Streaming service HBO Max has announced its decision to remove the 1939 classic film, Gone With The Wind, from its library of offerings out of sensitivity to increased racial tensions in the nation. Specifically, the film is being removed after a public request was made of HBO to do so in an online op-ed.
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The film, while inarguably one of the most loved in history, is at the same time considered by many to be the essence of racism for its depiction of Civil War-era slavery.
HBO Max’s removal of the film, the service made sure to note, is only temporary.
HBO Max’s surprising announcement
In light of the recent and ongoing protests against police brutality in the US and worldwide, HBO Max announced this week that the eight-time Oscar-winning film, Gone With The Wind, which famously starred Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Hattie McDaniel, and Olivia De Havilland, would no longer be offered on the streaming service. For now.
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According to Variety, the June 2020 announcement from HBO Max states, “‘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.”
The streaming service plans on returning the film to their collection, once a disclaimer of sorts has been prepared for it, condemning the depiction of racism in the film. As well, historical context will be provided for the film once HBO Max reinstates it.
A date for the film’s return to HBO Max was not provided.
The public request that led to HBO Max’s removal of ‘Gone With The Wind’
The move on the part of HBO Max seems to have come immediately after a published op-ed column by 12 Years a Slave director, John Ridley, in the Los Angeles Times on June 8, 2020.
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The screenwriter, director, and showrunner made his case in his op-ed titled, “Hey, HBO, ‘Gone With the Wind’ romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform for now.”
And HBO Max complied within hours of Ridley’s request, which read in part, ““Gone With the Wind,” . . . 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.”
Twitter reacts to the film’s removal from HBO Max
Twitter, of course, is reacting to HBO Max’s news, and the reactions are a little more animated than “Fiddle dee dee!”
“You’re cancelling the first Oscar-winning performance by a black actress,” tweeted one fan of the film. “Brilliant.”
Another tweet noted, “A director calling for censorship is pretty messed up.”
Many of the tweets, perhaps, were unaware of HBO Max’s plan to return the film, eventually, to its line-up, along with accompanying commentary on its troubling depiction of slavery.
“So what will we use to teach our kids,” a tweet asked, “to think critically and to question what’s right or wrong when we strip our world of examples in films like GWTW. Let’s just remove History classes altogether. It’s all problematic.”
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