Gone With The Wind[s]: HBO Pulls Classic After Floyd Protests

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It is considered one of the most influential (and certainly one of the most watched) films of all time.  However, HBO Max has pulled “Gone with the Wind” from its library of films because of its depiction of slavery and racism. HBO says that it will not allow people to watch the film until it can create “an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions.”  In other words, people will have to wait until they can be properly educated with the addition of a warning and introduction.  “After all”, as Scarlett O’Hara said in the film, “tomorrow is another day!”

This appears in response to John Ridley, who wrote the Academy Award-winning “12 Years a Slave,” In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times this week Ridley asked HBO Max to remove the film because it “glorifies the antebellum south.”  Ridley insisted however “Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship.” He then called for private censorship to prevent others from seeing the film.

Ridley says that allowing people to see the film, particularly without “a warning,” is unacceptable in these times. He notes that this may seem a big deal “But it’s not nearly as big a demand as when your children ask whether they can join protests in the streets against racial intolerance, or when they come to you wanting to know what you did to make the world a better place.”

I have no problem with the inclusion of discussions or introductions for such films so long as people have the ability to choose whether they want to watch such discussion. Indeed, I would personally be interested in watching such a discussion. The film does not disturbing imagery and messaging.  When we watched the film years ago, we discussed those issues with my kids.  However, pulling a film like “Gone With The Wind” until that time is troubling given the other moves that we are seeing around the world, as discussed below.

The question is whether removing art and literature “makes the world a better place” or just a quieter place.  Ridley is saying that, because he does not want to see the film anymore, he does not want anyone (even paying subscribers to HBO) to see the film. It is a too common approach today as advocates seek to silence others rather than voice their own views — or in Ridley’s case, make extraordinary movies in his own right.  These films are part of our history and culture, for better or worse.  Art often reflects prejudice or bias or even hate in ways both subtle and gross.  Censorship simply buries (selectively) the art that the majority deems objectionable.

HBO declared the film “a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society.” That is correct. It is called a period piece.  It is part of our culture that exposes the best and worst of the times.  As is common in today’s environment, those who are critical of the film are not satisfied with writing opinion pieces in the L.A. Times but rather do not want to let others make up their own minds.

This approach to art would lead to the removal of a wide array of paintings, books, and films that depict periods of slavery or oppression.

Films are not the only things being pulled from public view. In London, various statues were defaced in anti-racism protests, including incongruously the statue of Abraham Lincoln.  London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was setting up a Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to remove statues and replace them for better “representation of people of color, black people, women, those from the LGBT community.”  First order is to remove statues and monuments of slave owners.  They might want to start with Hadrian’s Wall built by the Romans with slave labor.

This is not new to the United States.  For years, there have been demands to remove statues from Columbus to Jefferson. Previously, Angela Rye who is a regular analysis on NPR and CNN called for the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial to be torn down, stating “To me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or Thomas Jefferson, they all need to come down.”

Back to HBO, there are a host of classic films that captures early and painful periods.  People like Ridley and the executives at HBO studied the film now want to stop others from doing so until they are ready.  As for all those who want to make up their own minds, HBO is channeling pure Rhett Butler and saying “Frankly darling, [we] don’t give a damn.”

51 thoughts on “Gone With The Wind[s]: HBO Pulls Classic After Floyd Protests”

  1. The movie is still available on Amazon Prime for example. Personally sitting for 3+ hours is a bit much. I saw in decades ago at a watch party that was enough. But it does not deserve to be banned by the thought police.

  2. “Gone With the Wind” is film history. The first with a oh my gasp a curse word. I watched it with my dad when I was quite young. I have no problem with an explanation but the film actually should be watched and understood for it’s time and place. Frankly, there wasn’t a lot glory there. I just watched it recently and have it on hard disk. Perhaps there is more of a message there than some are seeing. I am very much anti old and modern day black suppression. I was raised in SE/E Texas which is more like the south than what people think of Texas. My mother’s family came from Mississippi in a mule drawn wagon around the turn of the last century. There was an old picture of a long gone uncle in his Confederate uniform at my grandfather’s. My grandfather was born in 1865, grew up in the aftermath of the War Between the States. I never heard him say the “n word” once. Never heard him say anything bad about black people and when I would go down the hill to the sawmill he would also say, you do what those Men tell you to do. They were black. He was a retired farmer, teacher and county judge. LBJ sent a telegram on his 100th b-day. My mother taught school starting during the 20’s and retired when I went in the Marine Corps in ’64, can’t blame her. She was always trying to get better schools, books etc. for the then black school. To the best of my knowledge, was the only white teacher in town that had ever taught black kids. You see all white people from the south are not prejudiced rednecks.

    Personally, I don’t believe in banning much of anything. Call it out for what it is. After all, who gets to call the shots next time around? That is why we have the 1st. Amendment.

    1. Interesting and compelling past sgt. There have always been white people in the south who did not favor slavery or segregation – Union sympathy existed in pockets like East Tennessee and among individuals everywhere and in the Civil Rights era there were individuals, leaders, and newspapers who wanted that change – Ralph McGill at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gov Leroy Collins of Florida, and the St Petersburg Times come to mind – and I’m sure there were others.

      1. PS and among those who did favor slavery and segregation there were no doubt good people who were ignorant or not able to buck their upbringing and the institutions they were surrounded by.

      2. That picture of the Confederate Colonel I wrote about looked just like Sam Houston. They were kin. Sam Houston would be my great, great, great uncle. He got booted out of office because he refused to support withdrawal from the Union.

        There are still more than many realize that support BLM in the south. But unfortunately you are correct. Some just “go along to get along”. Btw, my family may not have been racist, but they certainly was no love lost for yankees.

  3. Lets see if I understand this logic: the literature and monuments of today must conform to a narrative hundreds of years in the future.

    1. Thomas– you would be right except for the fact that approximately 50% of our country, if not more, no longer think American values are important and another very significant percentage reject capitalism as an economic system and prefer socialism even though it is guaranteed to fail. I’ll be surprised if we make it ten years much less hundreds.

  4. Interesting. Does HBO require some sort of announcement that smoking is bad for you and rape is wrong?

    I await the day it pulls all its movies that feature:

    Crime
    Smoking
    Over eating
    Alcoholism
    Chauvenism
    Child Abuse
    Rape
    Murder
    Lying
    Stereotypes of any kind
    Comedy (because if it’s PC, it’s not comedy)

    HBO needs to treat its viewers with enough respect to allow them to choose what to watch, and what to think about it.

    1. Good point Karen. Instead of removing movies they deem dangerous to our culture, the MPA has since 1968 had a rating system to inform the public of the content so that the public could determine what was appropriate for themselves and/or their children. Now all of a sudden the public is no longer trusted to make use of their own judgment and instead must be treated as children, at the mercy of unaccountable parents.

  5. Let me know when HBO adds a denouncement to Chris Rock’s “comedic” special in which one o the “punchlines” was: “we need more dead white kids.”

  6. Yes, the Democrats you’ve been supporting all your life want censorship.

    Are you awake? Are you aware that your support for Democrats supports censorship?

  7. Once upon a time the burning of books in the 1930s was looked upon as being beyond the limits of a civilized society. Now, it’s standing operating procedure. Art works, statues, and any other type of expression tending to draw attention to historical facts are now at risk. And don’t try to defend the practice by saying that that was the Nazis; while the Nazis may have encouraged the practice, it was mostly common everyday Germans who did the tossing.

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