‘Gone With the Wind’ Pulled From HBO Max

Film will return to streaming at a later date along with a “discussion of its historical context” and “denouncement’ of racist content

Gone With the Wind
Warner Bros.

“Gone With the Wind” is no longer available on HBO Max. On Tuesday, amid a larger cultural conversation about systemic racism, the 1939 film was quietly removed from WarnerMedia’s new streaming service.

But the company plans to bring the film back at a future date, accompanied by “a discussion of its historical context” and a “denouncement” of the film’s racist content.

“‘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,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement provided to TheWrap.

“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.”

The move comes just one day after a Los Angeles Times op-ed in which “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley called on HBO to remove the film from streaming. In the post, Ridley criticized “Gone With the Wind” for glorifying the pre-Civil War south, minimizing slavery and for its many racist portrayals of black people.

“It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the ‘Lost Cause,’ romanticizes 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,” Ridley wrote.

But Ridley didn’t call for the film to be destroyed or permanently removed from exhibition. “Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship,” he said. “I would just ask, after a respectful amount of time has passed, that the film be re-introduced to the HBO Max platform along with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were. Or, perhaps it could be paired with conversations about narratives and why it’s important to have many voices sharing stories from different perspectives rather than merely those reinforcing the views of the prevailing culture.”

The 1939 film was a huge hit upon release, becoming the highest-earning film up to the point, a record it still holds when figures are adjusted for inflation. It also won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first-ever Oscar for a Black actor. But the film has also long been criticized for perpetuating falsehoods about the American Civil War and slavery, and for romanticizing the confederacy and the south, including portraying racist violence in a positive light.