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"The Philadelphia Story," 1940, begins with a case of domestic assault played for laughs. Eight decades later, the movie is both an enduring American classic and uneasy fare for a post-#MeToo culture.Molly Ringwald posed this question in The New Yorker last April, 34 years after playing Samantha, an attractive female sophomore in John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles".Some Americans, often those in power, cast popular culture as froth that's unworthy of serious scrutiny.The "Charlie Chan" movies of the 1930s and 1940s, shown repeatedly on TV in the 1970s and 1980s, seem today to brim with racial problems.According to Yunte Huang, however, who traced the character's history, many Asians welcomed the films at the time. The dawn of the digital era and the rapid rise of streaming culture means that now, entertainment of any vintage can be accessed by pretty much anyone on any screen.While "Birth of a Nation," the groundbreaking 1915 film widely regarded as one of the most corrosively racist ever made, is viewed ever more harshly as the years pass, a misogynist bigot like Archie Bunker from "All in the Family" presents a different story.As you read this, entertainment is being made that'll be just as problematic to future generations.Entertainment is a multibillion-dollar industry designed to sell American culture's stories back to "us" in infinite configurations.
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