Gone with the Wind is back on HBO Max with the disclaimer that it ‘denies the horrors of slavery’

gone With the Wind has returned to HBO Max, along with two new videos discussing the historical context and racial stereotypes of the 1939 Civil War epic. The film was removed from the streaming service earlier this month after a written opinion piece. by John Ridley, screenwriter of 12 years of slavery, he argued, romanticized the horrors of slavery.

The film not only “falls short” in its portrayals of blacks, Ridley wrote; glorifies myths about southern Antebellum. “It’s a movie that, when it doesn’t ignore the horrors of slavery, stops only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”

WarnerMedia agreed with the criticism and withdrew the film, saying in a statement: “These racist representations were wrong then and they are wrong today, and we feel that maintaining this title without an explanation and denunciation of those representations would be irresponsible.” He promised to return it to service later along with additional context.

The videos that have now been added include a 4.5-minute introductory segment that automatically plays if you select the movie (but can be skipped) and a one-hour panel discussion filmed at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival and titled “The Complicated Legacy of ‘Gone With the Wind’”. This can be played separately.

How the new introductory section appears in the HBO Max app.
Image: The Verge

As reported by Variety, The introduction is presented by Jacqueline Stewart, a film noir student, who describes gone With the Wind as “one of the most popular movies of all time”. Stewart notes that he portrays “Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the chattel slavery system on which this world is based.”

Stewart says the film was protested even before its release, and that its producer, David O. Selznick, “was well aware that black audiences were deeply concerned with handling the issue of slavery and its treatment of black characters.” .

The film portrays enslaved blacks as racial stereotypes, Stewart says: “Servants notable for their devotion to their white masters or for their ineptitude.” These characters include Mammy, a housemaid played by Hattie McDaniel, who became the first black person to win an Oscar, but was not allowed to sit with the cast during the awards due to racial segregation.

Stewart says that “treating this world through a nostalgic lens negates the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality,” but argues that it should still be accessible to viewers. “Watching ‘Gone With the Wind’ can be uncomfortable, even painful,” she says. “Still, it is important that classic Hollywood movies are available in their original form for viewing and discussion.”

HBO Max is not alone in adding such disclaimers to certain movies and television shows. The 1941 cartoon Dumbo Disney Plus, for example, includes the disclaimer: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural representations. ”

Similary, Tom and Jerry the cartoons published by Warner Home Video that are available on streaming services like Amazon carry the most explicit warning that the cartoons “represent some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were common in American society,” but that to censor them “would be the same as alleging that these prejudices never existed. “