DO NOT ALTER THIS ORIGINAL WILL!!!!
19 January 2014
Imitation of Life in the Modern World
As the world becomes more technologically advanced, the international community has become more diverse than ever before. Traveling from continent to continent is as easy as booking a flight. At the time of Imitation of Life’s filming in 1934, traveling abroad seemed more a romantic gesture as hinted by Stephen Archer’s description to Bea of life at sea. And yet with all the advancements in social media, international travel, and intercontinental commerce, the civilized world is still plagued by social classification and racial prejudice, two of the film’s main thematic drivers. Although we have grown as a society since Imitation of Life was filmed in 1934, many complicated facets of the human condition visible in the film remain today. Of these, I believe racial intolerance and inequality to be the most sobering and equally as applicable today as they were in 1934.
Then- In the film, Peola is ejected from primary school because she is of a mixed race heritage. The segregation laws in place in 1934 allowed for racial discrimination. The one drop rule ensured that mixed race persons, no matter how light skinned, could not integrate into white society
Now- Brown vs. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act have made segregation unlawful. Not all states adopted the anti-
segregation laws. The state of South Carolina’s constitution contained segregating language until 1998. The state of Alabama was the last state to eliminate segregating language in it’s constitution ratifying in 2000. This is clear and documented evidence that the racial issues faced by the African American characters in Imitation of Life exist in the 21st century.
Then- In the film, Peola and Delilah are not welcome to attend the party being held in their own home. This is an example of social segregation because although it was Delilah’s intellectual...