One of New York City’s most exalted prep schools has formally apologized for screening a satirical slavery film to students in which the South won the Civil War, the New York Times reports.
The Dalton School, located in the Upper East Side, showed C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America to sophomores during history-project presentations on Monday. The film, which was released in 2006, is a documentary-style satire that makes a mockery of slavery. The viewing led to complaints at the school, the Times notes. On Wednesday the school gathered students and parents to apologize.
The controversial flick, set 150 years after Ulysses S. Grant “surrenders” to Robert E. Lee, uses analysis by fake historians and altered footage (like a Confederate flag on the moon). It also freely perpetuates racial stereotypes, while pointing out that attitudes toward black people in the real 21st century is not exactly a far stretch from the fake 21st-century Confederacy.
According to the Times, the more provocative parts of the flick were the “advertisements,” including one for a tracking-device “shackle,” dubbed the “revolutionary new way of servant monitoring.”
Students at the affluent school told reporters that some were concerned about the apparent insensitivity to the struggle of black people and the mockery made of slavery.
The head of Dalton, Ellen C. Stein, pledged on Wednesday in a statement to increase efforts to talk with students and staff alike about race matters.
“We believe in the highest levels of respect and sensitivity for the diverse nature of our student body and community,” she said. “Monday’s screening should not have taken place and we sincerely regret that the film was shown.”
Read more at the New York Times.