"I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the Confederate States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all white people."
2004 independent film produced as a Mockumentary and released by Hodcarrier Films, presented as a British documentary airing on Confederate television for the first time. It depicts an Alternate History where the Confederacy not only won The American Civil War but grew in power and conquered the North as well, and focuses on the socioeconomic ramifications of such a world. Aiding this telling are several false newsreels, film clips, and even some real historical paintings and pictures.Since it's supposedly airing on television, there's also faux commercial breaks advertising several Afrophobic products that you'd think were made up. Sadly, most of them actually once existed, as shown during the credits.
Alternate History Wank: A rather bizarre case. Although the Confederacy's presented in a strong negative light, it still manages to become a dominant world power and conquers one of the largest empires in human history, capturing most of Central America and the entire continent of South America with far less effort and expenditure than would realistically be expected. Additionally, Canada becomes to this universe what the USA is to the real one — culturally and economically dominant on the world stage, and rapidly outstripping the Confederacy militarily as well.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: Disturbingly, a lot of the fake commercials advertise racist products that once were real after the Civil War. In the North.
Also one that's kind of a Genius Bonus. The idea of Lincoln escaping in blackface and being caught seems to be just a joke, but it's likely a reference/reversal of a Northern urban legend in actual history that claimed Jefferson Davis had tried to escape dressed as a woman.
Canada, Eh?: Subverted. Since many of those responsible for what we think of as American culture (from Mark Twain to Elvis Presley) are forced into Canada due to Confederate morality laws, it essentially becomes the America of this world — the heart of global popular culture.
Content Warnings: Because CSA (the in-universe documentary) is so controversial from the Confederate perspective, Channel 6 puts up this Viewer Discretion Advised disclaimer:
The following program is of foreign origin. The content does not reflect the views of this station and may be unsuitable for children and servants. Viewer Discretion is advised.
Crapsack World: The CSA, if you're of any nationality apart from those considered white, and even then you can be accused of "passing". Just ask John Ambrose Fauntroy V. But if you're European-American, life in the CSA would most likely have been pretty swell... assuming you were a full-blooded conservative traditionalist, that is. Oh, and male because women don't have the right to vote and their husbands are permitted to beat them. And not gay.
Culture Police: The repression of black music and those inspired by such, due to Confederate culture laws, end up making American culture stupid and boring, while Canada benefits as mentioned above.
Driven to Suicide: John Ambrose Fauntroy V, after he's accused of having a trace of black ancestry. He didn't.
Then again, earlier in the film, the Newsbreak segment happened to mention common errors in DNA tests conducted by the Department of Racial Identity which could lead citizens to question who they really are. Also, the film never makes it clear whether negative means "negative white" or "negative black".
Eagleland Osmosis: Averted as without African influences, American culture never evolves beyond "extensions of government propaganda". Imagine an America with no jazz, blues, soul, or rock 'n' roll. Heinous.
They don't outright turn on them; as it's mentioned later that the CSA gets criticized by this universe's equivalent of the UN for taking a neutral stance in World War 2.
The Empire: The Confederacy conquers the Union and imposes an apartheid system upon Latin America.
In fact, assuming they conquered the majority of Central and South America plus all territory the US controls in real life, they would (by square mileage) be either the second-largest or largest empire in history.
Faux Affably Evil: Many of the modern-day Confederate-Americans come off this way. They seem perfectly pleasant...or at least as pleasant as someone who subscribes to white supremacy can possibly be.
For Want of a Nail: Judah P. Benjamin's earnest diplomacy convinced Britain to support the Confederacy, France following their lead. Combined with Confederate victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, this won them not just their independence but political supremacy over the states of the North.
Government Agency of Fiction: The House Committee of Racial Identity, a thinly-veiled parody of the once very real House Un-American Activities Committee.
Happiness in Slavery: How slaves are depicted in CSA productions. In (the film's) reality, not so much.
"My great-grandfather did not have sexual relations with that woman!"
"Are you now, or have you ever been, a homosexual?"
A Confederate leader demanding reparations for slavery...in the form of Canada paying the Confederacy for all of the labor that had been lost due to slaves escaping to Canada.
There's also a lot of things that are like In Spite of a Nail, with deliberate reference to actual (usually questionable) actions of the United States, but with them being worse in the CSA. For instance, the Confederacy engages in a war of conquest against South America. While this detail was based on an actual ambition of the Confederacy, the idea of that war being a uniter of America following the division of the Civil War is equally true of the actual Spanish-American War.
The film shows a Retraux imagined film, A Northern Wind, representing the move towards presenting the Union as a Worthy Opponent / Hero Antagonist rather than evil. This mirrors how the Confederacy was presented in America by the 1930s, and the fictional film is essentially the alternate universe equivalent to Gone with the Wind.
In the part of the documentary regarding the Native Americans' failed resistance, it's mentioned their children are put into schools focused on assimilation, to "take the native out of the native." A parallel to the very real Residential Schools in Canada.
Historical Villain Upgrade: Among other things, the Confederacy is so gung-ho about slavery that their first act after annexing the former Union is to enslave all free blacks. The money quote is at the very end:
Sherman Hoyle: "Slavery, like nothing else, is what defines us, shapes us as a people, as a nation."
