Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror on TCM Thursday in March

Every Thursday in March, Turner Classic Movies will be airing "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror." The series focuses on classic films that when seen today can be problematic and even offensive. The series will examine the history of these films and examine the cultural context of these movies. Ultimately, there will be a discussion on how these films can be reframed so that they can be kept alive by future generations.

Each episode will discussed by a team of TCM's current hosts, which include Ben Mankiewicz, Dave Karger, Alicia Malone, and Professor Jacqueline Stewart. Among the films airing on "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror" are Gone with the Wind (1939), Gunga Din (1939), The Jazz Singer (1927), The Searchers (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and The Children's Hour (1961).

I have to say that I am very happy that Turner Classic Movies is doing this series. I think most classic film fans are aware that many of our favourite films contain moments that are problematic. All of my friends and acquaintances find Mickey Rooney's portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's extremely offensive. I can't think of any of us that are happy with the "Abraham" sequence in Holiday Inn (1942).  That having been said, there are still those movies that are problematic, yet some classic film fans don't understand why these films might offend some of us. As someone of Cherokee blood, I find the portrayal of Indigenous people in The Searchers extremely offensive in that it is stereotypical and the Native characters are underdeveloped. That having been said, I have had to explain to fellow classic film fans why I am uncomfortable with the movie. This is where discussions, such as the ones that will take place in "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror" can be very helpful.

The only caveat I have with "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror" is that I wish that in addition to the TCM hosts they had guest hosts of various ethnicities to discuss the various movies. For instance, it would be nice if for The Searchers they had Wes Studi or Tantoo Cardinal to discuss the film from an Indigenous point of view. For another example, it would be nice to have Priyanka Chopra or Aziz Ansari on hand to discuss Gunga Din.

Regardless, I am very proud that TCM is airing "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror." I do not believe that movies should be removed from circulation (as Disney has done with Song of the South), but I do think such movies should be discussed whenever they are shown. Indeed, I would love to see "Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror" become a regular series where each week one movie is shown and discussed, albeit with guest hosts in addition to TCM's regular hosts.

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