Gone With the Wind has been pulled from HBO Max. Here’s why.
It goes without saying that we are living in transformative times. The world is smaller than ever, and many of the atrocities we have committed as humans are being put front-and-center. With great impending change, it’s hard to look at those uglier aspects present in older films. Racism is certainly one of those things. As time has progressed, films from the past become a bit more difficult to watch. Suddenly, those little bits of racism feel a lot more glaring than they did before.
That’s true of virtually any piece of art, be it literature, film, or television. One film people always point to is the Disney film Song of the House — and it’s telling that Disney no longer sells the movie. But most other studios without Disney’s family appeal have largely kept their library intact. However, with the launch of the recent HBO Max, one Hollywood classic is getting a second look from Warner Bros.
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Gone With the Wind — the classic technicolor Civil War epic — launched alongside the platform. I personally saw this movie once back in middle school and was planning on revisiting some time in the next couple of weeks. But I may have to wait a bit, as HBO Max unexpectedly pulled the film from their service. An HBO spokesperson recently made a statement to THR. Here’s what was 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. 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.”
This pull comes in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the Black Lives Matter protest. At this current stage, racism is an especially sensitive subject for many Americans. As such, it makes sense that 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley would speak out. The scribe published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times urging HBO Max to “consider removing” the film from its catalog.
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“It doesn’t just ‘fall short’ with regard to representation,” Ridley wrote. “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.”
Ridley added: “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.”
Personally, I think HBO Max has made the right choice here. I think returning the film in its original form with some extra context given is important. As was said in the statement, to ignore that these racial prejudices never existed is just whitewashing the problem. At this stage, I don’t think this helps anyone.
Do you think HBO Max made the right move? Were you sad to see Gone With the Wind disappear? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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