As protests continue around the world following the murder of George Floyd, WarnerMedia and HBO Max has announced that it has decided to temporarily remove the Oscar-winning 1939 Civil War epic Gone with the Wind from the recently launched streaming service due to its “racist depictions”.
“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,” reads the official statement from HBO Max. “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.”
Based on the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind takes place in the American South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. The film adaptation was hugely successful upon its release, winning eight Academy Awards (including a Best Supporting Actress award for Hattie McDaniel, which made her the first person of colour to win an Oscar) and becoming the highest-grossing movie of all-time – a title it still holds when adjusting for inflation, with some $3.7 billion in box office receipts.
However, it has also long been criticised for its depiction of racial stereotypes and perpetuating of Civil War myths, and the decision to remove it from HBO Max’s line-up came just a day after 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley shared an op-ed on The Los Angeles Times urging WarnerMedia to consider pulling the film.