The 1915 silent drama directed by D.W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation, is undoubtedly one of the most controversial movies in the history of America. The movie dramatized the Civil War and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. The movie is a narration of the Civil War through the eyes of two families that live as neighbors: the Stonemans, from the North, who support the Union, and the Camerons from the South, who support the Confederacy (Griffith 1915).
The film attracted severe criticism for its outright racist outlook. Its portrayal of American Blacks was attacked far and wide, and the movie was even banned in some states. The depiction of Southern Blacks as people, who were deficient in intelligence but aggressively sexual, produced an outcry throughout the United States. Furthermore, the movie was seen more racist by the fact that roles that were supposed to be acted by black people were acted by whites in blackface. The Black people who featured in the movie only played minor roles.
The outcry that was caused by the scenes within the movie was so strong. The movie dramatizes the Ku Klux Klan during its inception. Actually, Ben Cameron, a chief character in the play, organizes the formation of the outlawed sect when he loses faith in the ability of the Southern Blacks to run the State properly (Griffith 1915).
The movie Birth of a Nation had serious implications on whoever would watch it. In fact, it has widely been touted as the movie brought a lot of racist tolerance among the political elite. The theme of the movie was questionable after the many protests that were brought about by the movie, and yet the movie was still watched in the highest office in the land- the White House.
While the White House should be a symbol of unity and nationalism, the movie “The Birth of a Nation” stretched the concept of nationalism to its limits. The political elite came from the North, and they were viewed as docile and unable to act (Filmsite Movie Review, 2013). The blacks on the South were depicted as mindless creatures that did not appreciate the intellect or the abilities of the people of the North. The political elite must have found the idea of looking down upon Blacks welcomed among some portion of their population, and this is how it chiefly contributed to racism among the political elite.
The completely varied reaction the movie engendered among different state in the United States underscores the need to have a National body regulating civil rights, rather than independent State bodies. This would enable the national body to make matters of civil rights to be nationally acceptable, hence enhance consistency in matters of civil rights across the U.S. This is because one issue has the capacity to engender totally different reactions in one state from the reactions it would engender in another state. Therefore, for the entire United States to be Uniform, the idea of having a national body to regulate civil rights is mostly welcomed.
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