HBO Max Has Removed A Classic Movie In Response To Civil Rights Protests

Gone with the Wind

Protests around the U.S. and around the world have caused a lot of people to reexamine issues of race in America in all parts of life, and that includes entertainment. On June 8, 12 Years a Slave, screenwriter John Ridley wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times where he asked HBO to remove Gone with the Wind from the HBO Max streaming service because it "romanticizes the horrors of slavery." HBO has now responded, by doing exactly that.

Gone with the Wind is no longer available on the service, though HBO says the movie will return at some point with new material designed to discuss, and condemn, the film's historical depictions.

Gone with the Wind is, accounting for inflation, still one of the most successful movies ever made and it's also one of the most critically acclaimed. The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, it would win eight, while also being awarded another honorary award as well as a special one for technical achievement.

One of the awards the film would win was the Best Supporting Actress award, which went to Hattie McDaniel. She became the first African-American to win an acting Oscar. McDaniel had to come to the stage from her segregated seat at the back of the auditorium to accept the award.

Gone with the Wind is set in Georgia during the days surrounding the American Civil War. The white southern characters are certainly the heroes of the story, and so it is seen by many as spinning the era of American slavery in a positive light. In a statement from HBO to THR, it was made clear that when the movie returns to the HBO Max service, the film itself will remain unchanged, but new material will be included that puts the movie into context...

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.

Gone with the Wind certainly isn't the first piece of media that has had to deal with the way perspectives have changed over time. Everything from animated Disney movies to Looney Tunes have seen situations where something created decades ago, that was seen as normal and acceptable at the time, is looked at very differently through a modern lens. There is no real consensus as to exactly how to handle these situations. While removing the offending material from circulation is one option, as the HBO statement makes clear, there's also a fear doing so has the effect of not only erasing the problematic material, but making it seem as if the problem never existed as well.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.