HBO Max has removed the classic film “Gone with the Wind” from its streaming library after it came under fire for allegedly depicting black characters in a negative light.
The 1939 Oscar winner, which is set during the American Civil War, is also accused of romanticizing the Confederacy by critics who targeted it amid nationwide unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department last month.
“‘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,” an HBO representative told Variety.
HBO announced the decision to remove the classic American film Tuesday. It said the movie would eventually return, but only after it meets parent company WarnerMedia’s “values.”
“[The film] 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 HBO representative said.
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“If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”
The 81-year-old film was initially targeted by John Ridley, who wrote the screenplay for the 2013 Oscar-winning film”12 Years a Slave.”
In an Op-Ed published this week in the Los Angeles Times, Ridley asked HBO Max to remove the film.
“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,” the screenwriter wrote.
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“The movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalize a history that never was,” Ridley said.
“Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship,” he wrote. “I would just ask, after a respectful amount of time has passed, that the film be re-introduced to the HBO Max platform along with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were.”
Ridley concluded that HBO Max should only reintroduce the film if it “could be paired with conversations about narratives and why it’s important to have many voices sharing stories from different perspectives rather than merely those reinforcing the views of the prevailing culture.”
“Gone with the Wind” was adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name.
The film adaptation starred Hollywood icon Clark Gable and British two-time Oscar winner Vivien Leigh.
The movie became an instant classic upon its release and won eight Oscars at the 12th Academy Awards.
“Gone with the Wind” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1989.
News that the film had been pulled from HBO Max came just before the birthday of one of its stars, Hattie McDaniel. The actress, who died in 1952, was the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
Also today: HBO Max pulls Gone w/ the Wind from catalogue: https://t.co/0pZcOBcNBb
Notable irony if nothing else
— Mark Y. Rosenberg (@myrosenbrg) June 10, 2020
It also came the same day that the long-running reality TV show “Cops” was permanently canceled by the Paramount Network amid a growing anti-police sentiment across the country and in Hollywood.
“‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a representative of the network told Entertainment Tonight.
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