Streamer HBO Max has temporarily pulled 1939 classic “Gone With the Wind” from its library of films following the ongoing mass protests across the country following the murder of George Floyd. The film, which tells the love story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Cable) during the American Civil War, is considered by many to be a cinematic classic. But the portrayal of slavery, African Americans and the Civil War South has been received much more critically in the decades since its release.
“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,” said a spokesperson for HBO Max. “When the film returns to HBO Max, it will be 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.
The removal of “Gone With the Wind” comes after John Ridley, the screenwriter of “12 Years a Slave,” asked HBO Max 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,” he wrote. “The movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalize a history that never was.”