The American Film Institute ranks Gone With the Wind as the fourth best movie. Ever. Yet, HBO Max wants to continue to prove how they can dominate the headlines, but was this for a worthy reason?
First, HBO Max brings Zack Snyder’s Justice League to a near-bloodthirsty public. Then, they kick almost half of DC’s movies to the curb in favor of a “rotating catalog.” And now, they take an American Civil War epic film and flushes all four hours of tape down the drain in the face of necessary public protests.
Gone With the Wind was a period piece surrounded by Antebellum mythic. Quite naturally, there were harsh allusions to the Confederacy and slavery. Yet, despite it being a cherished moment in Hollywood history since the 1930s, HBO Max is removing that film from its records until “it can return with historical context.”
In fact, when Gone With the Wind does return to HBO Max, it will probably feature an introduction from a black scholar to put the film into perspective.
Understandably, a great majority of people protesting police brutality and #BlackLivesMatter have never seen Gone With the Wind, and once they heard about its controversial premise in the shadow of the Civil War, they wouldn’t.
But, HBO Max thinks that is a big demographic for them, so out the window the movie goes. Since they aren’t into revisionist history, they pause to make some of their own — and for a strong reason.
Frankly, My Dear, Do You Give a Damn?
This famous quote from the movie — says our hero Rhett to the dame Scarlett — could be considered what MGM was saying to the public in 1939. Since the movie filled theater houses nationwide, it has been deemed controversial because of the movie’s stark racial content. Some see a few scenes as reflecting history while others say the movie celebrates it.
And since HBO Max can’t say either without pissing someone off, they go for the compromise — it’s gone but will be back when someone can explain its context from a lens that refracts today’s sensitivities. Honestly, that’s the best idea, but curiosity seems to make the cat fat, wealthy, and happy.
Since this happened, Clark Gable’s estate has made some extra coin. In fact, Gone With the Wind skyrocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers chart for TV and movies. As HBO Max denounces the film’s “racial depictions,” it seems most of the country wants to discover what’s the hubbub.
‘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…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.”HBO Max Spokesperson to Variety
Did American society reward this movie again or just want to see if this movie was worth being pulled?
History’s Black Eye
For decades, history romanticizes the grotesque periods in its timeline — none more than the Reconstruction era and the Civil War. Institutionalized racism was forced to be abolished but it took another 100 years for it to be eradicated. Or, so we thought.
Today, thousands of people of every color and creed have taken to the street to protest what was promoted in the late 1860s. Gone With the Wind made that historical beautification trendy. Although when the movie begins, Jim Crow shows up and slaps you in the face, it was acclaimed as an accurate depiction of history. While that may have been true, was it necessary?
Ku Klux Klan. Lynching. People treated as property. But meh…it’s all for entertainment.
It’s a different time and HBO realized that. While this is a majestic movie, one that will always be a prototype in film school of how to tell a story and build a character, many people may not be able to get past the sight of Hattie McDaniel waiting on Vivian Leigh hand-and-foot. Painful stereotypes are on full display in this movie and people who don’t really pay attention in U.S. history class — and that’s a considerable amount — will see this film and be stunned.
That is where the conversation should start. They shouldn’t be stunned. They should be educated, because only with the knowledge of what was can they have the wisdom to change what is.Me
HBO Max is using that knowledge to provide some wisdom. Hopefully, once this is placed into context when the 1939 classic is placed back into circulation, will folk have the understanding.