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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Divergent Views Converge on our Military History
In Response To: Re: BOYCOTT "COLD MOUNTAIN" ()

Hello Bennie:

Thanks for your two postings regarding the film "Cold Mountain"...one critical of the film and one not so.

These different opinions magnify the fact that there are centuries of African American military history to share, post and discuss... " Divergent Views Converge on Our Military History." If only the global eye of the internet focused more on this site and other pages of Afrigeneas, we might see more films and books that include us as strategic participants in world and national history. Instead, we are continually shoved to the sidebars of history.

My comments are shaped as a marketer and publicist and my concern for the memory of our ancestors who actively participated in their self-liberation during the Civil War.

It's important that we continue to raise our voices and concerns against any depiction of our history as being less than valid or inaccurate. The problem with our raised voices against the almost obliteration of African Americans in "Cold Mountain" is that we came upon it all too late. Our voices are drowned out by the Mighty Marketing Machine of Hollywood. Believe me, the producers and directors knew perfectly well and anticipated criticism for barely mentioning African Americans in a film about the Civil War. After their market research...whose story is it anyway?... what audience are we trying to reach? who will pay to see it? ...the film's producers, directors and staff reached out to a melange of Civil War consultants to insure the film's accuracy...and to stem the protests that Blacks should have had a larger presence.

So how does Hollywood position a film with one historically looming flaw? In the marketing and public relations world, the strategy is called "Branding." The branding statements for Cold Mountain consist of a theme and variation of "A love story that takes place DURING the Civil War." For critics they underline ....this is NOT "A love story ABOUT the Civil War." Check out the quotes from the cast, the producers and directors.

The next step is to invite a melange (again) of folks of all colors to preview the film about "A love story that takes place DURING the Civil War." The results were glowing reviews.

None of the above is to take away from the brilliance of the actors and the Weinstein brothers. I just wish that they had visited this Forum. Or more importantly consulted you.

There are thousands if not millions of people of African descent who have never and will never receive the recognition for their heroism. The memory of nameless female and male contrabands who delivered strategic intelligence to the Union Army and the brave men of the USCT continue to be smothered by romantic tales of southern gray boys. Our ancestors' participation and self-liberation in the Civil War as you often observe, Bennie, defines the history and spirit of Africans in America. Their legacy inspired men and women of future wars to defend the country that they shaped and built since the 16th century. None of them should be left out of history.

No amount of defensive "high art film speak" should ever romance the cold cold heartless mountain of American slavery history and the soldiers who defended it. Tragically the film "humanizes" the active and sometimes passive (??) participants in our ancestors' enslavement and becomes just another apologia for its past and present day defenders.

Thanks again for sharing the letters with the Afrigeneas Military Forum. No matter what our position, the postings from family historians to published authors resonate with collective appreciation for the role of African Americans in military history.

My best,

K Wyer Lane

"History never lies, only the people who interpret it."


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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