HBO Max announced that it will be removing the 1939 American film, Gone With the Wind from its catalog following a Los Angeles Times op-ed call-out titled, "Hey, HBO, Gone With the Wind romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform for now."
In the write up, John Ridley, screenwriter for the film 12 Years a Slave and creator of TV series American Crime, discusses why the classic film "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."
Ridley argues that HBO should remove Gone With the Wind temporarily, and return to the streaming service "after a respectful amount of time ... along with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were." Ridley explains that the film not only glorifies the antebellum south, but perpetuates dangerous racial stereotypes while completely disregarding the "horrors of slavery."
HBO Max saw and definitely listened, emphasizing their understanding in a statement that the movie would eventually return to the streaming service along with "an explanation and a denouncement" of its "racist depictions."
Though HBO thought it best to heed Ridley's advice and remove the film from its catalog until it can be properly addressed, the internet didn't necessarily agree. Many took to Twitter expressing concern that the removal of a controversial classic, like Gone With the Wind, only serves to further neglect the history of racism in the US, and more specifically, Hollywood.
See below for HBO's full statement:
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.
Photo via Getty/ Bettmann
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