Wednesday, February 28, 2007

C.S.A: The Confederate States of America

I saw this Mockumentary last year at the Athens Film Festival, and it was the highlight of the week for me. This movie is hilariously funny, but also makes you feel very dirty for laughing. The basic premise is the question of what would have happened if the Confederacy won the Civil War. The cornerstone is of course, slavery, but the movie also addresses many other "what ifs." Despite some probable inaccuracies, it paints a very entertaining and poignant commentary.

This movie is certainly to be taken more as entertainment than historical fact, simply for the fact that none of it actually happened. After the Confederacy won the Civil War, they continued on and occupied the Union. Even though it seems unlikely that slavery would have continued even to today, in the movie it did. The movie discusses potential changes in outcome to events of the 20th century. For example, the Holocaust was averted because the president of the CSA convinced Hitler that the Jews would be more useful as slaves. In America even, Jewish people were sequestered on reserves on Long Island. These alternate scenarios are somewhat comparable to the successfull book "Freakonomics", which discusses alternative reasons for various economic conditions.

My favorite part was that it was shown as if it were on TV. This meant frequent commercial interruptions. The products advertised were, of course, all either pertaining to slaves (the Slave Shopping Network) or of an extremely racist nature. The sad part, we later find out, is that most of the products advertised actually existed, many as little as twenty years ago. These sections were actually much more powerful than the fake history. These showed that even a century after slavery was abolished, racism was still potent.

The movie makes an attempt at actually backing up its claims of what would have happened, citing plans that Southerners in power had for after the war, and even documents that gave validity to the Confederacy even being able to win. It is interesting how even the small details were addressed. Eugenics not only became acceptable, but was never debunked. Lincoln, one of our most beloved presidents, died at an old age in exile. He was even subjected to parody in the first motion picture. Writer/Director Kevin Wilmott seems to leave no subject untouched.

It's okay to laugh at this movie. It really is- it's supposed to be funny. I laughed, and that was in a sold-out movie theater. But I must warn you- you will feel awkward, and you will think that you shouldn't be laughing. The thing that Wilmott does better than anything else, is that he pulls no punches. The movie is extremely offensive, and that's why it works. If it were any tamer, it would be almost more offensive. This way, there is no chance it would be interpreted as serious. It's an obvious satire. I feel that this movie is worth watching, maybe even more than once. It will make you feel dirty, and it will make you feel like a bad person, but it's oh so good.


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