HBO Max has temporarily removed the classic film Gone With the Wind from its movie library following a number of calls to do so, in light of the ongoing global protests for racial equality. When the film returns, it will carry a disclaimer.
In a statement, the streamer 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.”
ScreenRant first reported the news of Gone With the Wind’s removal from the HBO Max archives. The film, released in 1939, won ten Oscars and became one of the top-earning movies of all time, and was prominently featured in HBO Max’s initial advertising push. But its romantic depiction of Civil War-era America and whitewashing of slavery is seen as problematic by many modern-day viewers, especially in light of the current social unrest regarding racism and police violence.
Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) called for Gone With the Wind to be removed from HBO Max for the time being in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published this week, calling it “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.” Others joined Ridley online in asking that the movie be shelved.
HBO Max is not the only network changing its programming in light of the public outcry surrounding the protests: Paramount Network officially cancelled the police docuseries Cops after a more than three-decade run, and A&E Network has pulled new episodes of Live PD. HBO Max has also removed all guns from its new Looney Tunes Cartoons series, apparently in response to U.S. gun violence.