Consciously or not, the film has a racist, white supremacist message, even though Griffith, until his death, defended it by saying he was not being critical of the blacks but of the whites who let the Southern blacks “go astray.” Griffith could not see beyond his Southern upbringing that such a position still saw the African-American as a race that needed to be contained, segregated, or excluded altogether (one of the shot’s that was excised through censorship pressure was the original ending which had the African-Americans being shipped back to Africa). Griffith was a product of his time and Southern culture, yet the film was hugely successful and popular and, notwithstanding the noted pockets of resistance, captured the imagination (or at least the pocket book) of Americans all across the land. However, this does not mean that people went to see it because it was racist. Or that the majority of people who went to see it condoned its racist ideology. After all, it is hard, if not impossible, to comprehend the myriad of reasons why people flock to one film and not another. Hence we should not automatically assume everyone that went to see the film condoned it. If you see a film today that has questionable content, does that mean you are condoning the questionable content? Did everyone who saw James Cameron’s True Lies necessarily accept its racist portrayal of Arabs, or misogynist gender politics? We must also keep in mind what the winds of history does to social mores. will seem reprehensible to an audience of today, but imagine what an audience 90 years from our future may think about a film representing an ethnic, gender, sexual, or racial stereotype made today!


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