I have always rooted for the protagonist in movies. Aka, “the good guy.” Whenever I would watch a movie, I always liked to think that I shared more commonality with the good guy versus the bad guy. We always think we are the good people in our story. But then, I have come to realize that the good guys in movies are not who you want to aspire to be because they are just an idealized version of people.
“Every villain is a hero in his own story,” according to my favorite caped crusader, Bruce Wayne.
I have come to discover for myself later on, however, that I am by no means the “good guy” in my own story, and that is something I had to grapple with. I know I have a good heart deep down, but I have realized that things are not always completely black or white. Sometimes, things can have a little bit of gray. And it is ultimately up to us how we play this game called life.
Which is why, when I watched “Gone with the Wind” for the first time last night, I was pleased to discover Ms. Scarlett O’Hara. I have never bothered to watch “Gone with the Wind” even though I had always wanted to see it. It was on Amazon for free so I finally decided to check it out. I secretly thought it was going to be one of those old school movies that would not hold up very well and be boring to watch. It turns out, I was wrong and I loved it. All four hours of it. Scarlett O’Hara is the anti-heroine we didn’t know we have all been waiting for. Her flawed character is what makes her genuine and in a way, admirable.
A protagonist such as Scarlett O’Hara’s coming to life on screen finally made a movie character relatable for me. As a movie lover, it brought me so much comfort to be able to relate to a flawed character as opposed to the unrealistic “good guy.”
Here are a few times this timeless character just became way too relatable:
P.S. If you haven’t seen “Gone with the Wind,” you should. Oh, and, *spoiler alert.*
Although she is described to be selfish and manipulative, she understood that she had to do things sometimes out of necessity and that she had to leave her feelings out of it. In the movie, she was in love with a guy named Ashley, but she couldn’t have him. For one, because he didn’t love her. And two, because he was married to his cousin. (eep!) After the war, her family-owned plantation had run out of resources so she does what she can to survive. She put aside her feelings and marries Mr. Frank Kennedy, a businessman, and together, flourish in a lumber business. Some of her actions are ruthless, but because of this, she can survive against all odds.
She Is Selfish
Yes, I will have to agree with the critics on this one, she is selfish and relentless. She is the justify-the-means-to-an-end type of person. She has a blatant disregard for people who care for her the most: Melanie, the ever-loyal friend, and Rhett Butler, the man who loved her unconditionally. But don’t we owe it to ourselves to be selfish? I realize that the noble thing to do in life generally is to be selfless and to think of other people. But why is that exactly? And in the process, aren’t we being just as, if not more, selfish by always leaving ourselves out in the hopes that we are deemed to be noble people by others? I know I am a good person. And I have done selfless deeds as well that involved looking outside of myself. Would I ever consider myself noble? Not really. Or maybe, every once in a while. But I also embrace the fact that I can be selfish too. That is how I am surviving today. And I have to believe that that is how other people survive on a day-to-day basis as well. The truth is, we are all selfish, we just don’t like to admit it.
The dramatic scene where she just pulls a fresh radish root fresh right out of the soil in an orange-hued background and eats it in disgust is probably the catalyst and the reason behind all her actions. In this scene, she proclaims that she will never go hungry again, as she should! After the war, she lost all resources that sustained her and her family for generations. She tried to do the upkeep on her own after losing both parents. And then one day, along with the orange-hued skies, she had a massive meltdown and basically said to herself, f*ck this shit. This is when the successful lumber business trickles in, and all the good fortune that she paved her way for. I can relate to this on a personal level. I feel like I chose the wrong major in college, the kind of major that takes one in a billion shot to make it big. It still made decent money, but you would have to start in the “armpit of America” and make your way through a steep climb: journalism. And then one day, I had the ultimate epiphany and said to myself that I didn’t want to be a struggling peasant forever. Like Scarlett, I also like food and the fear of going hungry is real. So, I applied for grad school and got accepted. Yay. “As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!” Preach girl, preach!
She Knows Her Priorities
There are plenty of pivotal events that transpire for Scarlett. She suffers a great amount of loss throughout the movie in a figurative and literal sense. There is Tara, her family-owned plantation that is in shambles after the war, she loses her mom, and her dad loses his sanity, so, she does lose him in a way, as well. She also tragically loses her daughter due to an accident. Similarly, she loses her innocence through witnessing the cold aftermath of war and losing the home she has always known. But the one thing that kept her going despite these tremendous losses is the fact that she could say to herself, “I’ll think about that tomorrow!” as if she knew that for a moment, she had to almost kill everything that was killing her for her to be able to function. Setting aside emotions, especially when you are in the throes of pain and loss is one of the hardest things any human being can do and something that can be only done by strong-willed individuals. She is one of them.
She Loves Fearlessly
I personally would not choose to love anyone who didn’t love me back because that is just torture and unnecessary heartache. She, on the other hand, fearlessly does and she suffers the consequences tremendously that it becomes the ultimate downfall in her life – to be alone. She loved Ashley since the early days of her youth, but it was not met with reciprocation. One day, as she is standing by Ashley who is grieving the loss of his wife, Melanie, Scarlett’s most loyal and trusted friend, she stands in shock and is met with the horrible realization that she essentially loved a person for no reason at all. “And I’ve loved something that doesn’t exist,” realizing that loving this man was a complete and utter facade. She then runs after her own husband, Rhett Butler, to finally proclaim his love to him – who walked out after having witnessed how she was clearly still in love with Ashley after all these years. “I must have loved you for years, only, I’m such a stupid fool, I didn’t know it.” Consequently, she was met with one of life’s greatest ironies: realizing you are in love with someone who is/has already fallen out of love with you. Then, like a ticking bomb, the tragic and iconic line gets dropped on her by Rhett, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” after asking him what would she do without him.
Scarlett O’Hara is the badass anti-heroine we never knew we wanted for showing us what it’s like to be fearless, unapologetically human and to fight for love. Author Margaret Mitchell behind the epic tale of the south describes her best: “her burdens were her own and burdens were for shoulders strong enough to bear them.” She is raw, flawed, iconic and magnificent. A rare anti-heroine worth finding.