sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote 2017-06-22 10:14 am (UTC)

And what takes the horror of it above and beyond is you made what it could have been sound so positive before the reveal.

I would love to have seen nothing but the version I described. I am fairly confident (see reply to [personal profile] nineweaving) that when the film was released early in 1930, it's the version most white audiences would have seen. The racism would not have interfered with their enjoyment either because it was not visible to them, as it matched and reinforced their ideas about the world, or if they did notice it, because it was not at odds with their ideas of heroism and sympathy. They could focus on the white protagonists and their redemptive love story and the rest was noise. I can be disappointed, but considering that things like Wonder Bar (1934) were still in Hollywood's future, I am not really surprised. It's just that between then and now the Racist Douchecanoe Fairy took up flagrant residence in a substantial chunk of the dialogue and the central engine of the plot and not only was it something I could not tune out, I don't think it would have been healthy for me to be able to.

And if we're looking at the toxic, then I guess the inability to distinguish between cowardice and PTSD has to be part of the mix, that someone can't just quietly heal, they must be seen to triumph and vanquish their fears.

The script does distinguish the two, so I apologize if I did not articulate that sufficiently—it more than once makes the explicit point that Johnny can't help being triggered, although he can control whether he drinks himself to blackout to deal with it. His PTSD is not a moral failing or a lack of nerve and Josie bites McEwen's head off when he insinuates that it is. That said, I agree one hundred percent that the film forfeits any mental health cred it may have gained with that face-your-fears-once-and-for-all, there-you-go, cured-now finale; it's a great piece of magic, but nope. I much preferred the undramatic, day-by-day coming back to life of the eight weeks they lived together. I would have been fine if that was just the movie, too.

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