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.
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.
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.
My only opinion on Gone with the Wind right now is I find it hilarious so many racists are pretending they want it on HBO Max because it made Hattie McDaniel the first black person to win an Oscar
— Ira Madison III (@ira) June 10, 2020
If @hbomax really wants to do something about Gone With the Wind, they should take a look at @gmgeiko's script Selznick's Folly, a Hattie McDaniel biopic centered on the making of the film. (She's also an alumna of the @WomenInFilm/@theblcklst Episodic lab for a different script)
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) June 10, 2020
For those who are citing Hattie McDaniel's win for Gone With The Wind, please also share she wasn't allowed to sit at table with her film's white colleagues and fellow nominees. They put her at a small, isolated table far away.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) June 10, 2020
So we can’t acknowledge the triumph that is Hattie McDaniel now? Gone with the Wind is still a part of our history. We cannot erase what was, but viewing a film like this with OPEN eyes- we can certainly learn and help change future story telling. https://t.co/k9dSZDPIQI
— Ariana DeBose (@ArianaDeBose) June 10, 2020
the thing about Gone With the Wind is that it deliberately falsifies history in order to encourage racist violence and hatred. It is literally the kind of propaganda that Orwell is talking about in 1984. https://t.co/5qQt2pwZfy
— Noah Berlatsky (@nberlat) June 10, 2020
"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.