Sherman Hoyle's quote is a send-up of a similarly phrased quote by historian Shelby Foote in Ken Burns' The Civil War:
Shelby Foote: "Any understanding of this nation has to be based—and I mean really based—on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that, firmly. It defined us [...] The Civil War defined us as what we are, and it opened us to what we became—both good and bad things."
More likely it's based on the speeches of real-life CSA Vice-President Alexander Stephens, who said that very thing.
In Spite of a Nail: Done deliberately to make satirical parallels with actual history. The opening quote by George Bernard Shaw (subtly) lampshades this.
On the DVD Commentary, the creators note this trope with the Indian Wars.
The Internet Is for Porn: Apparently, porn is still the top-selling item on the Internet, even with eBay being used as a 21st-Century slave auction block.
La Résistance: The John Brown Underground, a covert abolitionist movement that is mentioned repeatedly. By the film's present time they are operating out of Canada.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The documentary, especially in its coverage of the 19th Century, is a subtle parody of Ken Burns' The Civil War. Two of the prominent talking heads in CSA are, likewise, parodies of two historians interviewed for Ken Burns' documentary: Sherman Hoyle is a parody of Shelby Foote, and Patricia Johnson is a parody of Barbara Fields.
May Contain Evil: Contrari, a drug that supposedly "cures" drapetomania. In reality, it just dopes the slaves enough to be compliant.
Not So Different: One scene in the film is a news clip about a football game. The Washington Indians *
(as opposed to the Washington Redskins)
are playing the New York Niggers. Highlights the racist undertones of modern society.
In the closing text-crawl about how most of the racist products advertised during the film were real at some point, it's pointed out that Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are holdovers of slave imagery. The idea behind those was originally that your trusted slave had made the food, so you know it must be good to eat.
Oppressive States Of America: In the Confederacy (which now includes even the Northern states and most of the Americas after their conquests) the entire black population is enslaved, gender equality is non-existent, sexual orientation is not a free choice, and there is not much political freedom.
Planet of Hats: American culture as depicted in this film seems obsessed with slavery, to a frankly absurd degree.
Politically Correct History: Played with. After the Civil War, there's an attempt to make the abolition movement, and the North, look misguided in popular culture.
Politically Incorrect Villain: The CSA's enslaved its black and Chinese population, is highly sexist, and the Jews have either fled the country or been forced into what are essentially ghettos.
Pragmatic Villainy: The CSA rejects Hitler's final solution because it "wastes human livestock".
Subverted with an abolitionist movement in the 1950s. It emerges from Canada and creates its own version of the "Weather Underground". It ends with the construction of a wall dividing the CSA and Canada.
Averted with actual communists, which is ironic considering how the USSR used America's unequal treatment of blacks and women for anti-American propaganda purposes in the pre- and post-WW 2 eras.
Regional Riff: The Jew's harp theme heard in the "Runaway" commercial, as well as the African drum in the credits explaining the basis of the movie.
Show Within a Show: Runaways and Leave It To Beulah, among others. Beulah was a real show, though, and you're watching actual clips from it. It's just that the credits fail to mention it at all in its rundown of what was legit.
The Theme Park Version: In the name of its message, the movie discards some pretty attractive opportunities for a serious look at the subject of a successful CSA.
Truth in Television: Regardless of how it's presented, the movie's real purpose is to highlight a serious and legitimate real-world issue — namely, racism, both de facto and institutionalized. For example, virtually all of the "fake" advertisements used in the commercial breaks are for real products. Granted, most of the products were discontinued or renamed to remove racist imagery within the last hundred years, but it mentions that the restaurant chain Sambo's was in operation as late as the 1980s and Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are still in use as advertising icons.
Also, the CSA's obsession with slavery can seem like a Planet of Hats situation, but by the 1840s the "confederacy" really was getting consumed by slavery as a lynchpin and focus of society; just as with the above examples, it's more an extrapolation than anything else. (The real question is whether or not it would have gone quite that far nationally since even in the 1840s some southerners were beginning to express dismay at the direction their society was taking.)
The couple dozen anti-slavery, anti-secession counties in northwestern Virginia that broke away from that state to remain in the Union (eventually becoming West Virginia). Here, the Union's conquered, so...now what?
Presumably those legislators who supported the breakaway that could be caught were arrested, tried, and and punished, and the two Virginias were reunited (not that different from Reconstruction as it actually happened).
The Soviet Union, Communist China, and the entirety of the real Cold War.
World War II: The Confederacy's an Axis-friendly country that perceives the regime of Nazi Germany as a "biologically correct" campaign. Confederate Secretary John Ambrose Fauntroy III fails to persuade Hitler to consider slavery of Jews as a more productive alternative to the Nazi program of mass extermination, but nevertheless guarantees him that the Confederacy won't interfere with Germany on the battlefield.
The Confederacy perceives the existence of Japan, an Asian power, as an inherent challenge to their racialist policies. So the Confederation of American States launches a surprise attack on Yokohama, Tokyo Bay, followed up by a full-scale invasion of Japan in a reversal of Japan's historical entrance into World War II.