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January 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Harriet E. Margolis" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Jan 1994 17:33:32 +1200
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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        I responded almost immediately to Roberta's original request with
Gaylene Preston's RUBY AND RATA, an NZ film featuring the kiwi equivalent
of Jessica Tandy and with some interesting parallels to but also
differences from DRIVING MISS DAISY.
        I've been holding off on responding to all of the comments about
the South, and Jews, and older women generated by the original reference to
DRIVING MISS DAISY, in part because I thought I should read them all.
That's grown increasingly difficult as I have learned not to read any
messages from 2 people on the list  who have proven themselves to be
consistently offensive.  I don't agree with the person in Montana who
writes that offensiveness results from studying theory, but I do agree that
this list has suddenly become uncharacteristically unprofessional and
        Henry's comments, though, echo some of my own feelings, and
feelings I've had for some time.  I too am a native southerner--from North
Carolina, the Southern part of heaven.  I am also Jewish.  When I lived in
NC, I *never, ever* though I could become a chauvinist for the South.
Living in Southern Indiana was OK, even what I saw in South Florida ("the
further south you go, the further north you've gotten") was bearable, but
the worst place I've ever lived in was in the northern ("white flight")
suburbs of Detroit.  Bigoted?  You'd better believe it, and blind to it.
        To quote Henry:
>   Are southerners close minded towards outsiders? Look, I live in Boston
>right now and there aren't many other places in the world more close-minded
>to outsiders. Maybe southern resistance to outsiders has something to do with
>the snobbery and arrogance of people who come into other regions with the
>assumption that all southerners are dumb hicks.
>  Are southerners racist? Most of us from the south have had to confront our
>racism from day one, we live in a place where the history of racism is ever
>present. When I was going to school in the midwest, I encountered forms of
>racism that were so overt and so naive that it made my mouth drop.  . . .
>Where I came from,
>you probably wouldn't do something like that if you had an ounce of humanity,
>but if you did, you would have known what you were doing and meant it.
>   I don't mean to be flaming other regions. All I want to suggest is that
>the south is being presented here as a scapegoat for national problems and it
> has been used that way for more than a hundred years.
>--Henry Jenkins
        Consider this.  Several people have mentioned STRANGERS IN GOOD
COMPANY (the name the film was screened under in the States).  Wonderful
film in many ways, but the one younger character becomes a target of
racism.  Do we write off the film for that reason?  At least I see her as a
target of racism.  In my opinion, we don't write off that film.  In my
opinion, DRIVING MISS DAISY is a good film in many ways.  Some of us
probably even happen to identify with those characters.  After all, many of
us do have aged parents reaching that stage in their lives.  Whether we are
Jewish or not, or Southern or not, or African American or not.
        De gustibus non disputandum, and all that.  Do we need to return to
the discussion of aesthetics--universal experience, identification with
others through vicarious experience, and all that?  The point of that
experience, as I recall, is to learn tolerance of others.
        Yes, sounds like we need to return to something exactly like that.
Dr Harriet Margolis
Department of Theatre & Film
Victoria University of Wellington
P.O.Box 600 Wellington, New Zealand.
Telephone 64-4 4715359,  Facsimile 64-4 4955090