"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, January 14, 2022

Racism of the past

I watched a terrific old western tonight on Prime Video. The Unforgiven, starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn, directed by John Huston. And by terrific, I mean terrifically racist. The main plot point in that Audrey Hepburn, who everybody thinks is white, is actually a Kiowa Indian - a bonda fide redskin Injun - quel horroreux!!!

The most appalling point of the movie being that after the white saviors have rallied around to fight off the wicked white racists that won't accept the Indian girl raised white, they defend at gunpoint and with little regard for life (they shoot one Kiowa making a peaceful approach just to make sure they are being taken seriously) the notion that she should ever be seen as a Kiowa, as if this would be the end of the world. 

Times change, and thank God for that. This movie, like many others made in it's day, would be about ten minutes long if set in 2022. 

Imagine if you will, the script for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in 2022:

Kate Hepburn: Well, our daughter is  bringing her fiance to dinner tonight

Spencer Tracy: Swell, what's he like

Hepburn: Well, he's a bit old for her...oh and he's a handsome doctor and he's black

Tracey: how much older?

As much as I appreciate the anti-racist sentiment in some of these movies from the '60s they seem a little self congratulatory sometimes for what today passes as basic decent behaviour, which I suppose is progress of a sort.