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Bo and Luke Duke sit in their car, ashore in cartage on an Atlanta street.
A agent pulls up abutting to them and a disciplinarian shouts, “Nice roof, redneck. Why don’t you accompany us in the 21st century?”
On the added side, a trucker slows bottomward to counter, “The South will acceleration again!”
Unbeknownst to the Dukes, their artisan has corrective a ample Confederate action banderole on the top of their Dodge Charger, nicknamed the “General Lee.”
A adolescent atramentous babe rolls alongside, and the corruption continues.
“Late for your Klan rally?”
In the new big-screen adaptation of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Bo and Luke (played by Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville) are ideologically ashore in the average amid two opposing abandon of that admired and hated symbol. Warner Bros. Pictures is bent in the aforementioned position.
Once afresh the agitation rages over America’s best active emblem.
“Putting a Confederate banderole on a car in a big Hollywood cine – and accepting it apparent all over the apple – is absolutely destructive,” says Kevin Willmott.
The Lawrence filmmaker is apprehension the civic absolution in the abatement of “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” his apish documentary that speculates what the country would be like if the South had won the Civil War.
He asks, “Can you brainstorm a Hollywood flat putting two heroes in a car with a swastika on top of the hood?”
Warner Bros. foresaw that altercation ability erupt, so the afterimage of the banderole is judiciously absent in all affected trailers and TV ads for the movie. In fact, the columnist kit appearance nine altered promotional photos of the General Lee, and not one of them displays an bend in which the banderole is legible.
“Clearly, they knew they had a problem,” Willmott says. “They handled it all wrong. It would accept been added honest to aloof say, ‘We don’t anticipate there’s a botheration with this flag.’ But to put the banderole on the car, and again try to be glossy and accept it both ways, is absolutely dishonest. They kept the banderole on the car because they did not appetite to agitated the NASCAR audience, which is their capital audience.”
“I don’t see how you could aftermath ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and NOT accept the banderole on top aback the car is alleged the General Lee,” says Jean Warren.
Warren is a Civil War re-enactor who co-owns James Country Mercantile in Liberty, Mo. – a abundance that offers “authentic aeon appurtenances and casework to active historians, ladies and gentlemen, advancing and civilian.”
“It’s the actual banderole for a car alleged the General Lee because it was Lee’s army’s flag,” she says.
Would Warner Bros. accept been affected to acclimate an alike stronger acknowledgment from angered “Dukes of Hazzard” admirers if the banderole was absolutely excised from the General Lee?
“I don’t anticipate anybody would accept said anything,” Willmott speculates. “The baby allocation of the NASCAR admirers that would accept been agitated would accept taken it like a man.
“If you acquiesce bodies to be ignorant, they’ll be ignorant. Someone has to sometimes appear in and say, ‘This is not acceptable for you. And so we’re activity to abolish it from you.’ We do that all the time in movies.”
Interestingly, the Chrysler Accumulation banned to participate in a “Dukes of Hazzard” business amalgamation with its 2006 Dodge Charger because of the emblem.
“We were approached and we looked at it, but the Confederate banderole anxious us,” says Suraya DaSante, a backer for Chrysler’s business communications. “It wasn’t absolutely article we capital to risk.”
Calls from the Journal-World to Warner Bros. publicity accountable them to affair this statement: “By including the car as it looked in the TV series, we’re actuality affectionate to the aboriginal General Lee of TV fame. We present the car, and the absolute movie, in a tongue-in-cheek way that pokes holes in those symbols after authoritative a big accord out of them.”
Roots of the action flag
“The X banderole that everybody gets so anxious about is the action banderole of the army of Northern Virginia,” clarifies Warren, who is a affiliate of Friends of the Anderson House, a noncombatant abutment accumulation for the Action of Lexington, and commonly performs Civil War re-enacting as a laundress absorbed to a Confederate army army unit.
Indeed, that specific red-and-blue angel with 13 white stars has over time appear to represent the absolute Confederacy.
“In my boutique actuality in Liberty I fly the First Civic Banderole of the Confederacy every day,” she says. “I additionally fly the Missouri Confederate Flag. Cipher knows what it is, I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been aerial those for nine years, and cipher has anytime said a chat about it. But if I put an X like on the General Lee, they’d be all over me so fast.”
Who are “they,” exactly?
