A review of “CSA: Confederate States of America” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: Unrated but should be PG-13 for disturbing racial content

Run Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes



Red and blue states merge into a garish purple stain of utopian prejudice in this racial and historical satire that shocks and amuses. Director Kevil Willmott rewrites history Ken Burns-style, documenting the last one hundred and fifty years of America’s history as if the South had won the Civil War. Welcome to the Confederate States of America.

Willmott packages his polarizing polemic as a controversial program called “C.S.A.”, a BBC-ish documentary airing for the first time on San Francisco’s own Confederate television. Punctuated with jaw-droppingly racist commercials for Coon Chicken Inn, Sambo X-15 lubricant and a club-like gadget called The Shackle that keeps slaves from straying, “C.S.A.” doesn’t miss a seat-squirming beat in skewering blacks, Jews, Native-Americans, Japanese – you name it.

And what of our faux historic report card? Abraham Lincoln is in cahoots with Harriet Tubman, who paints him in blackface and spirits him through her Underground Railroad after the spectacular collapse of his administration. He resurfaces in prison and ultimately exile in Montreal. Hitler takes a Washington meeting with then U.S. President John Ambrose Fauntroy, who suggests taking Jews as slaves as an alternative to extermination on the path to perfecting the Aryan race.

 “Archival” footage and clips from such film “classics” as “I Married an Abolitionist” (1955) pepper expert talking heads (historians, authors and the like) while the Slave Shopping Network praises the joys of Negro ownership and White Supremacy reigns as the natural order. With Spike Lee serving as the film’s “presenter” it’s no wonder that “CSA” bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the social sorrows of his adversarial “Bamboozled”.

In the grand tradition of “The Aristocrats” furious laughs come at culpable expense. Fiction ostensibly blends with fact as Willmott’s inspiration and shrouded wrath occasionally finds itself buried in comic technique. As absurdly cruel and outrageous as it seems this bigoted fairy tale nudges a little too close for comfort.