The AFI List: Why we 'give a damn'
It’s easy to poke fun at the annual AFI lists of the 100 Greatest Movie Whatevers (as we did in a previous post). You can argue that they’re little more than conversation-starters, and that their often unimaginative picks tend to favor ”the usual suspects” (one of several lines from Casablanca that made this year’s list of top movie quotes). Still, I was pleased to see that ”Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” topped the list, though not for the reasons stated on the AFI’s TV special last night, that it’s a cool line that you wish you could say next time you’re dumping someone.
It’s also a great line because it helped break down the censorship rules that governed Hollywood until the late 1960s. For the first time, the Gone With the Wind filmmakers convinced the censorship board that the line could be uttered no other way, that the film’s ending would otherwise lack impact, and that, after four hours of watching the movie’s conniving, manipulative heroine, the morals of the nation’s children were not going to be corrupted by one ”damn.” It took another 30 years of hammering away before the board gave way to the present system, but the GWTW battle proved the board could be fought and defeated. So, for allowing movies to speak ”frankly,” we owe that line a debt of thanks.