HBO Max apparently does give a damn.
The new streaming service announced Tuesday that it was removing “Gone With The Wind” from its playlist, but said it would eventually make the 1939 Civil War drama available uncensored with an explanation of its historical context and a condemnation of its racism.
″‘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,” HBO Max said in a statement, per Deadline. “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.”
John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “12 Years A Slave,” denounced “Gone With The Wind” on Monday for glorifying the antebellum South.
“It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color,” Ridley wrote in the Los Angeles Times.
He urged HBO Max to omit it for the time being until perspective and perhaps a disclaimer could be provided. Emphasizing that he was not advocating censorship, Ridley asked HBO parent company WarnerMedia to respect the national outcry against racism following the police killing of George Floyd.
“At a moment when we are all considering what more we can do to fight bigotry and intolerance, I would ask that all content providers look at their libraries and make a good-faith effort to separate programming that might be lacking in its representation from that which is blatant in its demonization,” he wrote.
The Southern plantation-set romance, starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, won eight Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to receive an Oscar.
Here’s HBO Max’s full 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.