Report from Louisiana: When do the Book Burnings Begin?

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Report from Louisiana: When do the Book Burnings Begin?

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – In a move that should be a sur­prise to no one at this point, the Orpheum The­ater in Mem­phis has pulled the 1939 film, Gone with the Wind, from its annual sum­mer screen­ing after 34 years, cit­ing com­plaints from offended citizens.

In a state­ment to the New York Times:

Brett Bat­ter­son, pres­i­dent of the Orpheum The­ater Group, said … “The Orpheum care­fully reviewed all of them. As an orga­ni­za­tion whose stated mis­sion is to ‘enter­tain, edu­cate and enlighten the com­mu­ni­ties it serves,’ the Orpheum can­not show a film that is insen­si­tive to a large seg­ment of its local population.”

The slip­pery slope is now in our rear view mir­ror, folks. We’re done here.

We can’t screen cer­tain films because they are “insen­si­tive to a large seg­ment” of the local pop­u­la­tion? Just imag­ine where this will now lead. Let your mind wan­der and just imag­ine the films that could be offen­sive to any large group of peo­ple. The list could be staggering.

I expect we won’t be see­ing To Kill a Mock­ing­bird on tele­vi­sion or in libraries any­more, or The Adven­tures of Huck­le­berry Finn, or even Harry Pot­ter, because cer­tainly peo­ple might be offended.

Let me guess – these are prob­a­bly the same peo­ple walk­ing around in their Che Gue­vara t-​shirts.

The mer­its of the film are long estab­lished and don’t need my small voice to vouch for it; it won ten Oscars includ­ing one for Hat­tie McDaniel who was the first black woman to win an Oscar.

Mar­garet Mitchell once said that the theme of her novel is sur­vival. “What qual­ity is it that makes some peo­ple able to sur­vive cat­a­stro­phes and oth­ers, appar­ently just as brave and strong, go under?”

I’m not sure the his­tory of our nation will sur­vive censorship.

The point is less the film itself but that our selec­tive out­rage has moved from stat­ues to film. We truly are in Ray Bradbury’s world. When will the book burn­ings begin?

As for The Orpheum I would have applauded them had they had the nerve to stand up to intim­i­da­tion and rejected censorship.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – In a move that should be a surprise to no one at this point, the Orpheum Theater in Memphis has pulled the 1939 film, Gone with the Wind, from its annual summer screening after 34 years, citing complaints from offended citizens.

In a statement to the New York Times:

Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum Theater Group, said … “The Orpheum carefully reviewed all of them. As an organization whose stated mission is to ‘entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves,’ the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population.”

The slippery slope is now in our rear view mirror, folks.  We’re done here.

We can’t screen certain films because they are “insensitive to a large segment” of the local population?  Just imagine where this will now lead.  Let your mind wander and just imagine the films that could be offensive to any large group of people.  The list could be staggering.

I expect we won’t be seeing To Kill a Mockingbird on television or in libraries anymore, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or even Harry Potter, because certainly people might be offended.

Let me guess – these are probably the same people walking around in their Che Guevara t-shirts.

The merits of the film are long established and don’t need my small voice to vouch for it; it won ten Oscars including one for Hattie McDaniel who was the first black woman to win an Oscar.

Margaret Mitchell once said that the theme of her novel is survival.  “What quality is it that makes some people able to survive catastrophes and others, apparently just as brave and strong, go under?”

I’m not sure the history of our nation will survive censorship.

The point is less the film itself but that our selective outrage has moved from statues to film.  We truly are in Ray Bradbury’s world.  When will the book burnings begin?

As for The Orpheum I would have applauded them had they had the nerve to stand up to intimidation and rejected censorship.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.