This 2007 study focuses on the economic, social, and quality-of-life disparities between black students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and black students who attend Traditionally White Institutions (TWIs). Most important to my paper is the data regarding wage disparity between these groups of students. The study looks at two generations of students -- those who graduated in 1972, and those who graduated in 1997. By eliminating the variable of race, the study is able to look at the quantitative difference in the average earned wage between black students who attended both HBCUs and TWIs. It does not speculate as to why the disparity exists; only that it does.
According to the study, in 1972, a black graduate of a HBCU earned an average of 14.46 per hour, whereas a black graduate of a TWI earned only 11.38. By 1997, however, this wage disparity had reversed itself -- the average black student at a HBCU earned 7.68 an hour, whereas the average black student at a TWI earned 9.12 a hour. There are two main points here. First, and most obvious, is the clear reversal of fortunes. Almost as important, however, is that the earning potential for all black students fell, no matter what kind of institution they attended.
This study is relevant to my paper in that it clearly demonstrated a drop in wage-earning potential for students who attended HBCUs between 1972 and 1997, and that the drop was even more severe in contrast to black students who opted to attend TWIs. The greatest difference in campus culture and resources over those twenty-five years, across all institutions of higher learning, was the influx of technology and computing resources (both institutional and personal). Clearly, cooberated with the data from the other studies I have looked at, HBCUs have not been able to keep up with an appropriate technology influx, and this has hurt the learning (and earning) potential of their students. By not having access to the technological resources that their peers at TWIs enjoy, they not only fail to gain access to these resources, but become unattractive to employers who desire their employees to have extensive(or even, in some cases, any) facility and experience with computing facilities and resources.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (term taken from article), or HBCUs, have often struggled to close the Digital Divide in their institutions. Certain schools, such as Elizabeth City State University, and Norfolk State University, have been able to bridge the gap in technology commonly found between HBCUs and their historically White peers through grants and infrastructural changes.
Financial support from outside entities, both private and public, has been critical in raising funds for technology integration on these campuses. Elizabeth City State University has found the greatest success with governmental partnerships, raising nearly 10 Million dollars (US) from entities such as the US Navy and NASA. Norfolk State, which, as a whole has been financially "stagnant or slightly declining," was able to free up additional funding by laying off 20 percent of their IT support personnel and redirecting the funds formerly used to pay those employees' salaries towards the technological infrastructure of the university. While this adds a needed jolt to the system, it is not a viable long-term development strategy.
Administrators at HBCUs are optimistic about the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Recently proposed changes to the act include a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) Technology Grant Program, specifically designed to provide upgrades to technological infrastucture, hardware, software, and both traditional and wireless networking capabilities. The current version of the reauthorization bill recommends 250 million dollars (US) in annual funding for the technological needs of MSIs. While passage of the renewal is promised in the near future, there is currently disagreement as to what governmental entity will manage the program. Currently, the US Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Education are all vying for the administrative duties.
It is clear that there is a great need for infrastructral investment, as well as subsidies for student ownership of computer resources. ; in a report written by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in 2000 (prepared for the US Department of Commerce), fewer than 25 percent of students at HBCUs were found to own their own computer. As a result, students were often found having to wait hours to gain access to university-owned computers (at the library, or in a lab). In a 2007 NAFEO study, 22.5 percent were found to have a "technology loan program" for their students, and only 15 percent were found to offer "subsidies, discounts or other financial incentives to assist students with computer purchases."
Ultimately, it will require a symbiotic relationship between HBCUs and the Federal Government to develop the needed resources fto bridge the Digital Divide. Some examples of this have already florished -- in 2006, Hampton University received funding from the Department of Homeland Security to develop their information technology infrastructure. In turn, they developed "a software visualization program that enables emergency responders to gain access to a visual rendering of large building interiors."
According to the author, these sorts of parnerships will help provide a level of sustainable growth for HBCUs, while ensuring that the governmental coffers that provide these needed technology grants will not run dry.
