Extra Credit

Extra Credit

By: Jacob McCloud

The CSA: The Confederate States of America is a unique film that explains the events during and after the Civil War based on a confederate victory. Director David Wilmot and producer Spike Lee create a fake history film to show what the world could have been like if the South would have won the Civil War. Wilmot uses the documentary to show that history is written by the winners.[1] The information in this film puts the “what if” discussion we have covered in class to use. Sometimes it is necessary to see what could have happened to understand what actually did happen. To briefly summarize the movie, after a Southern victory, they annex the Northern territory and promote their ideas and beliefs, including slavery, throughout the land.[2] Many individuals of the North, including Abraham Lincoln, moved north into Canada.[3] Next, the movie describes major events such as the conquering of Cuba and South America, America’s involvement with Adolf Hitler during World War II, America’s attack on a Japanese naval base, and the issue between the Confederate States and the Canadian border.[4] A few years later, the presidential candidate, John Fauntroy, kills himself after he is accused of being a descendant of someone who had sexual relations with a slave.[5] At the end of the movie, it shows the how the commercials throughout the film were based on true events.[6] Overall, the mockumentary gives the viewers a new perspective on what could have possibly happened if the Civil War would have ended in a Confederate victory.

When it comes to learning new information from this movie, it is difficult task to do due to the fact that the movie presents made-up information based on a Confederate victory. What I did learn is how big of an impact the Civil War had on the world we live in today. The events in the movie take the opposite position of what happened in the past. For example, the United States attacked a naval base in Japan on December 7, 1941, which is completely opposite of what happened.[7] Also, it talks about how Harriet Tubman was executed when she was actually a hero during and after the Civil War.[8] This makes you think about whether or not this actually could have happened if the Confederate states won. Overall, the movie makes you grateful for the world we live in, and curious about what could have been.

When it comes to the effectiveness of the movie, it definitely did its job in showing how all of history past the Civil War would have been different.  The only criticism I have is the order of the movie. It was presented in chronological order, but it was difficult to keep up with what was going on. The movie would jump from one event to another. It might just be my lack of understanding of American history, but I was confused about where the movie was going a lot of the time. I think the commercials that were mixed in throughout the film were what really made this movie hard to understand. Plus, it is very confusing to watch this movie because you have to relearn history. Everything in this movie is backwards.

The subject matter truly shows the counterfactual ideas of the movie. Although it may be considered humorous to most, it was necessary to make the movie as “factual” and interesting as possible.  In the end, the overall purpose of the film was to show how “frightfully easy it is for the soul of a corrupted nation to stay corrupt, as each generation sacrifices its ideals for the convenience of tradition.”[9]

The parts of the movie that I found to be the most intriguing were the commercials that were shown throughout the film. While you are watching them, you consider them to be ridiculous, but at the end, you find out that some of the commercials are actually true. Some examples include the Coon Restaurant Inn. In the movie, it shows an African American woman promoting others to eat at her restaurant.[10] At first, I thought it was pretty hilarious that the directors would come up with an idea like this to convey their argument, but at the end, I found out that this was an actual restaurant. Another example was the Darky Toothpaste. In the movie, a man states that the toothpaste was necessary for a “shine that is jigaboo bright.”[11] Overall, these commercials were the most interesting part of the movie. It used examples that nobody would believe to be true and showed that they are actually facts in the end.

Overall, the information from the film is very closely related to what we have been learning in this class. Like I mentioned before, we have been learning about the “what ifs” of history and this movie perfectly explains that idea. What if the South would have won the war? How would that have affected the history of our nation? This movie answers those questions.

[1] “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” A.V. Club, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.avclub.com/review/csa-the-confederate-states-of-america-4084.

[2] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD, directed by Kevin Wilmott, (2004, Lawrence, Kansas).

[3] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[4] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[5] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[6] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[7] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[8] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[9] “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” A.V. Club.

[10] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[11] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

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