Wednesday, September 25, 2013

childhood obsessions: Gone With the Wind.

(this is a special edition of the childhood obsessions series: it's Banned Books week, so what better time to talk about my obsession with a certain banned book and the movie that followed?)

I have yet another story about yet another childhood obsession. Is it just me, or did anyone else leap from obsession to obsession in their younger years? As I’ve grown older, I tend not to obsess as much (thank goodness – it was exhausting), but I certainly look back with fondness at my past obsessions.

I can’t remember exactly when my fondness (to put it lightly) for Gone With the Wind came about, but I know it was sometime during sixth grade and lasted well into seventh. Like many of my entertainment-based childhood obsessions (Titanic, Michael Jackson), this one was shared by my friend Sarah. She was the one who sat me down and told me that we were going to watch this three-hour epic whether I liked it or not. And I liked it – I LOVED it.

Gone With the Wind sucked me in easily. For one thing, I wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara. I was a pudgy preteen in the Midwest – Scarlett O’Hara was a beautiful Southern belle who lived in a mansion and had men falling over her. 
Check out that house.
Her life was so different than mine – not that I had any strong desire to have men falling over me, as it seemed a bit tiresome – and at the time, I figured that anything was more interesting than life in small town South Dakota.

Plus, Scarlett O’Hara herself was so unlike anyone I had ever met – she was downright vicious (trying to steal husbands, spreading rumors, manipulating everyone around her into getting what she wants), but she was also terribly plucky. She delivered her friend’s baby (yes, the friend whose husband she was trying to steal), fled Atlanta as it burned, and worked her tail off to keep her family plantation from being sold. 
She even made a dress out of curtains.
Scarlett O’Hara is quite a character, and it was simply amazing to me that she did what she did.

And then there’s Rhett Butler.
He was smooth, and he knew what he wanted – and that was Scarlett O’Hara. Personally, I never understood why Rhett was so keen on Scarlett – she was kind of a brat who was clearly in love with someone else. But then, she was a challenge. Love stories are not my cup of tea, but this one is chock-full of sass, hardships, infidelities, clashing personalities, and no happy ending. That’s my kind of love story.
And plenty of scowls.
After my first viewing of Gone With the Wind, I plunged headfirst into all things Gone With the Wind. I received the VHS for a birthday gift, and I practically wore it out. Sarah and I watched Gone With the Wind whenever we could (when we weren’t watching Titanic, that is) and rated Scarlett’s dresses. 
This was my favorite.
(I knew you were curious.)
I looked up all the Gone With the Wind trivia that I could muster (did you know they had to tint Vivien Leigh’s eyes in post-production, as Scarlett O’Hara had green eyes? did you know the hoops they had to jump through to allow Rhett Butler’s famous line “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” to pass the censors?)

To fill out my Gone With the Wind obsession, I tackled where it all began: Margaret Mitchell’s novel. I know it’s a little shameful that I didn’t read the book until well after I’d seen the movie, but I loved it just as much. Reading Gone With the Wind had all sorts of unforeseen benefits: in addition to gaining a ton of Accelerated Reader points, I learned that a great percentage of the questions in the literature and arts/culture sections of 1980s Trivial Pursuit have to deal with Gone With the Wind. I played all sorts of 1980s Trivial Pursuit with my family, and my strange amount of Gone With the Wind knowledge helped me win many a game.

In seventh grade English class, we were asked to write book reports. Until that point, I had never written a book report – hard to believe, but it just wasn’t on the Arlington curriculum, I guess. These book reports weren’t your regular book reports, though – they had to be CREATIVE. You would choose some kind of crafty book report (I made a pop-up book for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a board game for a book that I can no longer remember) and go from there. I chose to make a Gone With the Wind scrapbook. This was an excellent excuse for me to print out a whole ton of Gone With the Wind photos from the internet (not to mention all the copies I made on the school copiers) – it was for a book report, after all.

My Gone With the Wind scrapbook was totally bizarre – I had written a fake letter from Scarlett’s first husband Charles from the front lines of the Civil War, and I had taped a fake wedding ring onto some computer paper. I also stuck in some fake flowers (writing that they were from Scarlett’s wedding bouquet) along with all sorts of photocopied movie stills. It wasn’t my best effort, but honestly: a book report scrapbook?

My Gone With the Wind kick wasn’t quite as strong as Titanic (while I can no longer recite the lines to Gone With the Wind, Sarah and I found out last year that the entire script of Titanic remains permanently ingrained in our memories), it was a whole lot less embarrassing. My primary reason for loving Titanic at the time was that I had the hots for Leonardo DiCaprio. Don’t judge me: I bet you did, too. I loved Gone With the Wind for everything: the actors, the plot, the costuming, and the fact that they pulled off this huge film achievement – in color! – in 1939. It was hard to believe that this was (at the time) a sixty year old movie – it was all brand new and wonderful to me.

So ends the tale of yet another childhood obsession, and there are still more where this came from. I hope you’re still enjoying all these childhood obsession stories, because I’m getting a kick out of telling them. And if you aren’t?

(Just kidding! I do care; I just wanted to end with that. You guys know I love you!)

No comments:

Post a Comment