This article is relevant to my paper in that it provides two specific solutions towards narrowing the digital divide betwen HBCUs and their traditionally white counterparts. In particular, Hampton University's program is interesting to me, as it opens the door for that institution to eligible for Bayh/Dole Act-related contracts in the future.
Outlines the specific proposals in the current version of the proposed 2008 Higher Education Act renewal (orig. passed 1968, last renewed in 1998).
There are two different versions of the bill, one in the US House of Representatives, and one in the US Senate.
The Senate bill was passed in that chamber in 2007 and proposes an annual grant of 250 million dollars (US) for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for technology development, to be administrated by the US Department of Education. The second version of the bill, currently in session at in the House of Representatives, also proposes an annual stipend of 250 million dollars (US), but requests that the administrative duties be taken care of by the US Department of Commerce. Negotiations are ongoing between the two chambers to decide this sticking point, although members of both chambers are optimistic that a compromise can be achieved.
In addition to providing funding specifically aimed at technological improvement, the House bill provides additional funding for overall infrastructural investment, through the HBCU Capital Financing Program. This program, which offers governmental loans to the administrations of HBCUs, is instrumental in developing the overall resources of these universities, as these schools often struggle to develop their endowments and have smaller yields from their capital campaigns. The House bill proposes increasing the annual funding of the CFP from 375 million dollars (US) to 1.1 billion dollars (US).
Additional proposals in the House bill include an increase in the general federal HBCU undergraduate and graduate funding ceiling, which determines the limit that the government may allocate to these programs (an appropriations process determines the actual funds provided). Proponents of these two additional attachments point to the fact that the Bush administration has signaled that they will cut the net funding for HBCUs in the 2009 budget. These attachments are designed to block the administration from implementing that plan.
The bill is not exclusively aimed at HBCUs. Some parts, in fact, are aimed specifically at monitoring the activities of particularly affluent schools. Some points already agreed upon by both chambers in regards to this include an annual report from all US accredited universities in regards to their endowments, and in regards to what measures they are taking to reduce the cost of tuition and other fees to their student bodies. An earlier version of the bill would have required universities to spend at least five (5) percent of their endowments, per annum, towards alleviating the burden of costs to their students, but this was removed after strenuous objection from several major universities.
In addition, the bill requires any university that raises the price of its tuition to provide a detailed report to the Department of Education providing the details and need for such an increase. It is the hope, realistic or not, of the Congress at large that this will help dissuade universities from implementing unneccesary tuition hikes upon their students.
This article is relevant to my paper in that it outlines one specific approach towards solving the digital divide between HBCUs and their white counterparts. While the proposed changes to the bill do not create a permanent solution to lessen the disparity between these institutions (for instance, it does not contain plans to create a self-generating stream of revenue for these colleges and universities), it does provide a much needed injection of funds into the HBCU community, and could potentially provide the seed money to jump-start more long-term programs.
Report from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), prepared for the US Department of Commerce. This study is, quite possibly, the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the use of technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It is a clearinghouse of irrefutable statistics that demonstrate the digital divide between HBCUs and their white counterparts. An HBCU is dfined by the NAFEO as "[a] post-secondary institution founded prior to the the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the primary objective of educatiing blacks." This differs from the US Government definition, as found within the Higher Education Act of 1965. It is notable that the NAFEO study claims 118 HBCUs by this definition (as opposed to the estimated 80 schools that fall under the US Gov't definition).
80 HBCUs participated in the NAFEO study. All demonstrated at least some use of computers on their campus, but, it should be noted, for many schools, this was restricted to only institutionally-owned computers, found in public, time-restricted spaces (library, dorm lounge, etc.). 60 of the responding schools reported the lowest possible response to the survey in terms of student technology ownership, that of "less than 25%" of their students owning a personal computer. This means that 75%of students at these HBCUs only had access to public computers. Even at the remaining 20 schools, none reported higher than 49% of their students owning a computer.
