Holiday Inn

We're finishing up our Christmas decorations, and we put a movie on in the background. The selection - mostly for a lack of need to pay much attention to it - was Holiday Inn (1942).

What was acceptable in 1942 that would not pass muster now? The band and wait-staff are black. Customers... not so much. The chief housekeeper is referred to as "Mammy." Then there's the eye-popping blackface routine done in "honor" of Lincoln's birthday.

The conversation Jill and I had at this point was pretty pointed. It's not like we can go back in time and fix these scenes retroactively. And we both had to admit - when we were kids this stuff would pass without a remark.

We've taken as a sign of the amount of improvement that's been made. Not only that things like blackface and "Mammy" are utterly unacceptable, but that even old material made when it was is so noticeable.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F