HBO Max has pulled the 1939 film "Gone With the Wind" from its library amid outcry over its depictions of African Americans as nationwide protests continue over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
The silver screen classic set in the post-Civil War South is the latest target in American culture flagged for censorship, but WarnerMedia — which owns HBO Max — claims the movie will eventually return to its platform along with a disclaimer regarding its content.
What are the details?
The death of Mr. Floyd, who was black, sparked demonstrations across the U.S. and renewed calls from activists demanding social change, including public promotion of the "Black Lives Matter" movement and an end to glorifying law enforcement.
A number of companies responded, including LEGO, which pulled the plug on marketing its police-themed toys, and Paramount Network, which permanently pulled the television show "Cops" off the air ahead of its 33rd season.
Now, HBO Max has agreed to yank "Gone With the Wind" from its library, after a filmmaker penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling for them to pull the movie from the platform until "a respectful amount of time has passed," and to re-introduce it "along with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were."
An HBO spokesperson told Variety:
'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.
Joseph Curl noted in The Daily Wire that "Gone With the Wind" not only won eight Academy Awards, "The film also featured a major milestone: Hattie McDaniel, who played 'Mammie' in the film, won for best supporting actress — the first African American to win an Oscar."