HBO Max has temporarily removed Gone With the Wind from its streaming library in order to add historical context to the 1939 film long criticized for romanticizing slavery and the Civil War-era American South.
Protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd‘s death have forced entertainment companies to grapple with the appropriateness of both current and past productions.
On Tuesday, the Paramount Network dropped the long-running reality series Cops after 33 seasons. The BBC also removed episodes of Little Britain, a comedy series that featured a character in blackface, from its streaming service.
HBO Max confirmed on Tuesday that the movie from 1939 was pulled and will be returning with a “discussion of its historical context and a denouncement” of its portrayal of Black people and slavery.
“Gone With The Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society,” HBO Max said in a statement. “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values.”
The company said that when Gone With the Wind returns to the recently launched streaming service, it will include “historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”
“If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history,” the streaming service’s statement concluded.
In an op-ed Monday in the Los Angeles Times, filmmaker John Ridley urged WarnerMedia to take down Gone With the Wind, arguing that it “romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was — a bloody insurrection to maintain the ‘right’ to own, sell and buy human beings.”
"Gone With the Wind," when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color, writes John Ridley, Oscar-winning screenwriter of “12 Years A Slave,” for @latimesopinion. https://t.co/qgm8WiP0LB
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) June 8, 2020
Based on a 1936 book by Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind is a historical epic about a romance between Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a gambler who joins the Confederacy.
Gone With the Wind has long been denounced for featuring slave characters who remain loyal to their former owners after the abolition of slavery. It remains the highest-grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation. It won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first Black actress to be nominated or win an Oscar.
Many people took to social media to share their opinions on the movie being temporarily pulled from the streaming service.
Born today in 1893: Hattie McDaniel, the first black actress to win an Academy Award for her role in Gone With the Wind.
HBO removed her award-winning movie on what would have been her 127th birthday.
— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) June 10, 2020
For those who are citing Hattie McDaniel's win for Gone With The Wind, please also share she wasn't allowed to sit at table with her film's white colleagues and fellow nominees. They put her at a small, isolated table far away.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) June 10, 2020
Has anyone asked Olivia de Havilland what she thinks of Gone With the Wind getting banned?
She is still alive today at 103 and lives in Paris
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 10, 2020
I didn't believe they should remove the N-word from Huckleberry Finn and I don't believe they should remove Gone with the Wind. Racism IS American history and it should be seen and examined and discussed, not erased. And today happens to be the birthday of Hattie McDaniel.
— Karen Hunter (@karenhunter) June 10, 2020
Waiting for statements from the cast of Gone with the Wind.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) June 10, 2020
This is great, but at the same time U pulling Gone With the Wind from your viewing selections shows you really do NOT get it. GWTW is a product of it's time and shows an historical period in time. I am a Black woman and this is a piece of history you are trying to whitewash. https://t.co/Y1TFMJWaoL
— Margaret (@MargaretADT) June 10, 2020
Gone With the Wind is still available to stream on Netflix in Canada.
— With files from the Associated Press
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