HBO Max just pulled Gone with the Wind from its lineup of films.
In case you just arrived on the planet, the film tells thestory of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler during the American Civil War, is considered by most to be a cinematic classic. It is one of the most popular film in cinematic history.
But the film’s portrayal of slavery, African Americans and the Civil War South has been received MUCH more critically in the decades since its release… to say the least.
A spokesperson for HBO Max said,
“Gone with the Wind 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…
It will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions,” and 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.”
John Ridley, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asking HBO to take the film out of its rotation,
“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 movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalize a history that never was.”
Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship. 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.”
Oscar wins, fantastic cinematography and amazing story-telling does not erase what the war being fought in the film was about.
The reactions I’ve seen by white people to the op-ed by Ridley and HBO Max’s decision show just how deeply embedded racism is in this country. So embedded many whites can’t even see it, even when it’s in wide-screen Panavision.
Today is Hattie McDaniel’s birthday. Read Stephen Rutledge’s #BornThisDay She was not allowed to attend the World Premiere of GWTW in Atlanta, among other indignities.