As demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter continue across the country and TV shows like The Bachelor are being called to increase their diversity, US streaming service HBO Max is temporarily removing Gone With The Wind from its roster. This move comes after 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asking the network to take it off the platform due its glorification of slavery and racial stereotypes.
The 1939 film, which stars Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil, and Vivien Leigh, is set on a plantation in the south during the American Civil War. It won eight Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, who became the first African-American to win an Oscar.
“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 Max spokesperson said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “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 include stereotypes of Black characters that conveniently gloss over the realities of the Confederacy, portraying the secessionist movement as something other than "a bloody insurrection to maintain the 'right' to own, sell and buy human beings," as Ridley points out.
Gone With The Wind will return to HBO Max at a later date “with a discussion of its historical context,” per NYT. In his op-ed, Ridley suggested it return alongside films that give other perspectives during the time period in which its set, or be paired with conversations about its racist portrayals.