50% of the dorms at HBCUs had some connection to the Internet; however, more than 50% of these were institutionally-owned computers, found in a public area, such as a lobby or lounge computer -- not a situation designed for studying. Furthermore, even when an internet connection was available, it was not particularly rapid -- 88% of responding schools stated that they used T-1 speed lines, or lower for internet connection. In comparison, the 2000 United States Census demonstrates that only 38% of black college students (at any and all schools of US-based schools of higher education) have a home computer, as opposed to 70% of white students. Of those 38%, only 40% have internet access. From a comparison of this data, it is clear that the technology gap between white students and black students overall deepens if those black students attend a HBCU.
(NOTE: For general use, educationally related or not, the disparity between white and black internet users is shocking; the Census shows that only 6% of the estimated 58 million internet users are black.)
This is relevant to my paper in that it shows a demonstrable gap between the computing resources available to students at HBCUs and those available to students at traditionally white institutions. This gap restricts access to information, as well as the means by which access is gained (public vs. private, etc.). This data is from 2000 -- eight years ago. As a result, I am a little wary of it. However, other studies as recent at 2006 continue to cite these statistics, so I trust that the greater academic community at large finds them to still be relevant (or, at the least, that the disparity demonstrated still remains in place).
A 2000 study from the Journal of Black Studies (JBS), examining the conditions of software-based technology use by faculty at one (anonymous) mid-sized, southern Historically Black College and/or University (HBCU). The study also cites data from a study conducted by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in 2000. The NAFEO study, along with this one, reveals a notable gap between the technological resources available to students at HBCUs and those available to their historically-white counterparts. For specifics regarding the NAFEO's findings, please see my citation "Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Assessment of Networking and Connectivity"
The JBS study focuses primarily on the use of software applications by faculty, and how they are implemented by those professors into their curriculum. While basic computer competency skills, such as facility with the Windows operating system (90.3% of responders claimed to use it on a regular basis) and use of Microsoft Word (83% of responders), were relatively high, other software, such as Microsoft Excel (43.9% of responders), and PowerPoint (26.9% of responders), seem surprisingly low. In terms of web-based software, e-mail (87.8% of responders) and general internet use (80.5% of responders) were again high, but education-based software such as Blackboard (24.4% of responders) was minimal at best.
The study finds that this is, largely, an infrastructural and financial problem. Over 50% of the faculty members at the university were
working with computers that met just minimal standards, and, therefore, could not run all software applications available to them. In some cases, the technology itself was restricted -- the University had neglected to purchase a "campus-wide" license for the Blackboard software, and, as a result, not all faculty who desired to use it had access. It is telling that while only 24.4% of responders actually used Blackboard, 73.2% claimed to be familiar with and interested in using the software, if and when a functional license for it was granted to them. Another element that slowed the growth of technology at this school was that there was no full-time technology-development personnel on staff at the university to train faculty members software usage. As a result, the faculty members relied on "word-of-mouth" and each other's assistance to learn how to use new software.
(NOTE: Three years after the study was conducted, in 2003, a follow-up was performed. Data relevant to this shall appear in my paper, but has been omitted for length here.)
In terms of the relevance to my paper, having a specific case study, observing the statistics of a single school, is key to helping me focus my research and put it into real-life, applicable terms. The statistics support the evidence of a significant digital divide in terms of infrastructure, and, furthermore, the limitations regarding the faculty's use and familiarity with software and web-based applications, even when proper computing resources are available. I do have one or two concerns. The data that appears in this study was largely collected in 2000 -- because this data is eight years old, and the field of relevance (the development of technological resources on the campuses of HBCUs) is a rapidly changing one, I fear that the actual statistics today, in 2008, may be significantly different. Nevertheless, this journal article was published in 2006, and I have full confidence that, if these researchers found the data still relevant only two years ago, then the accuracy of it (or at least the disparity shown) has not depreciated much in the time that has elapsed.
