Letter: Almost as offensive as it could have been

It is with pride and relief that I commend the Freshman Class Council’s decision to change the theme of the upcoming Freshman Screw in response to concerns voiced by members of the Black Student Alliance at Yale. The new theme? “A Midwinters Night’s Dream.”

BSAY President Jamilah Prince-Stewart ’09 was quoted in Thursday’s News stating, “For some people, [Gone With the Wind] reads as a movie about the enslavement of black people.” Never having seen the movie itself, I was shocked. Have all those relatives and friends just been lying through their teeth when they described the movie as being about things like “romance”? I was perhaps foolhardy to trust IMDB’s account of “the history of a selfish woman who doesn’t want to admit her feelings about the man she loves, and finally loses him.” Because the film, of course, is about the enslavement of black people.

One might as well “wear a slave costume,” to quote Brandee Blocker ‘12, who also e-mailed the FCC to register her complaints.

When FCC members met to discuss the Screw theme — no doubt at midnight, in the Skull & Bones tomb, wearing white sheets over their heads — they had one goal in mind: a highly offensive theme. One that would make the black community uncomfortable, and maybe even bring some kinky slave costumes out of the woodwork.

Closer inspection of the minutes of that meeting, had they not been burned, would probably reveal several other alternatives vying with the cinematic classic. “Fun in the Sun” was suggested for its connotations of skin cancer and shark attacks. “Your Knight in Shining Armor” was seen as especially attractive for its references to certain key aspects the Middle Ages, such as plague, male chauvinism, religious intolerance, and wanton slaughter.

Reportedly clocking in at a close second to “Gone With the Wind” was “A Midwinters Night’s Dream.” The allusion to the Elizabethan era in which Shakespeare lived was powerful, conjuring up images of an autocracy where the slave trade was in full swing and women could not even act in female parts on stage. (The extra “s” in “Midwinters” was meant as a jab at those who have trouble with grammar and/or typing, especially the arthritic and dyslexic.) Second-best but still suitably insulting, I cannot find fault with its use as a fall-back position for a representative body confronted with the righteous outrage of its constituents.

In conclusion, I will still be attending the freshman screw — but I guess I’ll have to leave my horsewhip and manacles at home.

Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent

Jan. 29

The writer is a freshman in Davenport College.


  • A New Prohibition

    Yes---Gone With the Wind is about slavery----slavery to a chivalric ideal of the romance of war.

    It's final line ("Land's the only thing that lasts, Katie") uttered by the crazed father of Katie Scarlet O'Hara in his Irish brogue as Katie watches his plantationm, Tara, (and symbolically the romantic nonsense of the Confederacy) go up in flames, turns out to be a prophetic irony as we confront Global Warming 150 years later: Land may not last at all.

    The "political correctness" of abolishing (forgive the allusion) Gone With the Wind from the Freshman Screw is emblematic of a generation of busybodies which skims the surface of ideas like a radar warning system, instead of plummetting their depths. It's a new Era of Prohibition.

  • Ummm…

    Do yourself the favor of a little more research on the subject of this film and its reception. When you do, you'll likely regret that this article--and the attitude it expresses--will be forever available to the world.

  • Hieronymus

    Perhaps we should have had a "West Side Story" theme; you know, to poke idle fun at racism, queerness, and the genericization of "Latin" culture.

    That would have been MUCH more appropriate!

  • Anonymous

    Very well said; I commend you for calling out the absurdity of the BSAY response, and I hope we manage to get through the rest of our Yale careers without further "offenses" and "indignation" (or whatever they're calling it) from such groups.

    BSAY, when you do silly things like bizarrely protesting a romantic semi-formal theme for Freshman Screw, perhaps it ought to be a sign that you are well on the track to irrelevance.

    Anthony "Rek" LeCounte
    TD '11

    p.s. before anyone cries foul, I'm black. While we're at it, I'm offended that Yale exists, considering its long history of misogyny, anti-Semitism, racism, and even support for slavery. What on earth are we doing supporting and being educated by such an institution? BSAY, help! We're being oppressed!

  • Anonymous

    Very witty, but I would never put my name on something like this for fear of retaliation. Godspeed, brave freshman!

  • Hieronymus

    Non sequitur:

    Were the author to marry one of the subjects of the article, would any (perhaps adopted) offspring be named Baby Rodriguez-Torrent y Prince-Stewart?

    Enough with this hyphenation nation!

  • GWB

    Clarification: Bonesmen do not wear sheets (clearly you are not member material, else you would know this). Also, we had no goal--or any thought--in mind whatsoever; indeed, it was the very lack of mindfulness that led to this embarrassing offense, for which we apologize.