U.S. streamer pulls 'Gone With the Wind'. HBO Max says the film needs a 'discussion of its historical context'.

The American streaming service HBO Max has removed from its catalog ''Gone With the Wind,'' the 1939 movie long considered a triumph of American cinema but one that romanticises the Civil War -era South while glossing over the racial sins.

The service pledged to eventually bring the film back ''with a historical discussion of the historical content'' while denouncing the racial missteps, a spokesperson said in a statement.

Set on a plantation and in Atlanta, the film with multiple Academy Awards, including best picture and best supporting actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, and it remains among the most celebrated movie in cinematic history.

But its rose-tinted depiction of the antebellum South and its blindness to the horrors of Slavery have long been criticised and that scrutiny was renewed just recently as protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd continued to pull the United States into a wide-ranging conversation about  race.

''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,'' an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement.

''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, owned by AT&T pulled the film last Tuesday, one day after John Ridley, the screenwriter of ''12 Years a Slave,'' wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times calling for its removal.

Mr. Ridley said he understood that films were snapshots of their moment in history, but that ''Gone With the Wind'' was still used to ''give cover to those who falsely claim that clinging to the iconography of the plantation era is a matter of heritage and not hate.''

'Iit's 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,'' he wrote.

By several measures, the film was one of the most successful in American history. It received eight competitive Academy Awards and remains the highest grossing film ever when adjusted for inflation.

In 2007, it placed sixth on the American Film Institutes's list of greatest films of all time.

There was little criticism of the film when it was released, though in 1939 an editorial board member of The Daily Worker, a newspaper published by the Communist Party USA, called it ''an insidious glorification of the slave market'' and the Ku Klux Klan.

But the world in which it is viewed has changed, and with each decade discomfort has grown as people revisit its racial themes and what was omitted.
In 2017, the Orpheum theater in Memphis said it would stop showing the film, as it had done each year for 34 years, after receiving complaints from patrons and other commenters.

The World Students Society thanks author, Daniel Victor.


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