Movies and Conduct

Source: ‘Female, 22, white, college senior’, quoted in Herbert Blumer, Movies and Conduct (New York: Macmillan, 1933), pp. 180-181

Text: The pictures of the South that were in my mind were those given by Harriet B. Stowe. D.W. Griffith’s production, “The Birth of a Nation” made me see the Negro of the South as he was and not as the Northerners have always portrayed him. I believe that many people were influenced as I was to realize what the Negroes thought freedom meant. It is only when a Negro demands the marriage of the abolitionist’s daughter, who is white, that he, the father, can realize what all his agitation has meant. This picture did not make me an advocate of slavery as it existed but it made me see things from a Southerner’s point of view.

Comments: American sociologist Herbert Blumer’s Movies and Conduct presents twelve studies of the influence of motion pictures upon the young, made by the Committee on Educational Research of the Payne Fund, at the request of the National Committee for the Study of Social Values in Motion Pictures. The study solicited autobiographical essays, mostly from undergraduate students of the University of Chicago, and presented extracts from this evidence in the text. This extract comes from the section ‘Scheme of Life’ under the paragraph heading ‘Difference in Interpretation’. This film referred to is The Birth of a Nation (USA 1915).

Links: Copy at Internet Archive

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