According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 1939 classic and Best Picture Winner “Gone With the Wind” has been pulled from HBO Max’s movie line up until a “discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions of Black people and slavery” is made.
The film has become a controversial lightening rod over the past few years, with some theaters pulling it from their line up and many criticizing the romanticizing of slavery.
12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley published an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, calling for HBO to remove the film from their line up.
“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.
It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the “Lost Cause,” 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.
The movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalize a history that never was. And it continues to give cover to those who falsely claim that clinging to the iconography of the plantation era is a matter of “heritage, not hate.”
Ridley went on to say he didn’t want the film to be censored or locked away in a vault, but instead, frame conversation pieces around the movie to talk about how the representations of slavery in the film is wrong.
HBO responded to the piece by pulling the movie and issuing this statement:
“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. 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, so 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. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”
The film won eight Oscars at the 12th Academy Awards, including the first award for a black actress. Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, won for Best Supporting Actress but had to sit separate from her co-stars due to segregation laws.