Every year for the past 34 years, the Orpheum theater in Memphis has screened Gone With the Wind. The 1939 movie centers on a romance taking place in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Even back when the movie was first made, the producers acknowledged its potential problems with race, collaborating with the NAACP to try to make it less problematic, The Commercial Appeal reports.
This year, the Orpheum theater's screening was on August 11, a day before the Charlottesville rally. Some complained to the theater that the film glorifies slavery, which could contribute to the cultural climate that fueled the rally.
After hearing these complaints, the theater decided to cancel future screenings. "The Orpheum appreciates feedback on its programming from all members of the mid-south community," Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum Theater Group, said in a statement to Vulture. "The recent screening of Gone With the Wind at the Orpheum on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, generated numerous comments. The Orpheum carefully reviewed all of them. As an organization whose stated mission is to 'entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves,' the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population."
Since this announcement, people have been flooding the event's Facebook page with comments criticizing the decision. But plenty of others feel that it's the right one. "This is something that’s been questioned every year, but the social media storm this year really brought it home," Batterson told The Commercial Appeal, adding that fewer and fewer people have been attending the screening in recent years. "This is about the Orpheum wanting to be inclusive and welcoming to all of Memphis."