Earlier today news got out that HBO Max had pulled the classic movie Gone With The Wind from its streaming services including TCM. The film has long been called a classic and studied around America as it is seen as one of the gems of the film industry, with a run time of over four hours.
A statement from HBO “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”
When the film was released in 1939 it would become the highest grossing film of all time when box office totals are adjusted for inflation. Based on the Margaret Mitchell book, with the same name, the story is set around the time of the Civil War and about a family that lives on a plantation estate set in the South.
In recent years critics and writers have stated the film has not aged well. But debate around the story of Gone With The Wind actually predates the film and occurred in 1936 when the book was released with critics debating the book has positive portrayals of plantation life and slavery even showing sympathy towards the Confederacy cause. After watching the film and reading the book, critics back in 1936 were correct and the more we continue to educate and make ourselves aware the likelihood of these realizations will continue.
But this isn’t the first time the film has run into controversy in recent years. Back in 2017 the film was dropped from its annual screening at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis Tennessee, where it had been playing annually for over 34 years. The film stopped screening following complaints from numerous individuals that it was insensitive and portrayed slavery in a positive light.
“You can’t sweep history under the rug. But it is important to have context whenever you’re viewing material of this kind. Otherwise, people can embrace and celebrate it without dealing with the whole truth” says USC professor of media and cinema studies Todd Boyd.
But as the protests continue around the world about racial bias and the mistreatment of people of color, companies are continuing to reconsider their values and views and making changes for the good.
HBO Max has announced that Gone With The Wind will eventually return but with a warning.
Follow Matt D’Silva on Twitter @MattDSilva
Another Australian living in New York seeing what experiences it will bring. Don’t get me wrong, this has been a dream… about 16 years in the making!