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Scarlett O’Bribery

Once upon a time, I paid Tommy and Joel to watch Mary Poppins. They earned 50 cents each and they fell in love with Mary. They’ve watched it several more times. For free.

On a recent Saturday night, I paid Aidan $10 to watch Gone with the Wind for the same reasons I paid the boys. They are classic films. I want my kids to be exposed to sensibilities, histories, actors, directors, and genres of another time—but I can’t force them to watch a movie, especially when they say they’d rather just go upstairs and read a book.

Ten bucks! I’ll give you ten bucks! I exclaimed.


I warned her it would be long. But there would be hoopskirts. As the Overture played, I tried to set up the movie without giving too much away. She knows about the Civil War, slavery, the plantation system. She didn’t know about 17-inch waists and how marrying cousins was not icky.

Katie Scarlett O’Hara is a very bratty, spoiled, ultimately brave young woman. Hardships change her. In some ways, the trials and scandals soften her, revealing a broken heart. Just when you think she’s finally learned a lesson, she messes up spectacularly.

Again and again and again and again, she fiddle-dee-dees her way through marriages, scandals, tragedies only to be redeemed in the nick of time. Rhett shows up with the wagon. Melanie kisses her cheek.

I wanted Aidan to see “Gone with the Wind” because I knew she’d spin Scarlett around in her head for the rest of her life. She’ll encounter cultural allusions in everything from “The Simpsons” to the legendary Carol Burnett sketch to Rhett’s famously famous line where he’s frank with his dear.

All the charm, grit, and luck in the world can’t pinch out firestorms or fight off marauding armies. Even the fist-shaking and strong-willed need mercy, redemption, and rescue. We all fall. We all fail. We find ourselves digging in the dirt for radishes until our nails are bleeding and broken.

Aidan didn’t have to see Gone with the Wind to become acquainted with these realities. Life can handle that aspect of her education on its own. Not everything has to be a Grand Lesson. Sometimes:


And $10 can buy ice cream. It’s much tastier than radishes any day.

4 comments to Scarlett O’Bribery

  • You are such a cool mom!!! I love it!!!

  • Great post. Even as a good southern girl, I had never seen the movie until a couple of years ago. I checked it out from the library after finishing the book, which I loved much more than I ever expected.

  • edj

    Last year I introduced Ilsa to “The SOund of Music.” She went with it cuz it was a girls’ night, with some of my friends over. (This is only cool if you live overseas, I do realize) She loved it, and we got Elliot to watch it by telling him it was a world war II movie. (There are nazis! It is!) He hated it, but at least he’ll get it when some girl sings “I am 16” at him.
    I only saw Gone with the Wind once and it was a long time ago. Maybe I will have to netflix it for another girls’ night. Hmmm…who could I invite?

  • Ben and I watched this on Netflix for the first time ever about a couple weeks ago. I’m wishing I’d read your post first, my attitude may have been better. 😉 When it was over, Ben and I looked at each other and swore to never watch it again…totally confused as to why people like it, lol!

    We decided maybe since we’re from the north, we just didn’t “get” it. But after reading your take, it makes so much more sense! 🙂

    I’ll contact you first before I watch the next classic 🙂

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