HBO Max cuts 'Gone With The Wind' from service for 'racist depictions' of slavery era

American actor Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) in his role as Rhett Butler kissing the hand of a tearful Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in 'Gone With The Wind'.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

HBO's new streaming platform HBO Max has temporarily removed Gone With The Wind from its service over its outdated depiction of the American south during slavery.

The film will be reinstated 'with a discussion of its historical context', it confirmed.

“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,” a statement from the network reads.

“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.

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“These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.

“If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”

It is a high-profile statement from the network, which is just two weeks into its launch of HBO Max, notably due to the movie's stature.

American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) in a maid's uniform, circa 1935. McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in 'Gone With The Wind', making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actress Hattie McDaniel in her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind (Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

It remains the highest-grossing movie of all time, when adjusted for inflation, having made in excess of $3.7 billion, more than Avatar, Titanic and Star Wars.

The southern epic, set during and after the American Civil War and starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, glosses over the horrors of slavery, yet won 10 Oscars.

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Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as the house servant Mammy.

But it has long been criticised for depicting black slaves as being happy with their lot.

The move came after John Ridley, the screenwriter of the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave, called for its removal.

HOLLYWOOD, CA- MARCH 02: Screenwriter John Ridley, winner of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for '12 Years A Slave' poses in the press room during the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Screenwriter John Ridley at the 86th Annual Academy Awards (Credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

“It doesn’t just ‘fall short’ with regard to representation,” he said. “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 colour.

“It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the 'Lost Cause', romanticises the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was — a bloody insurrection to maintain the 'right' to own, sell and buy human beings.”

The removal of the film comes at a tumultuous moment in US history, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody, which has led to worldwide protests.

Paramount has also confirmed that it has pulled it's long-running show Cops from broadcast after 31 years on screen.