This article covers a proposal by Morehouse College president Walter Massey that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) should attempt to raise funds for their own technological development by embracing their rights under the 1980 Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (better known as the Bayh/Dole Act). This law allows the US federal government to engage in exclusive contracts with universities and non-profit businesses, for the purposes of developing and commercializing inventions created under the auspices of federally funded research. Universities may then gain a financial return on their discoveries by filing a claim of ownership. Massey desires that more of these contracts be granted to HBCUs, in the hopes that they can become independent, self-funding entities. He points to the example of Stanford University, and how the research developed there was instrumental to the creation of the Silicon Valley industry. Both US business and Stanford profited, and continue to profit, from that particular partnership. Massey admits that there are flaws in his plan -- primarily that the amount of time and initial financial investment required to see a return is out of the reach for many HBCUs. The administration at other HBCUs, and in particular, by Eric Sheppard, of Hampton University, have proposed a shared "pool" of technological resources, with Bayh/Dole-related profits split between the entities involved. This requires a smaller initial investment, and allows more research to be done over a shorter amount of time.
This is relevant to my paper in that it demonstrates two proposals for making HBCUs technologically competative, and, more importantly, self-reliant in terms of development and technology funding over a long-term period. While the plan itself requires federal (or privately granted) funding to begin, it moves beyond a system where these schools are reliant on outside sources of financial support to grow and evolve their technological needs.
This article describes the aspirations and challenges faced by writer/director Melvin Van Peebles in making his controversial independent film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. He declares his main desire for the film was to “get the Man’s foot out of [his] ass…and out of all our black asses” – in fact he originally titled the film How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass. With that idea in mind, he made a list of requirements necessary to get his message across effectively, keeping in mind his limitations (both economic and social).
Using the basic story of a black man getting “the Man’s” foot out of his ass, Van Peebles listed “givens” in order to prevent himself from writing something he wouldn’t be able to shoot. These givens include: no copping out (a victorious film for the black man), high production value (must look as good as white independent films and thus must be in color), wall-to-wall action and entertainment (to prevent boredom and create a commercial power base so “the Man” might actually fund him if it seemed profitable), half the crew must be third world people, tight security (due to the controversy he was causing), and a flexible script to deal with the unknown variables such as caliber of actors/crew.
With this list of givens, Van Peebles describes his advantages over the major Hollywood studios in this subject matter and the possibilities he could utilize. He understood the black pulse but by seizing it, he might hurt the black cause as well. Since he realized that the more action he had, the more the mainstream audience would let him get away with, he decided to pack “enough action for three movies”, overuse screen effects, and create musical montages as space-filler. Thus, through his economic and social constraints, Van Peebles describes the process in developing Sweetback’s characteristics, characteristics that would become the standard in Hollywood’s blaxploitation wave that followed.
This article is very interesting and valuable in that it describes not only the pre-production process of the film but how those factors and considerations created the style that Hollywood would eventually emulate in their blaxploitation wave - as seen in films such as Shaft and Superfly later that year. As many directors often dream about working outside the confines and restrictions of their studio heads, this shows how one might approach such a project and the precautions one might take. It is a great example of the full auteur process in a manner that deals with a subject matter and goal not necessarily acceptable to all people.
Corliss, Richard. "The 25 Most Important Films on Race: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)." Time Magazine Online. 04 Feb. 2008. . New York: 2008.
In a listing about the 25 most important films on race, Richard Corliss arrives at Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. This time, over 35 years after its release, its context and place in film history is no clearer now than in 1971. While the Black Panthers used it as a mandatory recruiting video (a la the KKK with Birth of a Nation), Ebony Magazine denounced it. The wide range of responses and reactions seemed to be all on one extreme side of the spectrum or the other. However, Corliss acknowledges three matters that are undebateable: nothing had been seen like it before in a commercial theater, it "instantly shifted the dominant tone of black films from liberal to anarchist, from uplifting message movies to fables of ghetto smarts and stickin' it to the man," and it was an "out-of-nowhere hit," creating the new genre of blaxploitation. Corliss explains why Van Peebles himself was the anti-Sidney Poitier, a black hero that was too threatening and sexual to be allowed on screen. Van Peebles didn't care what whites felt about his film and that liberated him in a way that no Hollywood studio film had ever been liberated. The film even used child pornography (with Van Peebles' son Mario having sex with an adult woman) and because of all these factors, Corliss concludes it is impossible to analyze without some sort of bias.
