Teaching Gone With the Wind in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

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Teaching Gone With the Wind in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

by Mart A. Stewart
Southern Cultures, Vol. 11, No. 3: Fall 2005

"'There were a lot of Scarletts in Vietnam after 1975.'"

On his tour through modern Georgia in search of memories of the Old South, Tony Horwitz marveled at Japanese tourists’ fascination with Gone With the Wind and observed the exchanges between them and a busy Vivien Leigh–Scarlett O’ Hara impersonator, Melly Meadows. Meadows had taken her act to Tokyo and boasted that she had once shown her red pantalets to a delighted Japanese Empress. She had learned some Japanese to banter with the tourists who contracted for her appearances in Atlanta, and from these exchanges, she speculated that the Japanese had a “special affinity” for Gone With the Wind (GWTW) because of a kindred attraction to traditional notions of femininity and because they, like southerners, had rebuilt their country after a devastating war. Horwitz mentions other sources of attraction: Scarlett’s loyalty to family, her strength, and the “subtle, mannered code” that both Japanese and southern culture seem to share.