Why Gone with the Wind has been taken off HBO

Thursday, 11th June 2020, 1:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th June 2020, 1:43 pm

Gone with the Wind has been taken off HBO Max following calls for it to be removed from the US streaming service.

HBO Max said the 1939 film was “a product of its time” and depicted “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and are wrong today”.

It said the film would return to the platform at an unspecified date with a “discussion of its historical context”.

Set during and after the American Civil War, Gone with the Wind has long been attacked for its depiction of slavery.

Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, it features slave characters who seem contented with their lot and who remain loyal to their former owners after slavery’s abolition.

Gone with the Wind received 10 Oscars and remains the highest-grossing movie of all time when its takings are adjusted for inflation.

Hattie McDaniel became the first black actress to be nominated for, and win, an Academy Award for her role as domestic servant Mammy.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times this week, screenwriter John Ridley said the film “glorifies the antebellum south” and perpetuated “painful stereotypes of people of colour”.

“The movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalise a history that never was,” continued the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years A Slave.

Gone with the Wind was originally released in 1939

In a statement, HBO Max said it would be “irresponsible” to keep the film on its platform without “an explanation and a denouncement” of its “racist depictions”.

It said the film itself would return “as it was originally created”, saying “to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed”.

Its removal comes in the wake of the death of George Lloyd in Minnesota which has sparked Black Lives Matter protests in the USA and here. A police officer has been charged with his murder.

Bo’ Selecta has also been removed from All4 following backlash over its use of blackface. Leigh Francis, who is now best known for playing Keith Lemon, portrayed celebrities such as Mel B, Craig David and Michael Jackson using rubber masks.

Little Britain has also been removed from BBC iPlayer and Netflix.