Oct 022010

Before the wind blows us too far past Scarlett O’Hara, I want to point out that opinions about her have changed as women have challenged their role in society.  GWTW was released on the cusp of a decade that dispensed a raft of movies featuring strong, even ruthless women; Joan Crawford epitomized this type, with her mannish shoulder pads and hard-edged face.  In an essay about the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the fair’s science director Gerald Wendt outlined social problems the Fair hoped to address—among them was “the ambitions of women” (Dawn of a New Day, published by The Queens Museum).  So, while modern viewers might call Scarlett obnoxious, it was her drive (her very narcissism) that appealed to contemporaneous movie-goers.   The movie allowed her to be every bit as ambitious as a man.  That was a big boost to women.  Plus, some Depression-era women thought men had screwed up America, and should now back off and give women room to fix it.

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