The HBO Max streaming service has temporarily removed Gone with the Wind from its platform after the screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave called for its removal in a Monday op-ed.
While it is not clear if the op-ed was a driving factor in the decision, screenwriter John Ridley wrote in the Los Angeles Times the HBO should consider removing Gone with the Wind temporarily because of the massive George Floyd demonstrations occurring across the U.S. The 2013 film 12 Years a Slave was adapted by Ridley from the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a free-born African American who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.
Gone with the Wind, long considered an American classic, has drawn controversy over its portrayal of African Americans in the antebellum South. The film depicts a far rosier view of slavery and its aftermath than is historically accurate.
In 1939, actress Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her role as “Mammy” in the film.
“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,” an HBO spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
In his op-ed, Ridley wrote “I don’t think ‘Gone With the Wind’ should be relegated to a vault in Burbank. 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.”