Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Gone with the Wind was recently removed from HBO Max’s offerings temporarily due to concerns regarding the depictions of racism and slavery in the historic film about the Civil War.
HBO Max is the world’s newest streaming website, which offers properties belonging to WarnerMedia and HBO premium titles. It streams some of the world’s most popular titles, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, the DC cinematic universe and several classic films.
Gone with the Wind, the brainchild of legendary and Academy Award winning producer David O’Selznick, is the most successful film of all time with an estimated nearly $4 billion in box office totals when adjusted for inflation.
But this week, HBO Max decided to temporarily pull the film from its offerings citing the “racist depictions” made in a film.
In a statement, an HBO Max spokesperson said, “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 1939 epic is a love story of two people who lived through the time period before and after the Civil War. Slavery was part of that culture at the time, and a critical part of heroine Scarlett O’Hara’s life.
Hattie McDaniel’s performance as “Mammy” resulted in her becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award. In accepting the honor, the Kansas native exclaimed, “My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel.”
Though debate surrounding the film has intensified, criticism over the past decade has been pointed.
Filmmaker John Ridley wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that the film “glorifies the antebellum south” and “perpetuates ‘some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.’”
“You can’t sweep history under the rug,” USC professor of media and cinema studies Todd Boyd told the Los Angeles Times. “But it’s important to have context whenever you’re viewing material of this kind. Otherwise, people can embrace and celebrate it without dealing with the whole truth.”
Over the years, films and television series have facilitated a wide range of cultural conversations, though it’s growing increasingly more difficult to separate fact from fiction. As we all know, even “historical” films can take significant liberty with actual events.
Former Fox News and NBC News reporter, Megyn Kelly, suggested HBO’s decision could be the tip of the iceberg.
“Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too?” she asked on Twitter. “Guess how many films we’ll have left? Where does this end?”
In another sharp tweet, Kelly added, “People understand art reflects life… as we evolve, so do our cultural touchstones.”
Executives suggest that when Gone with the Wind returns, there will be a “discussion of its historical context” and it will denounce any of its racially insensitive depictions onscreen. At this time, there are no plans to edit the film.
Photo from Wikipedia