Why HBO Max Temporarily Removed “Gone With the Wind”
The 1939 film's racist stereotypes don't fly in today's world
In the wake of nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, HBO Max removed the classic-yet-extremely-antiquated Gone With the Wind from its streaming platform on Tuesday night. But as the company clarified today, the move is only temporary, and the film will return to the service at a later date with new material that frames its racist and stereotypical content in a historical context.
“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 decision by HBO Max to take down the movie came after 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, wrote a column in the Los Angeles Times calling for its removal titled, “Hey, HBO, Gone With the Wind romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform for now.”
“Gone With the Wind, however, is its own unique problem. It doesn’t just ‘fall short’ with regard to representation. It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south. It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color,” he wrote.
However, Ridley did not call for the film to be permanently removed. “Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship,” he wrote. “I don’t think Gone With the Wind should be relegated to a vault in Burbank. I would just ask, after a respectful amount of time has passed, that the film be re-introduced to the HBO Max platform.” He suggested that it should be paired with films that depict the slave era more accurately, or “be placed in context that acknowledging the damaging aspects of the movie.”
That’s exactly what HBO Max plans to do. “When we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its 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,” the company said in a statement. “If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”
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