HBO Max has quietly pulled the Academy Award-winning 1939 film “Gone with the Wind” as Hollywood assesses its content in the wake of the George Floyd death and the widespread nationwide protests that continue to follow.
According to HBO Max in a statement, the film runs counter to WarnerMedia’s values.
“ ‘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,” the statement said. “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.”
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 is an epic Southern romantic historical drama that remains the highest grossing film of all time after adjusting for inflation. Set in Atlanta during the Civil War period, the movie and the book it was based on written by Margaret Mitchell became part of the city’s lore and for many older generations, its allure.
Ted Turner acquired the MGM library of films in 1986 in part because he loved the film so much. A year later, he received the exclusive right to air “Gone with the Wind” on his network TBS, noting: “This is terrific. We now have the television rights to the greatest movie ever made.''
Turner eventually sold his empire to Time Warner, now owned by AT&T, which recently launched HBO Max.
In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times Monday before HBO Max made the move, “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter and director John Ridley argued that the movie “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.”
He didn’t say the film should be placed in a vault forever but to temporarily place it on hiatus.
“I don’t believe in censorship,” Ridley 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. Or, perhaps 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.”
In other developments, the reality show “Cops” was cancelled by Paramount Network after more than three decades on the air, mostly on Fox. A&E’s “Live PD,” a popular police reality show that generally places cops in a positive light, has been pulled from the schedule for the time being as well.
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