HBO Max Removed 'Gone With the Wind' — and Twitter Is Here For It

It'll be back with a "discussion of its historical context."

Update June 26, 2020: Gone With the Wind is back on HBO Max — with the addition of a new introduction with film scholar Jacqueline Stewart. In her intro video, she calls the movie a "major document of Hollywood's racist practices of the past." The new intro is available to watch on YouTube as well as HBO Max.

In addition to Stewart's new introduction, a TCM Classic Film Festival panel called "The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind," is also available to stream.

Cinematic touchstone Gone With the Wind is often lauded as a masterpiece of American cinema, but it's always been problematic, too. Today, newly launched HBO Max removed the title from its streaming lineup, citing racist depictions of Black people that don't align with parent company WarnerMedia's values. In a statement, a spokesperson explained that the film would return with "a discussion of its historical context," which would allow viewers to get more insight into the movie's specific place in the pantheon of classic movies.

Gone With the Wind Movie Still
Mondadori Portfolio / Contributor

"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," an HBO Max spokesperson told Deadline of the decision. "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."

Though HBO Max's decision to shelve the movie drew some ire, Twitter users stood behind the decision, even choosing to educate naysayers with a few fun facts and other movie recommendations to fill the Gone With the Wind-shaped hole in their queues.

Gone With the Wind has always been controversial. There were protests and picketing from the NAACP when the film debuted, according to ScreenRant. Back in 1936, Human Meyer wrote:

"The picture is a Negro-baiting film that will only encourage such organizations as the Klu Klux Klan and the Black Legion to continue their terrorism and their violations of civil rights. I feel that such a film will certainly not meet with the approval of the people but will be welcomed by the Fascists and Nazis of this country. Again let me urge you not to produce this 'UnAmerican' (sp?) film."

So, while the controversy around the film isn't new, it's keeping part of the movie's spirit alive. Proponents may simply say that it's "of its time," but neglect to mention that even during its time, it was problematic.

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