“The NAACP, Hatebusters, which is an alignment we accept actuality in Liberty that is absorbed to William Jewell College, and the media,” she responds. “I wouldn’t cartel fly a action flag.”
Jonathan Earle, an accessory assistant of history at Kansas University, says, “What Johnny Knoxville and the bodies who brought you this cine would accept you anticipate is that the Confederate action banderole is aloof about the South, which is this quirky, fun abode area the ancestral problems of the accomplished don’t exist.”
Earle says the action banderole alone came to bulge as a cultural attribute in the 1950s aback acclimated in affront of desegregation.
“People aloof didn’t fly the Confederate banderole in the 1870s and the 1920s,” he says. “Not alone does it catch aback to the angry aegis of slavery, it hearkens aback to: ‘We won’t accelerate our white kids to academy with atramentous kids.’”
A attribute for the ’00s
“When we were kids watching ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ the Confederate banderole meant article actual altered than it does now,” Earle adds. “I do not see how you can escape from the absoluteness that it represents the advancing aegis of bullwork of the Confederacy.”
Earle admits he was a fan of the aboriginal CBS appearance (“I watched it every Friday night aback I was 8 years old. I anticipation it was the greatest affair ever”) but can’t accept the cerebration abaft Warner Bros. aggravating to acclimate it for a avant-garde audience.
“I aloof don’t see this (concept) alive now,” he says.
Similarly, Warren says she, too, enjoyed the aboriginal series.
“I am a adolescent of the ’70s,” she says. “I watched the Dukes. Tom Wopat and John Schneider were attractive men.”
However, she additionally believes association has undergone a cogent cultural shift.
“In the time amount from aback the TV appearance was on until now, we accept gotten into this accomplished PC (politically correct) thing,” she says. “For whatever reason, the action banderole is not PC, because it has been misrepresented, misidentified, misused, etc.”
Willmott remembers watching the affairs also, although his acumen of it differs hardly from the others.
“It wasn’t like I was apropos to the rural ability allotment of it,” says Willmott, who was in his aboriginal 20s aback the affairs debuted. “It was aloof impaired and funny and fast. It had a appearance to it. But one affair I bethink is I consistently acquainted afflictive watching it. There was consistently article that agitated me about it. And it was acutely the flag.”
He says that afraid affection continues to affliction bodies aback they appointment the image.
“A lot of Americans alive with the Confederate flag,” Willmott says. “They see it on cars and they go, ‘Something about that bothers me.’ And they don’t absolutely apperceive what it is.”
Willmott accepted the befalling to appear an beforehand screening of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He begin elements of the cine “disturbing.”
“It’s addition archetype of how Hollywood deals with slavery,” he says of the film, which opens today nationwide. “They affectionate of do a sleight-of-hand move. They consistently try and annulment the abandoned implications of bullwork from the capital characters. They did that in ‘The Patriot,’ area Mel Gibson is not a bondservant owner, alike admitting he’s got all these atramentous bodies alive for him on a acreage in 1775.
“They did the aforementioned affair with Nicole Kidman’s appearance in ‘Cold Mountain.’ She and Jude Law abutment the Confederacy – he goes boot off to action for it – but both are adjoin slavery. … That’s like authoritative a cine about somebody who joins the Nazi Party to action adjoin the Americans but absolutely has annihilation adjoin the Jews.”
While Willmott was afraid by abounding aspects of the new movie, he cites the arena area the Dukes are sandwiched amid motorists with opposing angle of the car’s Confederate attribute as decidedly misleading.
“The banderole comes off as an innocent victim here,” he says. “Those bodies (who alarm the Dukes ‘rednecks’) are not the acceptable guys in the film. I did not appear abroad from them as bodies that I liked. They seemed loud and unfair. That’s what the NASCAR admirers would say about those people: ‘They’re loud and unfair.’”
Willmott explains he employs the byword “NASCAR fan” as a catchall for those who aren’t culturally enlightened.
“I abhorrence to use the appellation redneck because that’s unfair,” he says. “I use the appellation NASCAR fan, because aback you go to a NASCAR chase you see so abounding Confederate flags. Because of that, Warner Bros. chose to absolutely embrace that culture. And that ability is not one that is absolute acute to the adversity of atramentous folks. It’s not that they don’t like atramentous people, it’s aloof they’ve been told, ‘Well, they’ve been whining a continued time.’”
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