Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have been canceled. Well, their wedding photos. From Pinterest at least. Pinterest has decided to take down links to the couple’s wedding photos. Why? It’s because the two stars tied the knot at the Boone Hall Plantation.
Plantations are, of course, linked to slavery. At the same time, lots of people love getting married there. Pinterest and wedding sites such as The Knot decided recently that posting wedding photos from plantations glosses over the history (i.e. slavery) linked to these sites. As a result, they’ve decided to take down these wedding photos.
The Knot, for instance, explained they want “to ensure wedding vendors on their websites don’t use language that glorifies, celebrates, or romanticizes Southern plantation history.” Pinterest goes even further by taking down all photos of any plantations.
Lively and Ryan got married in 2012 at Boone Hall, which calls itself “America’s Most Photographed Planation.” Haha, umm, ok. Hollywood has filmed such shows and movies as Days of Our Lives and The Notebook there. In The Notebook, it was Hamilton’s beach house.
When they got married, Lively and Ryan restricted guests from bringing cameras to the wedding. Likely for privacy, also maybe so that guests wouldn’t be wandering around taking photos of the nine slave cabins that still exist. The ones that the South Carolina tourism board says “housed the plantation’s house servants and skilled craftsmen.” They also say “[t]his cluster of cabins is one of the few groups of such historic structures remaining intact in the Southeast and the only brick slave street in the U.S.” The only brick slave street left? Perfect for those wedding photos that will last a lifetime. If only those bricks could talk, oh the stories they’d tell.
I definitely can see how people romanticize plantation life into something idyllic Read Boone Hall’s website and the description of their slave cabins and exhibits right now, and you’d think it’s paradise.
Join our education staff as they discuss what slavery was like on a Carolina Plantation. View the nine remaining slave cabins and the exhibits inside each. Learn the way slaves grew food and used herbal remedies in their everyday lives. Discuss the task vs. gang systems used by overseers of the plantations. Learn what Gullah meant and the language and culture behind it at the Gullah Theatre. Do hands on activities that will show a slaves life and the role of slavery in the success of a plantation.
I bolded that last part. Live the hands-on life of a slave? No thank you. If I wanna be whipped, I’ll just get my girlfriend to do that.
Lively and Reynolds received a bunch of flack when they first revealed their wedding at the plantation. Probably warranted as the plantation once used 85 slaves to produce bricks and pecans. But the wedding photos, so pretty!
Lively also has had a thing for plantation life. Back in 2014, she started “Preserve”, a lifestyle website that had among their offerings, a fashion shoot titled “Allure of Antebellum,” that celebrated “Southern charm” and Southern Belles.
Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and the enticement of a smooth twang…we all love a bit of southern charm. These regional mainstays, along with an innate sense of social poise, evoke an unparalleled warmth and authenticity in style and tradition.
The term “Southern Belle” came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging women with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for style and appearance. These women epitomized Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility. While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom.
The Antebellum period was the time from the formation of the Union right up to the Civil War. While Lively’s Southern belles were frolicking about amongst the Georgia peaches and sweet tea, slaves were toiling in the field harvesting cotton and other crops. Could these slaves “command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom?” Only if they wanted to be whipped.
Lots of these companies like Pinterest have become socially conscious. With every boycott only a tweet away, they’ve become hypersensitive to issues like this. It’s the whole cancel culture in effect.
Should you bury the past though?
Erasing photos of plantations is acting as if a whole period of time didn’t exist.It’s similar to China rewriting history books about the Tiananmen massacre. They mention it, but don’t mention the police brutality, the deaths, etc. Pinterest and The Knot have the right intentions, but it’s doing more harm than good. Erase the photos and you lose the chance to educate people about the history of slavery.
The Boone Hall Plantation at least sprinkles a little about slavery in tours of their site. These plantations should go all the way to the other end. Do a Stanford Prison Experiment crossed with Halloween haunted house. Have people role play as masters and slaves like the Stanford Prison Experiment did with guards and prisoners (even though there are questions about the authenticity of the study) and then have people jumping out of the slave cabins or plantation houses scaring people with whips. People would for sure learn a lot about fear and slavery this way.
Then, there are people who really just like the architecture. Search Antebellum architecture and you have a result like Architectural Digest’s “9 Grand Antebellum Homes Rich in History and Stunning Southern Design.” We shouldn’t expect or want Architectural Digest to pull these articles down because they may feature a style of home that once had slaves. You can separate the architecture from the slavery. Just like you can separate Michael Jackson’s music from his obsession with children. Or Kevin Spacey’s brilliant acting from his predatory ways.
Humans are flawed by nature. If you want perfection in your corporations, your YouTubers, your celebrities, you will be disappointed. We all exist on a spectrum of gray. Pinterest and The Knot should leave these photos up and let people educate themselves. Appreciate the architecture, but recognize the history that comes along with it.