Earlier this month, WarnerMedia made the choice to pull GONE WITH THE WIND from the HBO Max streaming service, with a spokesperson saying that the film was “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.” It was said that the film would be returning to HBO Max at some point but that it would be combined with a discussion of the film’s historical context. The content of the film would not be changed “because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.“
Well, GONE WITH THE WIND has now returned to HBO MAX together with two videos which discuss the historical context of the film. The first video finds Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart discussing “why this 1939 epic drama should be viewed in its original form, contextualized and discussed,” while the second is an hour-hour presentation of “The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind” moderated by author and historian Donald Bogle which took place at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2019. Starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, and Olivia de Havilland, GONE WITH THE WIND is set during the Civil War and the Reconstruction era and follows Scarlett O’Hara’s battle to save her beloved Tara and find love during the Civil War.
Although Jacqueline Stewart called GONE WITH THE WIND “one of the most enduringly popular films of all time,” she says that the film presents “the Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based,” adding, “The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.” Stewart went on to say that although watching GONE WITH THE WIND can be “uncomfortable, even painful” in this day and age, “it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.“