The 1939 classic “Gone With the Wind” has been pulled from the HBO Max movie library in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody.
The film’s removal from the on-demand streaming service comes after cities across the country erupted in protests when a video surfaced that showed a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he lay on a sidewalk during an arrest in Minneapolis.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia division, which owns HBO Max, said the movie could return to the library if it is presented with a “historical context.”
The movie is based on a book by Margaret Mitchell and chronicles the relationship of Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of the owner of a Georgia plantation called Tara, and Rhett Butler.
The film won eight Academy Awards, including best picture. Actress Hattie McDaniel, who portrayed a slave called Mammy, won the best supporting actress award for the film, making her the first African American actor to win an Oscar.
The movie earned $402 million worldwide when it opened. Adjusted for inflation and with ticket prices in today’s marketplace, “Gone With the Wind” would have grossed $3.44 billion, according to movieweb.com.
Detractors say the movie never addresses the issue of slavery and portrays slaves as happy with their existence on Southern plantations.
The film was pulled from HBO Max hours after an opinion piece by director John Ridley, who won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie “12 Years a Slave,” was published in the Los Angeles Times. The piece called for the movie to be taken off HBO Max.
“It is a film that glorifies the antebellum South. It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.” Ridley wrote.
A spokesman for WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Max, told CNN that "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.”
The movie “will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions,” the spokesman said.
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