‘Gone With the Wind’ Returns to HBO Max with Disclaimer About How 1939 Film ‘Denies the Horrors of Slavery’

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Rock Cellar Magazine

The classic 1939 film Gone With the Wind was pulled from the HBO Max streaming service on June 10 in the wake of protests and civil unrest stemming from the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hand of police in Minneapolis.

At the time, HBO Max billed this as a “temporary” decision, issuing a statement explaining its motivations in removing Gone with the Wind, stating that the film is ” … a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society. 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.”

HBO Max has since restored the film to the service, with Gone With the Wind reappearing on the platform this week — but with a four-minute disclaimer that introduces the film in proper historical context.

Per Variety, the new introduction features Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart discusses “why this 1939 epic drama should be viewed in its original form, contextualized and discussed.”

There is also an hour-long “The Complicated Legacy of ‘Gone With the Wind” panel discussion filmed at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April of 2019.

Other segments from the new disclaimer, per Variety:

At the same time, “The film has been repeatedly protested, dating back the announcement of its production,” Stewart says. “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 enslaved Black people in “Gone With the Wind” conform to old racial stereotypes, “as servants notable for their devotion to their white masters or for their ineptitude,” Stewart says. She continues, “The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

“Watching ‘Gone With the Wind’ can be uncomfortable, even painful,” Stewart says. “Still, it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.”

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