Gone with the Wind returns to HBO Max with slavery warning


Gone With The Wind has been reinstated by HBO Max, alongside a disclaimer saying it “denies the horrors of slavery”.

The 1939 film, set during and after the American Civil War, was removed by the streaming site earlier this month.

HBO Max said at the time it showed “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and are wrong today”.

Now, it has returned online, also accompanied by two videos discussing the film’s historical context.

One shows TV host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart noting how the popular movie’s depiction of black people was controversial even at the time of release.

‘Deeply concerned’

“Producer David O Selznick was well aware that black audiences were deeply concerned about the film’s handling of the topic of slavery and its treatment of black characters,” she says.

“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,” she added.

The second video is an hour-long panel discussion debating Gone with the Wind’s “complicated legacy”.

Widespread Black Lives Matter protests, in the wake of the death of George Floyd – a black American, who died while in the custody of a white police officer – have prompted broadcasters, producers, directors and actors to quickly re-evaluate what is acceptable on our screens today,

A classic episode of the British comedy Fawlty Towers was removed from the UKTV streaming service last month over its use of racial slurs, but plans are in place to bring it back with a warning about “offensive content and language”.

Elsewhere, actress Jenny Slate announced on Wednesday that she will no longer voice a black character in the animated series Big Mouth, as her role was “engaging in an act of erasure of black people”.

Jenny Slate

Slate, who is white, had starred as Missy in the Netflix comedy, but the role will now be recast.

“Black characters on an animated show should be played by black people,” she went on.

In a joint statement, Big Mouth creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett added: “We sincerely apologise for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character.”

They confirmed the role would be recast with a black actor.

‘A lack of awareness’

Frozen star Kristen Bell followed Slate’s lead soon after, revealing she would no longer be lending her voice to a non-white character in the Apple TV+ comedy Central Park.

Bell wrote on Instagram that her playing Molly, a mixed-race character, “shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive [white] privilege”.

“Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience. It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right,” she wrote.

Kristen Bell acknowledged that playing Molly on Central Park was an "act of complicity"
“I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion.”

Bell and Slate are not the first actors arrive at this conclusion, as in January, Hank Azaria confirmed he would no longer lend his voice to Indian shopkeeper Apu on The Simpsons.

Now, since Mr Floyd’s death in May, momentum for real change in film and TV appears to have gathered pace. Another streaming site Hulu announced on Wednesday it has removed three episodes of the US hospital-based comedy Scrubs, which featured characters in blackface.

The move, confirmed by Variety, came at the request of the show’s creator Bill Lawrence and ABC Studios. It also came just days after multiple episodes of another US comedy, 30 Rock, were removed from streaming platforms for the same reason.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews said this week that four new episodes of the police comedy were thrown “in the trash”, as they looked to better represent the anti-racist movement going forward.

In the UK, Little Britain was removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox as objections resurfaced to some of the sketch show’s characters, while Ant and Dec apologised for impersonating “people of colour” on their Saturday Night Takeaway show.


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