HBO Max recently removed Gone With the Wind from their newly launched streaming service earlier this week in the wake of protests, looting, and rioting following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The removal also came after a piece in the Los Angeles Times by 12 Years a Slave director John Ridley who called for the film’s removal. The article’s headline read, “Hey HBO, ‘Gone With the Wind’ romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform now.”
At the time of its removal, HBO Max released a statement reading, “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.”
The statement continued, “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 movie garnered eight Oscars including the first Oscar for actress Hattie McDaniel.
Following the removal of the film, HBO’s decision was heavily criticized and they were accused of caving to a social media mob. Many pointed out that Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman to win an Oscar and inspired future generations to pursue acting.
— Deneen Borelli (@deneenborelli) June 10, 2020
#GoneWithTheWind is a classic and a favorite of many people, black and white alike. Most understand that the characters were stereotypes, but there are lessons to learn from history and such portrayals in film that are terribly undermined by erasing such images from public view. pic.twitter.com/8hOqrsOOax
— Jayne Theory 📺 (@JayneTheory) June 10, 2020
Seriously, now #GoneWithTheWind is being cancelled?
Is the world rapidly losing the plot altogether? 🤦♂️
Orwell couldn’t have predicted this even in his wildest imagination.https://t.co/4PNysuKAuz
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) June 10, 2020
— Mehdi Mirghaderi 👑 (@mobarez_nastooh) June 10, 2020
For those who’ve never read nor watched #GoneWithTheWind & are applauding @hbomax on their decision to pull it, here are 2 interesting facts for you;
1. Written by a woman
2. First time a black woman OR man won an Oscar EVER (Hattie McDaniel – best supporting actress) pic.twitter.com/tNqz2SDXrh
— Lady Gravemaster (@LadyGravemaster) June 10, 2020
Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too? Guess how many films we’ll have left?Where does this end?? https://t.co/Bh8mqpv0l3
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 10, 2020
Remove a film featuring one of the seminal, groundbreaking performances by a black female in the history of cinema. One that allowed generations of black women to become actors.
That’ll show those racists. https://t.co/Kb4BE1Tosz
— RazörFist (@RAZ0RFIST) June 10, 2020
WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt would defend the decision to remove the film from HBO Max in an appearance on SirusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.
As reported by TheWrap, Greenblat stated, “It was sort of a no brainer, I mean, we have the best of intentions obviously here.”
He added, “I don’t regret taking it down for a second. I only wish we had put it up in the first place with the disclaimer. And we just didn’t do that.”
Greenblatt later talked about how the film is normally presented by Turner Classic Movies, “They’ve talked about some of the racial stereotypes and some of issues with how the Civil War is portrayed, which is much more positive than focusing on slavery the darker side of that issue.”
“If it was on the linear network, it wouldn’t need it because they’re often talking about these issues. We failed to put the disclaimer in there, which sets up the issue, basically the issues that this movie really brings up,” he added.
Greenblatt then detailed that they do plan to bring the movie back with a disclaimer, “So, we took it off and we’re going to bring it back with a proper context, and it’s what we should have done.”
When the movie does return to HBO Max, Greenblatt indicated they will also be including a panel discussion from the TCM film festival discussing the film’s legacy and racial issues.
Greenblatt also added, “This is a complicated film, undeniably one of the most watched films of all time, and most award winning. And it has these issues which are not insignificant. Especially, you know in this moment in the world that we’re in right now. We really do want to put the right context around it.”
He also stated, “We shouldn’t deny that they exist, we should show them to people, but also in the right context. And, hopefully shed some light on these issues, which you know, affected Hollywood. The last century in Hollywood, there are many darker moments on film that we need to talk about.”
The introduction of a disclaimer would not be out of the ordinary. When the Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection was released to DVD, Warner Home Video included an introduction to the series from Whoopi Goldberg that provided a short history of the duo and an explanation of some of the racial elements that were featured in the cartoon.
They would replicate this with Looney Tunes as well.
What do you make of Greenblatt’s defense of removing the film from HBO Max?