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HBO Max Removes ‘Gone With the Wind’ From Library Due to Racist Depictions

Fern Siegel

The 1939 film “Gone With the Wind” has been removed from HBO Max’s lineup.

Starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, the movie won 10 Oscars, including a best supporting actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first black actor to win an Academy Award.

In the decades since its release, the movie has been criticized for its depiction of slavery. But since the murder of George Floyd, networks and streamers are reexamining their inventory. (Paramount Network canceled “Cops,” which is in its 33rd TV season.)

HBO Max’s decision came a day after screenwriter John Riley (“12 Years a Slave”) wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asking WarnerMedia to remove the film from circulation. He cited its racist imagery and romanticized version of the Confederacy.

Riley added he did not want “Gone With the Wind” permanently removed from exhibition, as he doesn’t endorse censorship. “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,” he wrote.

HBO Max issued this statement:

“Gone With the Wind” 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.

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.

In a similar action last year, Disney+ said it would not house the 1946 movie “Song of the South,” given its depiction of slavery.

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