This article is important and relevant because it finally places Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song into its several historical contexts without needing to provide clarity over which context is "right". Corliss understands the polarization of views this film has caused, as evidenced in the opening paragraph: "Libaration or exploitation? Radical politics or violent nihilism? Mature sexuality or child pornography? Modernist narrative or incoherent narrative? Trailblazer or piece of crap?" All of those views are right in a way, because when reviewing a film, the subjective experience is all that matters. You can never be wrong about an opinion on a film, so long as you have some piece of evidence to back up your claims. With an abrasive, in-your-face movie like Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, it seems that everybody was caught off guard and gave their instinctual reaction. In a cinematic climate where critical reviews and trailers create expectations that almost predetermine a filmgoers' reaction to an extent, the release of this film, outside the traditional Hollywood avenues, created a genuine experience for a variety of viewers. As one might expect, the reaction was just as varied.
Bogle, Donald. "Chapter 8: The 1970s Bucks and a Black Movie Boom." Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. Ed. 4. New York: Continuum, 2001. 231-241.
Chapter 8. The 1970s Bucks and a Black Movie Boom (p. 231-266; 231-241 relevant to film)
Film critic and NYU/Penn professor Donald Bogle (whom Spike Lee refers to as the top historian of African American film) segues from a chapter about the rise of black militants into the cinematic expression of that popular African American attitude. He recreates the setting of the early 1970s (Vietnam protests, youth movement, Black Nationalism), yet complains that the old same stereotypes “dressed in new garb to look modern, hip, provocative, and politically ‘relevant’” keep appearing.
The early 1970s marked the “age of the buck”, started by white filmmakers until it is fully explored without Hollywood hindrance by Melvin Van Peebles, the “black movie director and folk hero”, and his film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. After a short Melvin Van Peebles biography, he summarizes the plot of Sweetback, stressing the point that Sweetback does indeed escape the pursuit of the law, meeting “violence with violence in order to triumph over the corrupt white establishment.” This appeals not only to the black audience but to an emerging, revolutionary young white audience as well. The character of Sweetback answers the black public’s call for a serious, sexually assertive black protagonist. After years of asexual characters such as Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, often relegated to subservience and/or comic relief rather than assert themselves against the establishment, Sweetback actually stands up to “the Man”.
The reception of this movie, as Bogle notes, was mixed in spite of the overwhelming commercial success. The older black generation saw it as a “daydream of triumph” while the young militants saw it as a call to revolution. Since Van Peebles made the film under the pretense of pornography, he had pretty much free reign during production and only really felt the wrath of the white establishment during distribution and eventually, public backlash. However, Bogle notes that even though this film seemed revolutionary, at the heart was the same old brutal black buck, f*cking his way out of situations with black and white women and frequently resorting to violence as a means of escape and triumph. His separation even from white counter-culturists like the Hells’ Angels in the film heeded Black Nationalist calls for separatism, striking an urban chord with its depiction of the ghetto. Bogle confides, however, that although the ghetto pimp is glamorized as the protagonist, the film “fails to explain the social conditions that made the pimp such an important figure.” Ultimately, he decides that the film is more of a social documentary than a traditional motion picture, displaying a snapshot of that tense period in race relations, ultimately formulized later that year by Hollywood's Shaft and Superfly into a more film-like structure.
Bogle is accurate in his description of the film's reception and relevance. Although he acknowledges the historical significance of the film, he also notes that it is widely misinterpreted and received over a broad spectrum of opinions. The use of the stereotypical brutal black buck as the protagonist in Sweetback undermines the film's "revolutionary" categorization, but through the overuse of action and "film school aesthetics" applied in the editing room, a profitable genre was born.
This is a very interesting analysis, especially given the fact that it came so soon after the film was released. Riley is in tune with the angry, young Black Nationalists that this film caters to and describes exactly which chords it hits and why. However, the bias of this article is quite evident. Riley seems so excited to be reviewing a film made by a black filmmaker that he has trouble criticizing even the most insignificant of fallacies. His enthusiasm is evident of that of the black populace immediately after the film’s release, and although that enthusiasm will dissipate in the coming years, this article serves as a good barometer to measure the initial impact of Sweetback on the commercial public and film industry.
