Gone with the Wind has returned to HBO Max, together with two new movies that debate the historic context and racial stereotypes of the 1939 Civil War epic. The movie was faraway from the streaming service earlier this month after an opinion piece written by John Ridley, screenwriter for 12 Years a Slave, argued that it romanticized the horrors of slavery.
The movie doesn’t simply “fall short” in its depictions of Black individuals, wrote Ridley; it glorifies myths concerning the Antebellum South. “It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”
WarnerMedia agreed with the criticism and eliminated the movie, saying in an announcement: “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.” It promised to return it to the service later alongside further context.
The movies which have now been added embody a 4.5-minute intro phase that routinely performs if you choose the movie (however it may be skipped) and an hour-long panel dialogue filmed on the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2019 and titled “The Complicated Legacy of ‘Gone With the Wind.’” This may be performed individually.
As reported by Variety, the intro is hosted by Black movie scholar Jacqueline Stewart, who describes Gone with the Wind as “one of most enduringly popular films of all time.” Stewart notes that it portrays “the Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based.”
Stewart says the film was protested earlier than it even premiered and that its producer, David O. Selznick, “was well aware that Black audiences were deeply concerned about the film’s handling of the topic of slavery and its treatment of Black characters.”
The movie depicts enslaved Black individuals as racial stereotypes, says Stewart: “servants notable for their devotion to their white masters or for their ineptitude.” These characters embody Mammy, a home servant performed by Hattie McDaniel, who grew to become the primary Black individual to win an Oscar however was not allowed to sit down with the solid in the course of the awards on account of racial segregation.
Stewart says the movie’s “treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality” however argues it ought to nonetheless be accessible to viewers. “Watching ‘Gone With the Wind’ can be uncomfortable, even painful,” she says. “Still, it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.”
HBO Max will not be alone in including such disclaimers to sure movies and TV reveals. The 1941 cartoon Dumbo on Disney Plus, for instance, contains the disclaimer: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
Similarly, Tom and Jerry cartoons launched by Warner Home Video which might be accessible on streaming companies like Amazon carry the extra explicit warning that the cartoons “depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society,” however that to censor them “would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”