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Zooming In On The History of Southern Cinema

Gone With The Wind (1939) - Vivien Leigh & Hattie McDaniel
Rossano aka Bud Care
Flickr - Creative Commons -
Gone With The Wind (1939) - Vivien Leigh & Hattie McDaniel

Hollywood was just getting its glamorous start in the early 1900s, and Southerners played a surprisingly important role in the fledgeling industry. Notable southern producers and corrupt movie theater moguls helped shape the growing industry, just as their subject matter shaped perceptions of the South and propagated racial stereotypes. 

“Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind” were two of the most profitable films of all time, and also some of the most culturally significant. Their portrayal of slaves and black people was used both as fodder for white supremacist movements and inspiration for future civil rights leaders intent on correcting false narratives. More recent cinematic creations like “Moonlight” present a more nuanced perspective on black life.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Robert Jackson, professor of English at the University of Tulsa and author of “Fade In, Crossroads: A History of the Southern Cinema” (Oxford University Press/2017.) 

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Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.