Birth of a nation

DeSantis Movie Night

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency next week, but he’s already starting out way behind the one man standing in his way to the Republican nomination, Hair Fuhrer himself, Donald Trump.

DeSantis is way behind Trump in the polls but it’s early in the primary season and things can change, but they have to change a LOT for DeSantis to be competitive with Trump and they gotta start changing soon, like yesterday. And he’s not going to win the presidency by going after abortion, history lessons, Disney, or with legislation that goes after gay and trans kids. Sure, that could work in the GOP primaries but not in the general election.

Florida’s Department of Education (sic) is investigating a teacher who showed her class the Disney film that features a gay character. Would there be an investigation if it wasn’t a Disney movie? Who knows. Maybe.

The teacher showed it to her fifth grade class and a parent lodged a complaint. The teacher says this movie focuses on humans’ relationship to the environment, which was why she chose to show it to her class after a section on ecosystems, plants and animals. She said a subplot about a boy having a crush on another boy never crossed her mind before screening the film.

She’s right. Strange World is about the environment as well as the family structure, specifically from son to father to grandfather, what they have in common and their differences which doesn’t even involve the gay thing. The son appears to be more like his grandfather which his father has issues with but they all learn to accept each others differences and yadda yadda yadda, it’s a Disney film and there’s a lesson in it and everybody grows.

The part about the kid being gay is a subplot and isn’t a factor in the main story. If his crush was swapped from a guy to a girl, it wouldn’t have changed anything. But, it shouldn’t have to be swapped out because a Florida mom gets her bloomers in a twist. The subplot is a sly way of normalizing the fact that people are gay. It’s a sly way of showing its acceptance. By the way, the gay kid’s parents are also a mixed-race couple and that has nothing to do with the plot either. There’s no consternation in the film about race or being gay. The greatest dilema in the film is about saving an environment over one’s own legacy and fame while repairing relationships.

I love animated movies. The most original plots in today’s movies are in animations (except for sequels). When you get tired of all the remakes and sequels, go watch an animated movie. I especially love Disney and Pixar movies and trust them on their reputations alone. If I really like it, I will watch it about 15 times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Wreck-It Ralph. Now, Strange World is not Disney’s best but it’s a good movie. I’ve only watched it once but will probably watch it again at some point. I would recommend it for kids. After the hullabaloo over it in Florida, I think every kid should see it.

Strange World is a wholesome movie but it has a lot that Republicans hate. It’s environmental, there’s a mixed-race family, there’s a gay kid and all that’s missing are abortions, immigrants, and a war on Christmas.

It’s the kind of movie that the new board of DeSantis-picked goons that’s to control Disney’s special district wouldnt approve of. DeSantis said he hopes his board will influence Disney’s content to be more wholesome for families as he sees it. He would probably hate Strange World if he saw it. But Strange World is a family movie. It’s all about the family. The problem DeSantis would have with “Strange World” is that it doesn’t teach hate, which is what he and the Republican Party are all about.

If DeSantis was to personally pick a movie to show to fifth graders, like he picked the board of goons, he’d probably pick The Birth of a Nation.

The school district sent a letter to parents alerting them that a teacher showed Strange World to her students and that it would never be shown to their students again because it may violate Florida’s “Parental Bill of Rights” law…you know….”Don’t Say Gay.” But, would The Birth of a Nation violate any state laws?

The Birth of a Nation is actually a landmark film and in 1992, the Library of Congress deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Roger Ebert says it’s a “great movie that teaches evil.”

The film was made in 1915 and was the first non-serial 12-reel film ever made. It was shown in two parts with an intermission (it’s longer than Avenger Endgame). It was the first film to have a musical score for an orchestra, despite being a silent film. It pioneered closeups and fadeouts. It was the first to use hundreds of extras. It was the very first movie to be screened in the White House (Woodrow Wilson). The day after Wilson watched it in the White House, it was screened for the entire Supreme Court and the majority of Congress in a Washington hotel ballroom where the audience reportedly cheered. It was the most commercially successful film ever made up to that point. And…it also gave rebirth to the Ku Klux Klan.

Ya see, the KKK had diminished since it’s creation after the Civil War. The Birth of a Nation, which is taken from the book, The Clansmen, shows the KKK as a heroic force needed to save American values from Blacks, who it portrays as stupid and rapey. Most of the Black characters are played by white people in black face. The film has been described as “the most reprehensibly racist film in Hollywood history.”

Most of the Confederate statues being taken down in the south that Republicans are trying to preserve were erected in 1915 and shortly after The Birth of a Nation was released. What a coincidence, eh?

There were protests against the movie organized by the NAACP, but America seemed to love it. The Los Angeles Times called it the “greatest movie ever made.” Riots broke out, not from Black Americans but by white people attacking Blacks. During a scene in the film of the white heroine being pursued by the main Black character, an audience member fired a gun at the screen trying to kill the Black character (that was probably in the south).

The rebirth of the KKK began in 1915 with a cross burning at Stone Mountain thanks to the success of The Birth of a Nation. Historian John Hope Franklin wrote that if had it not been for The Birth of a Nation, the Klan might not have been reborn. The Klan was reborn and then all those Confederate statues went up. writes, “There is no doubt that Birth of a Nation played no small part in winning wide public acceptance” for the KKK, and that throughout the film “African Americans are portrayed as brutish, lazy, morally degenerate, and dangerous.” David Duke used it to recruit members to the KKK in the 1970s. Tommy Tuberville probably loves it.

But, there are no gays in it and it doens’t promote whites poorly in history. DeSantis and Republicans in Florida would find more to be angry about in Strange World than in The Birth of a Nation. And this is where we are today.

We are in a strange world, indeed.

Music note: I listened to the Foo Fighters while coloring this.

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