HBO Max has temporarily removed “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming platform and plans to include a denouncement of and discussion about the film’s racist depictions upon its return.
The streaming service, from the AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, will eventually bring back the 1939 classic and add historical context to make it clear it does not condone the film’s prejudices while also not attempting to pretend those viewpoints did not exist, the company confirmed to the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Whoopi Goldberg led “The View” panelists in a discussion over how, as she saw it, censoring “Gone With the Wind” is unhelpful, but educating viewers on the film’s context is.
“If you start pulling every film, you’re going to have to pull … a very long list of films,” said Goldberg, the second black woman to win an acting Oscar after “Gone With the Wind” actress Hattie McDaniel won for playing Mammy.
Fellow “View” cohost Meghan McCain, the person who suggested that the “Gone With the Wind” controversy be their show’s “hot topic,” joined the conversation with a question about how to talk about the movie with her future child.
The expectant mom said that she would probably have to explain that “this is a fantastical, completely fictionalized version of the South during this time that was wrecked with slavery” before sharing the film, something she grew up watching.
Goldberg told McCain that in movies, “There’s a whole history of people that are not represented.”
Goldberg continued: “Probably what you’ll tell your child is what I tell my kids when they turn on movies and it takes place in New York and there are no people of color. We have to say: ‘We’re trying to do better now. These were great movies, (but) they weren’t as enlightened as we are now.'”
Megyn Kelly also chimed in over HBO Max’s removal of the film on Wednesday morning.
“Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too?” she tweeted. “Where does this end?”
She reasoned that if “Gone With the Wind” were to be removed, then the same logic would also lead to the removal of episodes of “Friends” and “Game of Thrones,” anything by John Hughes and Woody Allen, etc. “Let’s keep it going until all we have left is The Queen and Captain America,” she said.
Based on a 1936 book by Margaret Mitchell, “Gone With the Wind” is a historical epic about a romance between Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a gambler who joins the Confederacy.
It is widely considered one of the greatest films in American cinematic history, has also long been criticized for romanticizing depictions of slavery and the Civil War-era south. Some theaters in recent years have pulled the old movie from their rotation, dubbing it “racially insensitive.”
It took home nine trophies at the 1940 Academy Awards, including best supporting actress for McDaniel, who became the first African American to win an Oscar.
Protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death have forced entertainment companies to grapple with the appropriateness of both current and past productions. On Tuesday, the Paramount Network dropped the long-running reality series “Cops” after 33 seasons. The BBC also removed episodes of “Little Britain,” a comedy series that featured a character in blackface, from its streaming service.
In an op-ed Monday in the Los Angeles Times, the filmmaker John Ridley urged WarnerMedia to take down “Gone With the Wind,” arguing that it “romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was — a bloody insurrection to maintain the ‘right’ to own, sell and buy human beings.”
The “Gone With The Wind” removal comes on the heels of news that HBO Max’s “Looney Tunes Cartoons” reboot will not include infamous rabbit hunter Elmer Fudd’s cartoon rifle.
“We’re not doing guns,” Peter Browngardt, the series’ executive producer and showrunner, told the New York Times. “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in.”
Like all characters on the throwback animated series that started last week on HBO Max, Fudd will be gun-free. The new episodes harken back to the Looney Tunes, which had their peak in the 1940s and 1950s heyday, in every other way – filled with cartoonish dynamite explosions and intricate ACME-brand booby traps.
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.