offer you lemonade or ice cool tea, and show you where the cotton was picked, as if it were Disney World.
“That is where these perverse things happened. And that is what I wanted to show, exactly as it was. Deal with it.”—Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), quoted in Peter Aspden, “The World is Perverse…Deal With It,” The Financial Times, Oct. 4-5, 2015
In the immensely powerful medium of cinema, it has taken a long time for the truth about slavery to seep out. Even the TV juggernaut that the miniseries Roots became in the 1970s didn’t come close to erasing the image left by Birth of a Nation (or, even more so, Gone With the Wind, pictured) about the nature of the South under slavery.
A little over six years after the premiere of the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, many of the romantic myths surrounding antebellum culture and the Confederacy endure. We shall see if the well-publicized moves by Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to open its membership beyond white males will corrode these misperceptions at long last.
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