HBO Max Pulls 'Gone With The Wind' Due To Racist Depictions

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
HBO Max Pulls 'Gone With The Wind' Due To Racist Depictions

HBO says they’re pulling Gone With The Wind to add a disclaimer about ‘historical context’

HBO Max has pulled Gone With The Wind from its catalog following an opinion piece written by John Ridley. Ridley, who wrote the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave, argued that the 1938 epic perpetuates “painful stereotypes of people of color” in addition to “ignoring the horrors of slavery.” The op-ed, published in the LA Times, led to WarnerMedia removing the film from its HBO streaming platform.

The film, starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and Hattie McDaniel, centers around the Tara plantation in Georgia at the onset of the Civil War. While it’s up there with The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca as far as celebrated, sweeping Old Hollywood films go, Gone With The Wind is undeniably racist. It basically offers viewers a rose-colored view of the “Old South” and glorifies the Confederacy while completely glossing over slavery.

Sure, there are lots of pretty costumes and notable lines and Vivien Leigh’s scathing looks as Scarlett O’Hara are everything, but the whole premise for the film is bad. Not just “oh I’m looking at it through a 2020 lens” bad, but… bad bad. You can love and appreciate the film as a relic of American entertainment history and recognize it’s problematic in about a thousand different ways at the same time — it’s a very nuanced Venn diagram.

And yes, Hattie McDaniel became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for her performance, but she wasn’t even allowed to sit with her co-stars during the ceremony. She had to sit in a storage area where they put all the Oscars, and she wasn’t permitted to celebrate with her co-stars after the show, either. (Her acceptance speech is lovely and her history is worth exploring independently, FWIW.)

Lots of people on social media weighed on the decision to remove the movie.

A WarnerMedia spokesperson confirms the decision to pull the movie, telling The Verge that the movie will eventually return to HBO Max with a disclaimer of sorts to educate viewers.

“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 spokesperson says. “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 statement continues: “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.”

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