Magazine article American Libraries

The Perils of Birthin' a Parody

Magazine article American Libraries

The Perils of Birthin' a Parody

Article excerpt

Who can forget that moment in the movie version of Gone With the Wind when Prissy shrieks, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies," and the righteous indignation on Scarlett O'Hara's face as she slaps Prissy and lets her know just how stupid she is?

For a long time, I have fantasized about a new version of GWTW, one in which Prissy responds to Miss Scarlett not by cowering but by letting her have it right in the chops.

At last an author, Alice Randall, has written a book that might let us have that long-overdue vicarious revenge--except. that U.S. District Judge Charles A. Pannell has decided that to permit its publication would be a copyright violation (see News Fronts).

Pannell has ruled that Randall's unpublished book, The Wind Done Gone, is a sequel and therefore "unabated piracy" of the wildly popular novel by Margaret Mitchell, whose heirs are blocking publication of Randall's book. It's a ruling that attorneys for Randall and her publisher, Houghton Mifflin, will contest in the 11th District Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

The judge's version of copyright law seems not to have taken into account that the very point of Randall's book is to counterbalance the romanticized, racist view of slavery presented in Mitchell's book with a fictional narrative set in the same milieu but told from the point of view of the slaves.

The judge might better have suggested that the Mitchell estate, rather than being paid royalties, be required to pay restitution to the millions of African Americans who suffered from the racism and historical distortion that enabled the creators of the book and film to generate a fortune.

Scarlett is no Harry Potter

Randall's detractors suggest that if the character in question was, say, Harry Potter rather than Scarlett O'Hara, and someone had come along and written a version that cleaned up the wizardry because they think wizardry is nasty, we would be much more sympathetic to J. …

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