• Daniel Ethan Finneran

"Gone With The Wind" And "Cuties"

October 2020

In this miserable year of outrage—atop which the heavy cloak of censorship has been draped, around which the iron fetters of conformity have been cast—few classic works of art and literature have escaped the censure of the Left. Few great works move about our culture, as once they did, liberated and free, inviting of any viewer, companionable to any reader, and congenial to the taste of every person inflamed with a propensity to think.

Now, such works are restrained and thwarted, bullied and abused. They’re contextualized, sterilized, scolded, and debased. Most ominously of all, however, they’re outright canceled—an irrevocable fate with which countless have been met.

To close observers of history and seekers after truth—of whom, like a dying species, there are but few—the fact that this is happening isn’t likely to surprise; such cherished and eminent works, upon which we confer the honorific of “classic”, to which we affix the title of “immortal”, are particularly susceptible to the cancelation of the Left. They are the prey of the those whose radical parentage stretches back to the wild fecundity of Karl Marx, by whom they were given birth and are still inspired.

From his genius, a thousand philosophies—each more injurious than the last—have spawned. His ideology, flavored by an Eastern herb, was absorbed into the thinking of the founding father of Bolshevism, Vladimir Lenin, and his Oriental successor, Mao Zedong.

All three men, Marx, Lenin, and Mao, disdained the cultural achievements of which a prior, though surely less enlightened age was the author. This was an age, or, properly speaking, a collection of centuries long since passed, whose lingering and nettlesome memory they hoped to expunge. All three wished to erase from the pages of their respective histories the imprints of an obsolete time prior to their own, during which a certain “false consciousness” was promulgated, and an imminent utopia stalled.

As such, the works on which their redactions were employed—those same classics to which we, conservatives in the best use of the term, devote our love, with whose protection we’re entrusted—became objects of their violence and abuse. Artifacts of the old world, they became targets of annihilation in the new. Ornaments of our heritage became blemishes on a body struggling for the universal fraternity toward which the “new man” strove.

To this end, every communist-aspirant agreed. Classic works of high importance and continued relevance would become elegant morsels upon which their cultural revolutions would feast. They’d become the delicious, previously-untouched forkfuls into which they couldn’t help but jab a knife and sink their teeth.

It seems, in the second half of the year 2020, the fully-matured hour of their feeding has arrived. They’ve entered into the stage of their uninterrupted repast, to which there appears to be no end. They’re in the process of consuming everything with which they come into contact, whether edible or not. And Leftists, as we’ve come to learn, are an insatiably hungry bunch. Employing a “torched-earth” policy and a “clean-plate” agenda, they’re a people from whom no elegant dish, not even one garnished by Shakespeare or Homer, Milton or Livy, can be concealed, and no cultural adornment hidden once they feel their stomachs growl and their indignation leap.

One such classic work, more detested and, therefore, more satisfyingly devoured than the rest, is Margaret Mitchell’s, Gone with the Wind. A faithful daughter of the South, Mitchell was infatuated with that subject from which, given the timing of her birth at the turn of the century, no one of her age was very distantly removed. Burdened by the weight of what was, to her, a distressingly recent end to America’s great internal war, she wrote Gone with the Wind with unusual novelistic force and personal interest. It became, in time, not only her life’s crowning glory, but her career’s sole literary contribution. Its subsequent depiction on the silver screen was once thought a testament to America’s cinematographic genius—a unique brilliance in an industry with which, still to this day, no other nation can compete.

It is, in some ways, a troublesome book, as it is a troublesome film. It’s far from a source to which we might turn in hopes of finding moral guidance and philosophical improvement. It’s not a work in whose image the mien of society should be set, to whose outlines we should conform ourselves. Its depiction of the Black race is objectionable, to say the least, as is its sanguine coloring of Southern fortitude and Confederate pride. The former is low and degrading while the latter is embellished to the point of excess. It treats its subject in far too cavalier a way, and views through rose-tinted glasses the brutal nature of a troubled past.

As such, it’s not a historical documentary by which we’ll be usefully instructed, upon which we should rely for a blueprint of liberal reform. It’s not a work that will provide us with a map directing us toward the equality that should be exercised in the treatment of all women and men, regardless of their genitals or the color of their skin. It’s not a work from which we should derive our lessons as they pertain to the racial issues in which, mercifully to a far lesser extent, we’re still engulfed, of which we’d very desperately like to be freed. We need not turn to it to deliver us this freedom.

Nevertheless, it is a classic work, from which perspective can be gained, by which the mind will be expanded, and in which satisfaction will be found. It’s certainly worth remembering that always, in any work, but especially those with which you disagree, something will be learned. That said, one must allow this process to happen, which begins, deliberately, with the opening of one’s mind. In the meantime, the artistic achievement is irrefragable, and, on that merit alone, its value must be granted and its many hours (rife with overtures and entr’actes) embraced.

Yet some platforms would rather whisk it away into the dustbin of obscurity, into the closet of American shame, out of whose endless depths and moldy corners, so few works succeed in climbing. HBO Max, the streaming service for the flagship network, famously removed the film from its repertoire at the start of this year. Having bathed in the plaudits of the bien pensant for so valiant and “woke” a move, it later re-instated the film, but not without a helpful caveat. For the convenience of the viewer, and the amelioration of his soul, a prologue was added before its credits rolled. Its intention was to contextualize the events to which he’d soon be exposed, while also signaling to him the pertinacity of its virtue, and crying out to him the sincerity of its tone.

By those on the Left, these two moves were cheered: its initial removal, and its subsequent contextualization. When, months later, Netflix released the French film, Cuties, I expected the outrage and the calls for censorship to be much the same. I thought, naively, that some new standard of aesthetic judgment had been reached, a way of looking at morally questionable films at which, with but one viewing, our instincts of propriety might cringe. Admittedly, the subject matter in each film is different (Cuties deals with quasi-pornographic depictions of prepubescent girls, while Gone with the Wind treats of the romance of the old South), but if the latter was deemed an intolerable affront to decorum, by which indignation was provoked, so too must be the former.

Much to my surprise, the outrage over Cuties never came. The clamors for its removal were heard only among those stationed on the Right, while those on the Left, keenest to cancel, were slowest to speak. Silence in the reception of this film might’ve been bad enough, but many positively lauded it. It became, strangely enough, a kind of feminist masterpiece, a paragon of progressivism over which leftist critics enthused. Sparkling columns were written on its behalf, and neither award nor trophy was denied it. It was, at least among one set of viewers, universally beloved and fiercely defended.

While Cuties has escaped the censure of the Left, Gone with the Wind has endured it. While the former has climbed the mountain of our acclaim, the latter has fallen into the pit of disrepute. It is an odd environment, indeed. If ever cancellation was to be administered, one would think now the appropriate time, and Cuties the appropriate film. Yet it stands above criticism and beyond reproach, while Gone with the Wind fights for its life.

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