A Not So Alternative American History

The 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: Confederate States of America depicts an America in which the Confederacy had won the American Civil War. Presented as if it were a British documentary, the film details significant political, cultural, and military events of the CSA from the Civil War up until the earl 2000s. The movie satirizes issues and events that have happened and are still present in the United States to this day; the result is a revealing viewpoint on the discrimination that still exists today. As the author of “What If?” explains, just because the end of the Civil War resulted in the end of slavery as an institution in the United States, it by no means resulted in the end of racism. I believe this to be the main goal of the director of this movie.

One part of the mockumentary I found especially interesting was the Reconstruction segment. One contributor claims that in order to mend the divide between the victorious South and the defeated North, “the aims and causes of the war suddenly changed. Slavery was no longer mentioned as the cause of the war.” She continues, maintaining that “this was the key to reconciliation.” I found this so fascinating because it is in no way fictional. An accurate history of the United States reveals that the causes of the war suddenly changed after the war in order to strengthen the newly reformed United States. Davis writes in Inhuman Bondage that “while African Americans and a few white writers struggled to preserve the revolutionary or ‘emancipationist’ meaning of the Civil War, the compelling desire for reconciliation and healing… led to a national consensus that made ‘everyone right, and no one truly wrong, in the remembered Civil War.’” Additionally, when the same contributor observes that “the courage and sacrifice of whites on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line were romantically examined,” she is not too far off from what actually happened. The Civil War became more of a sectional war than an emancipationist war in the decades following the conflict. Therefore, the services of both Union and Confederate soldiers were both celebrated. As the contributor accurately mentions in reference to this romantic version of the war, “they struggled to survive, they protected their homes and families…”

Overall, I thought film did a fine job in examining the racism that still exists in contemporary society. I thought the fake commercials that divided the mockumentary did an especially good job of this as some of the products being advertised actually existed. It ultimately reveals an alternative history that in some ways is completely inaccurate and offensive, but in some ways is not too far off from what actually happened. It is extremely interesting to reflect on what would have happened if the Confederacy would have won the Civil War and C.S.A.: Confederate States of America hits the nail on the head.

 

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