Hollywood was just getting its glamorous start in the early 1900s, and Southerners played a surprisingly important role in the fledgeling industry. Notable southern producers and corrupt movie theater moguls helped shape the growing industry, just as their subject matter shaped perceptions of the South and propagated racial stereotypes.
“Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind” were two of the most profitable films of all time, and also some of the most culturally significant. Their portrayal of slaves and black people was used both as fodder for white supremacist movements and inspiration for future civil rights leaders intent on correcting false narratives. More recent cinematic creations like “Moonlight” present a more nuanced perspective on black life.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Robert Jackson, professor of English at the University of Tulsa and author of “Fade In, Crossroads: A History of the Southern Cinema” (Oxford University Press/2017.)