In (still) trying to come to terms with Season 8 of GoT (Tormund’s there. Let’s focus on Tormund.), I ran across this in my fandom-Google-stumbling:
Courtesy of David Crow’s piece “How Gone With the Wind Influenced Game of Thrones“, published on Den of Geek. Copyright May 2020.
Apparently “George R.R. Martin frequently mentions Gone With the Wind in interviews”…
My first thought was a simultaneous cacophony of “Lord in Heaven, help us one and all” and “FFS”.
Then I thought, “Well. Damn. I ain’t read that…thing.”
Make no mistake, I grew up on the movie. I defy you to find a White Southerner, particularly female, who didn’t see it at least once in the 90s. My memory of Gone With the Wind did not come from a marketed VHS copy, but from a VHS you could record on, the ancestor of DVR, a…whatever-the-hell those orange-boxed ones were…Maxell?…TDK?…anyways, it was recorded off of ABC or CBS. Some publicly, widely available television channel. Prime time. I distinctly remember that as the years rolled on, the greatest enjoyment of watching our VHS copy was not the actual film, but in the quickly-dated fashions and technology in the commercials. And the M&Ms commercials. Y’all should’ve seen how much we loved M&Ms and those original Mac computers.
Even if I didn’t have a copy of the film, the stories of my family connected to Gone With the Wind would have been passed down anyways. This makes my family sound more “connected” than we actually are, but what I mean to say is that no, we weren’t extras lying on stretchers in that famous scene in Atlanta, and no, we weren’t extras at Twelve Oaks flouncing around in those bell skirts. But. One of my grandmothers fell in love with the idea of Scarlett to the point that she christened the hog on the farm she was raised on “Scarlett.” And painted the word “Tara” over the pen. Yup. Y’all. Welcome.
There you go.
And I defy you to find a White, Southerner, and particularly female family history that doesn’t have some similar story connected to the impact this book and this film made on a particular generation of the South. The “BuzzFeed quiz” question of the White Southerner Female Generation of 1940 (when Gone With the Wind premiered) was not what Disney Princess you were, but if you were more of a Melanie or a Scarlett. God forbid you were an India. At least if you were a Belle you got to sleep with Rhett. Allegedly.
Anywhos, I can only speak for the White Southerners. I can only testify as to what has been passed down to me as a White Southerner. And that’s what I aim to challenge myself to do by reading the damn book this whole thing was based on, and then influenced the generations who influenced me.
Full disclosure, Pt. 1, I visited Margaret Mitchell’s home in Atlanta once. That’s about all I know about Margaret Mitchell.
Full disclosure, Pt. 2, beyond visits to battlefields and poring over National Park Service materials that were published for the recent 150th observations and anniversaries of the 1860-1865 American Civil War (I specify the years, because I still maintain that America’s War for Independence was America’s first civil war), I am by no means, an expert on that American Civil War. I am not reading Gone With the Wind to examine its historical content. (You want historical-accuracy examinations of this novel, honey, I’m sure they’re out there. Godspeed. Ask a Park Ranger.)
I’m reading this book in an effort to get off the porch and really face this thing. Especially Scarlett “That Woman” O’Hara.
That woman has been my shadow whether I blessed-well like it, or not. As soon as folks figure out where I’m from, and how long my family’s been below the Mason-Dixon, two things usually, historically pop out of people’s mouths:
“Where’s your accent?” (SIGH.)
“So, you’re like Scarlett!” (…….n.o.)
I mean, for L.A.N.D. S.A.K.E.S, Scarlett Bless-ed O’Hara was a piece of shit racist, and if you just feel like shimmyin’ on past that fact, she was about as mean as twenty cottonmouths in the middle of summer and a few Mama-Bears-Who-Think-You’re-About-To-Threaten-Their-Cubs-So-You-Better-Run-Forrest-Run combined! Why in the WORLD do we “pedestal” this person?
Welp. I aim to figure that the fudge out. Because like it or not, being a Southern female means you have to face the Specter of Scarlett. Thanks, Margaret Mitchell. And David O. Selznick. Sigh.
Lord in Heaven, help us one and all. Amen.
Copyright Off The Porch History 2021