Last week, amid national civil rights protests, HBO Max made the decision to remove the classic film Gone with the Wind from the streaming service's library. Subscribers were told that the movie would return to the service at some point in the future, with new material designed to put the movie in the right context, and now we know what that means, as a new introduction is being filmed that will be included with the movie when it returns to HBO Max.
While we don't know right now when Gone with the Wind will return to HBO Max, we do know that when it does, it will include a new introduction from Turner Classic Movies host and University of Chicago professor of cinema studios, Jacqueline Stewart. Stewart revealed the new introduction in an op-ed piece for CNN in which she argued that it was important for movies like Gone with the Wind to remain available as teaching moments. According to Stewart...
But it is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that Gone with the Wind should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis and discussion. Gone with the Wind is a prime text for examining expressions of white supremacy in popular culture.
The recent outcry against Gone with the Wind came began when 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley wrote a piece in the Los Angeles Times saying the film "romanticizes the horrors of slavery" and specifically calling on HBO to remove the film from the streaming service. The decision to do so followed in short order, but it was made clear from the outset that the movie would be back up at some point, but with new content attached designed to put the film in context.
We've seen a variety of different ways that studios have handled material that hasn't necessarily aged well. Warner Bros. had previously created a disclaimer that had appeared in front of some Looney Tunes animated shorts that included some problematic ethnic elements. Disney+ warns that some of its decades old content might include "outdated cultural depictions."
It's unclear how extensive this new introduction to Gone with the Wind will be. If it's truly meant to simply be an introduction, it will likely only be a few minutes long, and thus, the turn around on getting it up on HBO Max could be quite fast. At the same time, with tensions surrounding racial justice still high, there likely won't be any rush to get Gone with the Wind back on the service.
Having said that, there will likely be a lot of interest in Gone with the Wind when it does return to HBO Max, probably more than there was when it launched on the service in the first place.