This Day in Pop Culture for January 1

"The Clansman's" preview was released on January 1, 1915

Sneak Preview of D.W. Griffith's 'The Clansman'

Think that movies are controversial now? How about in 1915 when Hollywood’s first blockbuster was born? The silent movie, The Clansman,later renamed as The Birth of a Nation, was shown to an audience on New Year’s Day in 1915. The D. W. Griffith movie was controversial as it included a scene of the assassination of President Lincoln and was seemingly used to promote the Ku Klux Klan. It also featured white actors playing the roles of African-American men in blackface. Many feel that Griffith glamorized the KKK and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People published a pamphlet that describes the film as “three miles of filth.” In fact, the film was later used as a recruiting tool for the KKK. It was also the first motion picture to be viewed at the White House, which is ironic in itself. Some say that despite the negative content of the film, it shows unique film techniques that caused it to be considered an important film in the commercial film industry. Go figure.

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