HBO Max has only been operational for two weeks, but is already finding that people have issues with its content. Gone With the Wind is a multiple award-winning classic and in the run up to the streaming service’s launch was often mentioned as a highlight, but it’s now been removed from the library due to the dated issues that plague it.
As a film about life in the antebellum South made in the late ‘30s, there are a number of troubling issues with its story, most notably its glorification of slavery that portrays slaves as being content with their lives and ignores the horrific abuse they endured at the hands and whips of their masters, also characterizing them via various stereotypes.
The issues with the film have been apparent for many years and are the topic of regular discussion, but in spite of them, the movie was still selected to go into HBO Max’s library. It can only be assumed that as African Americans are making their voices heard loud and clear across the country about the unacceptability of how they’re perceived and treated in a nation that purports all its citizens are equal, it would be more than a little tone-deaf to continue to stream a film that despite its enduring popularity, is nevertheless racist at its core.
A spokesperson for HBO Max made a statement to explain the company’s reasoning and what they intend to do next, saying:
“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.”
Gone With the Wind will always remain untouchable in the annals of American cinema, but it’s important to not let the popularity or significance of a creative work render it immune from criticism. To do so is to give a free pass to the immortalization of hateful prejudice just because it was made in a time when such voices were the accepted mainstream, which is not entirely unlike how we got to this point in the first place.