HBO Max has temporarily removed the film Gone with the Wind from its streaming library in order to add context and denounce the acclaimed movie’s depictions of slavery and implicit racism.
In a statement, the AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Max — an American subscription video-on-demand streaming service — called Gone With the Wind "a product of its time" that depicts the corresponding racial prejudices.
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 film based on a 1936 book of the same title by Margaret Mitchell that chronicles the epic romance between Scarlett O’Hara (portrayed by Vivien Leigh), the daughter of a plantation owner, and Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable), a gambler, who joins the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
It remains the highest-grossing film of all time and won eight Academy Awards, including best picture and best supporting actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first black actress to be nominated or to win an Oscar.
“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,” a WarnerMedia spokesman said.
The film will be shown it its original form, the spokesman confirmed, arguing that “to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."
Protests sparked by the death of George Floyd have swept across the nation as institutions grapple with how to combat systemic racism and injustice.
Screenwriter John Ridley wrote in the Los Angeles Times this week to call for the removal of Gone with the Wind from the streaming platform.
“I don't believe in censorship," Ridley wrote. "I would just ask, after a respectful amount of time has passed, that the film be re-introduced to the HBO Max platform, along with other films, that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were."
HBO Max’s decision follows the removal of Little Britain, a British comedy show that ran from 2003 to 2007, from Netflix, BritBox and BBC iPlayer. According to the BBC, the show portrayed white actors in blackface. The show’s creators have previously stated that they would not make the same series again, CNBC reported.
ViacomCBS canceled the long-running reality TV show Cops in the wake of the protests against police brutality. A&E also has pulled episodes of its reality police show Live PD, and Discovery’s Body Cam has been canceled.