Birth of a Nation

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Date: 1920

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Film Video


Birth Nation.jpg

Artist: D.W. Griffith

Confronting Bodies: Citizens

Dates of Action: 1920

Location: United States

Description of Artwork: The silent film, Birth of a Nation. "The story fell into two parts: The first is a conventional enough narrative of the Civil War; the second is a view of postwar reconstruction as seen very much from a native Southerner's point of view.The story forsook narrative for controversy when it portrayed every black as animalistic, moronic and lusting after women, while the overtly racist Ku Klux Klan appeared not only saviors of the South but of the North as well." Jonathon Green, The Encyclopedia of Censorship, Facts on File, pg. 21

The Incident: The film "...was banned in more than a dozen localities ( and furthermore has been the most banned film in American history) because of its white supremacist sympathies, racist stereotypes, and glorification of the Ku Klux Klan..." Sex, Sin, and Blasphemy, Marjorie Heins, pg. 40

Results of Incident: The NAACP continues to fight against it.

Source: Sex, Sin and Blasphemy, Marjorie Heins, New Press,'93, NYC