"These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today," said the streaming platform, which will make the 1939 film available again with a disclaimer about its "historical context"

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 10, 2020 10:08 AM
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HBO Max has temporarily removed Gone with the Wind from its catalog amid discussions over its depiction of slavery.

On Tuesday, the streaming platform confirmed that the 1939 classic was pulled, but soon returning to subscribers accompanied with a "discussion of its historical context and a denouncement" of its portrayal of black people and slavery

"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 spokesperson for HBO Max told PEOPLE 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."

The film itself will not be altered or censored when it is made available again, said HBO Max, explaining that amending it "would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."

Gone with the Wind (1939)
Selznick/Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

"If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history," concluded the statement.

Directed by Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel, who became the first black person to win an Academy Award, albeit for the controversial role of Mammy. Adjusted for inflation, the film remains the highest-grossing of all time.

HBO Max also offers a number of other cinematic classics, including The Wizard of Oz (1939), Casablanca (1942), Citizen Kane (1941), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and North by Northwest (1959), among others.

The decision to address Gone with the Wind's historical context came days after the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by 12 Years a Slave producer John Ridley on Monday, calling on the streaming service to consider removing the film.

"As a filmmaker I get that movies are often snapshots of moments in history. They reflect not only the attitudes and opinions of those involved in their creation, but also those of the prevailing culture," wrote Ridley. "As such, even the most well-intentioned films can fall short in how they represent marginalized communities."

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Ridley said Gone with the Wind "glorifies the antebellum south" and "romanticizes the Confederacy." He added that "when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color."

"At a moment when we are all considering what more we can do to fight bigotry and intolerance," he wrote, "I would ask that all content providers look at their libraries and make a good-faith effort to separate programming that might be lacking in its representation from that which is blatant in its demonization."