A reader asked me to take a look at the movie Gone With the Wind and Compare it to a Madea movie. While I simply don’t have the mental toughness to deal with the ENTIRE Gone With the Wind Movie, I was able to catch some clips of it in on Youtube (specifically the scenes with Mammy)
It also helps that I was thinking of doing a post like this for my BWiF Series and this fits right in.
So thank You Oekmma for the suggestion.
Let’s get started. ….
Progress. Important to any group of people who want change for the better, it’s that signal that you’ve actually gone somewhere and everyone wants that.
Except for one group of people the idea of progress, of change for the better seems to be all sizzle and no steak. Because if you look closely, if you take off the blinders, remove yourself from the rhetoric that people keep shooting towards black women, things have stayed EXACTLY. THE. SAME. Concerning the images of black women in the media.
When you look at images of black women in movies like Gone With the Wind you probably say to yourself, people would have you believe, “That’s bad but black women have definitely come a loooooong way in the media.” Other delusional people want you to catch their disease as they convince you that you live now a post racial world.
But let’s take a closer look.
Mammy from Gone With the Wind is a * classic* caricature of black women in the media. She is literally everything that mainstream media loves to present black women as, save for the Jezebel stereotype, though I’m sure that if you looked closely you could probably find a hint of that too. She is the classic asexual, subservient, sassy, overweight, angry, black woman that many black women have been portrayed as for as long as we can all remember. Hell she is probably the birth of that caricature in modern television.
But while some people like to put her out of their mind, I’m not so quick to forget the influence this character still has on almost all black women on television today.
But why it important to realize this?
Is the question that I’m sure that you want to know.
It is important to realize that black women are being tricked. That black women are really looking into an elaborate hoax with smoke and mirrors.
The point of the media, especially for black women is to reinforce stereotypes without having to change at all. That is, despite popular belief the television is a tool that is used to promote whatever agenda is popular or money making at the time.
For black women that agenda is most of the times unattractive, embarrassing , racist/sexist and everything else in between.
Duh, you’re probably saying to yourself, you were smart enough to realize that. Of course you know that the media has an agenda that harms black women.
But usually I only notice black women jump at things that are extremely overt ( though considering some black women that isn’t strictly true) But the thing that also stands is that the new name of the game is that now the media likes to pretend that black women are getting something, that progress is being made.
For example look at any character regarding black women in the media, and yes I mean ANY. You may think that the character is “fleshed out” you may think that the circumstances of the character have changed but if you look closely they are exactly the same.
I look at the movie, Precious. So many people ( black women included) lauded it because it showed the abuse of black women. And while on the surface that *may* have been true ( although that is debatable) if you look closely the Mammy stereotype born of Gone With The Wind still haunts that movie.
On a psychological level it subconsciously reinforces the same thing. That black women are overweight, greasy, unintelligent, angry, abusive( in the case of the mother) abuse victims, women that can’t fully enjoy life because they are too busy trying to escape their lot.
Further what should be the characters moment of truth when she leaves her mother doesn’t actually show much triumph when you think about it.
It actually creates more questions than it solves.
In the end of the movie we see her walking away from her mother and down the street.
Yet what happens after. Yes she gets her GED. But big whoop. Here is child with severe mental issues who has been raped ( some of it incestuously),abused, treated like crap, and has two children.
But the movie shows no flash forward to the years later showing her successful. Does it?
They don’t show her getting therapy. They don’t show her mother in prison. They don’t show her children getting a good education. They don’t show her in college, with a high paying job. Nothing.
Now you may say, well they “alluded” to her getting her GED.
And yet we don’t know what will happen after that and that’s the point.
The point of the media is to show a bit of upliftment so as the masses of movie goers don’t get angry while still keeping the reinforcement.
Whatever happens to Mammy… ahem.. Precious off screen is just that off screen. Because her triumphs are not actually necessary to show. That wasn’t the intent. The intent was to show black women in the worst way possible.
*Similar to the Pavlov’s dog experiment in psychology the point wasn’t to give dogs food more like to condition them to respond to a bell. Similar the point of the movies is not to uplift but to get black women to go to movies meanwhile conditioning them to believe the imagery and respond accordingly in real life. Psychologically speaking some might consider this classic conditioning. Sooner or later black women won’t even need the food ( aka the tiny bit of happiness in the movie) to shell out their money.
Like Mammy in Gone With the Wind we never know what her true hopes and dreams are. hell we don’t even know her name. We never see her except in the context of the Scarlett O Hara(?) character. We are allowed to see Precious learn to read ( which isn’t a great feat nowadays because that won’t be the only thing to get you a job or out of the ghetto)
We don’t get to see her in a foster family or really anything during the movie besides her suffering reinforcing the stereotype that black women live dark, dank, dreary lives that nobody can ever rescue them from.
It was just enough to keep people from getting up in their seats without giving any true happiness. meanwhile conditioning and taking money.
Target hit media, target hit.
If you want another example of this look at the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. That movie also did what it intended to do. Reinforcing the stereotype of black women and girls, as rough and tough black women who in the end didn’t actually get any help and who suffer abuse while living in poverty. Meanwhile walking around with their hair disheveled (and note that they made sure to show her natural hair in a messy disheveled state. And this isn’t a knock on natural hair because I am natural myself) but they made sure to show her as much of a mess as possible.
Also not that in this movie they made sure that they cut off the movie before they actually showed her getting help similar to precious. But they had plenty of time to show her say she was “da man” and flexing her non existent muscles.
