Story at a glance

  • HBO removed “Gone with the Wind” from its library after renewed criticism of racist content in the film.
  • The new prologue offers historical context of the film and identifies the issues within the story.
  • Some prominent figures have called for the movie to be removed from the library entirely.

More than 80 years after it was released, “Gone with the WInd” is getting a reboot. The historical romance film is returning to HBO Max's streaming library with a new prologue about the racist themes and whitewashed depiction of the Deep South. 

During the four-and-a-half minute introduction, Jacqueline Stewart, host of TCM’s “Silent Sunday Nights” and a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, gives viewers a brief context of the film and the criticisms that led to its initial removal from the platform. 


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In an opinion editorial for CNN, Stewart wrote, "For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us. Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality. If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off.”

Buoyed by the protests the police killing of George Floyd, calls for accountability from companies profiting off of racist content have grown, leading to major changes for some of the nation’s biggest products. After an opinion piece by screenwriter John Ridley in the Los Angeles Times calling for "Gone with the Wind" to be removed from HBO Max, the company complied. HBO said it would provide "multiple historical contexts" around the 1939 film, which critics argue romanticizes slavery in the antebellum South.  

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Rapper and actress Queen Latifah said the removal should be permanent, citing the racism experienced by Hattie McDaniel, who won an Academy Award for her performance in the film. 

“They didn’t even let her in the theater until right before she got that award. Someone came outside and brought her into the auditorium. She wasn’t even allowed to sit in there. And then she had to read a speech that was written by a studio. You know that’s not what the hell she wanted to say,” Latifah, who plays McDaniel in the Netflix series “Hollywood,” said in an interview with The Associated Press (AP).  

The adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel became the highest grossing movie of all time, when adjusted for inflation, and remains a highly influential film. 

“Gone with the Wind, with its landmark production values, signature scenes and iconic characters has shaped the way generations have pictured slavery and the reconstruction period that followed,” Stewart said in a statement. “It is not only a major document of Hollywood’s racist practices of the past, but also an enduring work of popular culture that speaks directly to the racial inequalities that persist in media and society today.”


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Published on Jun 25, 2020