Racial criticism

Recent historical studies of the Civil Rights Movement have focused on the idyllic portrayal (epitomised in the opening credits) of the Civil War-era South in the film. Professor D.J. Reynolds wrote that "The white women are elegant, their menfolk noble or at least dashing. And, in the background, the black slaves are mostly dutiful and content, clearly incapable of an independent existence." Reynolds likened Gone with the Wind to Birth of a Nation (based on The Clansman) and other re-imaginings of the South during the era of segregation, in which white Southerners are portrayed as defending traditional values and the issue of slavery is largely ignored. Hattie McDaniel's performance (for which she became the first black American to win an Oscar) and Butterfly McQueen's have been described as stereotypes of a 'black Mammy' and a child-like black slave (in the novel, the character of Prissy was twelve years old, but played in the film by an adult). Malcolm X recalled that "when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug."

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