I also think it was telling that this book was written with a boy (white) in it. ( If I’m not mistaken) and notice how they switched her to a black girl but had her still behaving like one.
Reinforcing the non delicate, masculine ultimately mammy stereotype of the strong black female. And yes I use the word female instead of “Girl’ “lady” “Woman” etc because the media makes sure to distance themselves from that.
No this movie spent just enough time showing her in squalor (for some reason people find poverty inspring and not sad) without showing her truly get help. Ie not live in a dump etc. Who truly have to help themselves and keep a stiff upper lip.
The mammy stereotype from GWTW was just reinforced in a more adorable package but it was still there none the less.
Of course black women don’t realize they’re pretty much buying into the same stereotypes birthed in Gone with the Wind. The pretty packaging, the rhetoric the push to believe that this is reality provides a strong defense.
Look at movies Like Madea.
Madea is pretty much, almost 100% the same exact version of Mammy from GWTW.
In fact if you want to compare side by side, both are unattractive, angry, sassy, and overly concerned with the lives of others.
And similar to Mammy once you finish watching any Madea movie you know virtually nothing about Madea herself. What her life was like. What she likes / dislikes ( besides disrespect because of course all black women are concerned with disrespect) what makes her tick.
Because that isn’t the point of the movie that is ironically named after her. The point of the movie like Mammy in GWTW is to show black women being the most, masculine unattractive version of themselves without changing the status quo. So they can easily shut the movie off before they ever get to her character or ask why she acts the way she does.
But as I was saying the promotions/ the rhetoric is a strong. The “force” is with PR campaigns like this. They have plenty of excuses, they claim that Mammy was historically correct in GWTW, just like they claim that Black women like Madea actually exist *somewhere* though I’ve never seen any grandmother drive their car into a fast food joint.
The claim that this is groundbreaking, that black women are receiving roles, though ironically a MAN gets to portray black WOMEN as HE sees fit.
I guess Mammy was groundbreaking because the actress won the first Oscar for black women. And it’s telling that it was a role that pretty much ruined the image of black women then and now. And its also telling that for all the groundbreaking she had to sit a separate table at the Oscars because she was black.
So there’s that.
They also add a bit of humor so you mistakenly walk away feeling good without realizing you got effed. Or they throw in some ambiguous scene that they can say see they “prevailed in the end” though if you look closely they really don’t.
The protection is that these movies are providing something new, providing a cornucopia of different roles for black women from “all walks of life.” And really they still have the same function.
Really that’s the point.
Similar to a virus or a disease, it’s function is to get into the immune system shut down the white blood cells that would attack it by posing as one of them ( while ruining black women from the inside out)
Of course black women don’t realize that they’re being poisoned, hell they probably think they’re in greater shape than ever.
And for the black women who have a better immune system and call it out, well no one is going to listen, because nobody can see what’s wrong.
I was recently on a certain feminist website ( I won’t link and I won’t name but if you can guess good for you)
And there was an interview by the woman who plays the stereotypical Donna on Parks and Recreation.
Funnily enough the commenters talked about how much they loved her and wanted her to be their BFF. (yes someone really said that)
Because nothing says BFF like a sassy black woman.
Black women take this sort of perception with open arms.
They seem to think that their it is progress if audiences like the black female character. They think they’re breaking grounds. That black women are being given actual roles and not only being accepted because they are a comfortable mammy figure that white women can identify with.
Think I’m lying I want to point out a comment on a YouTube clip of GWTW
It shows they have a relationship of love and understanding. Scarlett respects her love for Mammy and Mammy loves Scarlett because she reminds her of Scarlet´s mother beauty that none of the other sisters had. Scarlett is 16 and she is spoiled and very modern for that time when girls were supposed to be just porcelain vases to admire. Scarlett wants to save her land because of what her father always said to her. Its a nice movie and very complex if u read the book there is more to it than this.
See this movie likes to pretend that there is some sort of complex character behind Mammy, that her relationship with Scarlett is Good and Nice and fleshed out. That black women are winning because of it. Meanwhile in actuality this character reinforces two things. The popular idea of black women as mammy’s themselves, the idea that black women’s existence is wrapped up in that of white women and it does it all while safely keeping black women in the same box.
What I could also LOL at is that this commenter blindly talks about “women being porcelain vases” but I guess he doesn’t consider Mammy a woman, because she is not a porcelain vase nor is she someone that anyone could or would want to admire. The disease has truly taken hold because he doesn’t even consider Mammy a woman who is nothing like, lives nothing like the woman he is claiming do.
The disease is taking firm hold. Not only do black women think it’s harmless, but people think it portrays healthy love for black women. Meanwhile in real life its firmly taken hold as white women want now want their very own Donna to be the Mammy to their Scarlett.
We’re definitely in trouble.
Indeed this silent but deadly disease has honestly tricked black women and pulled the wool over our eyes.
Not only is it giving black women false promises and lies of change but black women are having their lives ruined while shelling out millions of dollars of year.
And by the time black women figure this out it may just be too late for an antidote
But this author is immune.
And she’s warning you all to take a good look at what you support and ask yourself i f what you’re watching is truly ground breaking is it just a Mammy in a better costume.
Until Next Time,
Ps. This was post was part of a series.
Previous post in series: Black Women in Fandoms 101: Identification & Characterization
Next Post in Series : Ah Benevolence : The Trick Is To Make You Think It’s For Your Own Good, All The While Screwing You OVER. BWiF 103
Note, the picture does not belong to me.