Call#: Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks PN4882.5 .A47 1998
Series, Survey of Business Owners, and include totals for all U.S. businesses based on the 2002
Economic Census and estimates of business ownership by gender, Hispanic or Latino origin, and
race based on the 2002 SBO. Estimates for equally male-/female-owned firms and publicly held
companies and other businesses whose ownership cannot be classified by gender, Hispanic or
Latino origin, and race are tabulated and published separately.
Today, almost every film receives a big premiere and a grand opening. There is a red carpet and photographers. It is an essential part of the requisite publicity package. The excitement generated by these events attracts people to the theaters and helps boost film revenues. However, at the time Gone with the Wind was produced, it was rare that a film received such fanfare.
Daily Variety provided coverage of the Gone with the Wind premiere and declared it to be one of the biggest premieres of the time. On the front page of the paper, the morning after the premiere, it was reported that the Atlanta "staged the greatest celebration in its history." The theater, the Loew's Grand, was transformed into the Wilkes plantation house. When people passed by the theater they were curious about what was happening and why the facade of the theater had changed. The response which they received generated publicity for the film. Searchlights, which were visible for several miles, let everyone know that it was premiere night. All of the major stars of the film (and others) - Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Carol Lombard and Claudette Colbert attended. The theater held 2,019 people on opening night, each of whom paid $10 per seat, with the money going to charity. Producers were also in attendance. The next week, there was another premiere in New York. Even with all of this hoopla, there were disappointments. Everything was neither perfect nor did it run smoothly. The late nights took a toll on executives. All of the fanfare and glamour got in the way of business. Additionally, there were reports of disappointing initial grosses. This was blamed on pre-Christmas shopping and "psychological overselling" - because of all of the publicity, people assumed that there would be long lines and therefore did not even bother to come to the theater. Despite some "brief hiccups" the movie went on to gross $390 million worldwide.
This article is very informative, revealing the inner workings of the industry and psyche of the public at the time. Although society has evolved and experienced many changes, much has stayed the same.
It is amazing that a film could be so successful 70 years ago when there were far fewer venues for promotion and fewer theaters to generate a large gross profit. This article also reveals that the formula for a successful film is very similar to today - the celebrities, the publicity, the promotion, the premiere and the fanfare. It is a formula as old as the movies themselves.
Margaret Mitchell had been working as a reporter for a newspaper when she fell from a horse and was forced to resign. She was confined to her small, one-bedroom apartment which she nicknamed "The Dump." Ms. Mitchell was given a typewriter as a gift in order to occupy herself within the confines of her house. She was told to write "what she knew." Secretly, she began to write a book. Given the endless flow of people and friends who came through her apartment, she found it very difficult to hide the manuscript. It seemed unlikely that the novel would ever be published because she kept it a secret from anyone who would be able to publish it for her. However, Mitchell's friend who worked at a publishing company discovered parts of the novel in Mitchell's home. The friend informed her boss, Harold Latham, of the "masterpiece" she had found. Latham flew to Atlanta and questioned Mitchell regarding the novel. However, Mitchell did not want to turn in the novel to the publisher. She claimed that it was "lousy, and she was ashamed of it." In a brilliant use of reverse psychology, Mitchell's friend said to her, "well, I would never expect that you would write a good novel, you don't take life seriously enough." Mitchell was angered by this, raced home and immediately gave it over to Latham. She said "take it before I change my mind." Latham read the novel and changed the name of the main character to Scarlet. This was the inception of one of the most successful novels in history. Gone with the Wind was finally published on June 30, 1936 and had almost just as much impact on Atlanta as the actual events that were detailed in the book. It sold more copies than any other book except for the Bible.
This is a revealing source which details the way in which the phenomenally successful novel, Gone with the Wind, came into existence. It is amazing to think that its author thought that her creation was "lousy." Additionally, it is fascinating how a true phenomenon can be born out of seemingly mundane events and thoughts. One of the greatest, best-selling books of all time is a product of a leisure project on a typewriter in someone's living room. Mitchell did not sit down with the intent of writing a phenomenon; she was just trying to keep herself busy when she could no longer work as a newspaper reporter.
