an argument to cut things, but of course at TCM I know we’re all very committed to keeping movies intact and continuing to play movies, even though they’re problematic because it allows us to have these discussions rather than just ignore them and pretend it never happened, ”Malone says.
Karger adds, “I’m really tired of seeing the phrase, cancel culture, thrown around, you know, all around, and I like to watch what we’re doing instead of undoing, it’s contextualizing, it” is conversation, to use other C words. And I think that’s a much more productive way of doing things. And like Alicia said, we’re not going to pretend it didn’t exist, but we’re also not going to just put it all on a pedestal and say it was all awesome. You can’t show Breakfast at Tiffany’s without discussing the offensive portrayal of Mickey Rooney and trying to figure out, what Ben Mankiewicz really helped me understand when we were talking about it for this series, why it happened then.
Another of tonight’s movies is the classic frothy musical Seven wives for seven brothers , nominated for the Oscars for Best Picture in 1954. What’s Wrong With It this? “It’s a wonderful musical. It’s a pleasure to watch. The choreography is athletic and awesome, and then you have, you know, the whole question of brothers kidnapping wives, and so it kind of talks about this idea of male domination as being a romantic idea and consent and all that. . problems, ”says Malone. “But then again, it’s not necessarily a movie that you might think would be involved in this series, but when you watch it with a modern eye you can see some things and some reasons why it’s problematic and why.” some people don’t. Enjoy watching it because of it. But I think the great fun of doing the show was having all of this talking and trying to come up with different ideas and tackling the gray area, I think, is really, really important.
The “gray area” is the point of this series, a way of watching classic movies, still loving them, but maybe still doing them in new ways.
“I think there’s a great mix here that touches on a wide range of issues, and what I really love, and I know Dave and the other hosts feel the same way, is that we’re in. able to have those high-profile conversations that sometimes we don’t normally speak to when it comes to film, ”says Malone. “But since each of these movies is a time capsule of the time they were made, we can really immerse ourselves in the company back then, what it looks like now, and how far we still have to go.”
Here is the full schedule:
Thursday March 4
8:00 p.m. Gone with the Wind (1939) (Ben, Jacqueline, Eddie)
12:00 p.m. Seven wives for seven brothers (1954) (Alicia, Dave, Eddie)
2:00 AM Rope (1948) (not hosted)
3:30 AM The Four Feathers (1939) (not hosted)
Thursday March 11
8:00 p.m. Woman of the Year (1942) (Eddie, Alicia, Ben)
22:15 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) (Jacqueline, Alicia, Eddie)
00:15 Gunga Din (1939) (Ben, Jacqueline, Dave)
2:30 AM Sinbad, the Sailor (1947) (not hosted)
4:30 AM The Jazz Singer (1927) (not hosted)
Thursday March 18
8:00 p.m. The Seekers (1956) (Ben, Alicia, Eddie)
10:15 p.m. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) (Dave, Alicia, Ben)
12:30 p.m. Swing Time (1936) (Jacqueline, Dave, Eddie)
2:15 AM Stagecoach (1939) (not hosted)
04:00 Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959) (not hosted)
Thursday March 25
8:00 p.m. My Fair Lady (1964) (Dave, Jacqueline, Alicia)
11:00 p.m. Children’s Hour (1961) (Alicia, Dave, Eddie)
01:00 Psycho (1960) (Ben, Alicia, Jacqueline)
03:00 Dragon Seed (1944) (not hosted)