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HBO has pulled the 1939 American cinema classic ‘Gone with the Wind’ from its library of movies because of its “racist depictions.”
The film, which was streaming on the company’s HBO Max service, is no longer available to users, but the company said it would return “with a discussion of its historical context.”
The 1939 film, which won eight Academy Awards, tells the love story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler during the American Civil War. It is considered by many to be a triumph of American cinema and remains one of the most popular films ever made.
But the film romanticizes the Civil War-era South and has been strongly criticized in recent decades for its portrayal of slavery and African Americans.
“‘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,” a spokesperson for HBO Max said in a statement to the media. “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.”
The move came a day after the screenwriter of ‘12 Years a Slave’ John Ridley wrote an op-ed in the LA Times calling for the ‘Gone with the Wind’ to be removed because it “glorifies the antebellum south” and perpetuates racial stereotypes.
The film is used to “give cover to those who falsely claim that clinging to the iconography of the plantation era is a matter of ‘heritage, not hate,’” Ridley wrote.
It is unclear when ‘Gone with the Wind’ will be restored, but when it is, it will appear “as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed,” the HBO Max spokesperson said.
The decision to remove ‘Gone with the Wind’ comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a former cop in Minneapolis. Floyd’s horrific death, captured on camera by a bystander, has sparked widespread protests and riots across America, as well as a cultural reckoning with racism.
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As a part of that, media companies are looking at their libraries of content through a different lens.
Paramount Network announced Tuesday that it was canceling the show ‘Cops’, which has been running for 25 seasons, in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.
In the U.K., massive Black Lives Matter protests have prompted the BBC and Netflix to remove the comedy sketch show ‘Little Britain,’ in which one of the female characters was played by a male actor in blackface.
Cover: Scene from film version of ‘Gone with the Wind’ showing Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara attending a civil war ball March 7, 1939. (AP Photo)