One most consider the novel, Gone with the Wind, as a precursor to the film. It is important to understand where the novel came from and the thought process of its author. It is further fascinating that the novel was as huge a success as the film. Often, a book is successful and interesting, while the movie version of the novel is not. Margaret Mitchell wrote a novel and spawned a film that entertained in its time, continues to be of interest as a period piece, and will continue to entertain many generations to come.
This article addresses the issue of slavery which was pervasive in the South during the Civil War. The idea of emancipation was a constantly debated topic within Civil War society. Some wanted the slaves freed while others wanted the Southern institution protected form any intervention. This article from Harper's Weekly is unique in that it is a truly primary source, an actual firsthand article from a real publication of Civil War times. The article was published on December 7, 1861.
The beginning of the article suggests that it is the President and his Generals who must determine what effect the war will have on the South. While there had been no formal change to the policy of slavery at the time of the article's publication, no generals (with the exception of one) permitted "slave hunting" any longer. Additionally, labor was being performed by whites as well as blacks. The article predicts that only time will tell what is to come. The article goes on to say that the Southerners would view a decree of emancipation as laughable. The South sees the entire government and the North as abolitionists. Therefore, an emancipation decree would not be unexpected. The only way to enforce emancipation is through the army. In essence, wherever the Northern army dominates is where abolition would take hold. However, when a general needs more men, he will reconsider his proclamation stating that slaves cannot fight. "Necessity is a most successful schoolmaster."
The article goes on to elaborate on the harsh realities of slavery and emancipation. People acted as they pleased and change was rarely effected without the strong arm of a gun. As a firsthand source, the Harper's Weekly articles are invaluable in their revelation of significant issues often overlooked in history books. Although the article may be biased it is still a highly realistic point of view of the war.
The views held by Southerners regarding slavery during the Civil War are a harsh reality that was pervasive at the time and formed the basis of the Gone with the Wind story. This article provides the reader with additional insight into the characters and types of people who lived during the time of Gone with the Wind and provided the framework for the story that continues to engage generations.
Gone with the Wind is a film that continues to be relevant because of the time period portrayed, its social influences, and overall importance in the history of film. The release of Gone with the Wind on DVD is significant for a number of reasons. The enhancement of the actual film and the special features added make the DVD an important addition to any film library and just as significant as the film's initial release.
Included in the DVD's content is an in depth interview with Olivia de Hallivand, who plays Melanie. She was nominated for an Academy Award, however, she lost to Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy. (There is speculation that the reason McDaniel won was as compensation for not being invited to the movie's Atlanta premiere.) In de Hallivand's interview, she reveals the chaos which occurred behind the scenes during the production of the film. For example, directors and writers came and went with alarming frequency.
The most impressive part of the DVD, which makes the DVD "vital and gorgeous", is the attempt to revert to the quality of the original Technicolor process in which the film was shot. The evolution of Technicolor is a significant facet of film history. Gone with the Wind was to be the test of the new Technicolor technology. The production of the film centered around brilliance and contrast of color as well as intricate scenery shots. Much of the original impact of the film lay in the quantity and quality of color schemes throughout the production. As the technology of film progressed, Technicolor was deemed old fashioned and new technology improved upon the once spectacular visions produced by the once unique color delivery system. The Gone with the Wind DVD has resurrected the original screen's Technicolor version of the film.
I feel that it is of great significance and interest for today's audience to see the film just as it was presented in its original form. The use of Technicolor had a significant impact on the audience of the time. Every aspect of a film contributes to the way in which an audience views, comprehends, and appreciates the film. With all the technology available today for production quality enhancement, it is important to have the ability to revert back to the original film version and screen it in its purest form. With every generation producing new audiences with interest in the film, the release of the DVD has made this important piece of film history readily accessible to an even wider audience. The attraction of the DVD lies in its special features. For film buffs and people who are knowledgeable about the history of film and production values, the remastering of Gone with the Wind in Technicolor is an important feature which, perhaps, trumps all of the other aspects of the DVD.