UPDATE: HBO Max has reintroduced Gone With the Wind, this time with a new introduction and panel discussion aimed to address the film's complicated legacy.
"Watching Gone With the Wind can be uncomfortable, even painful," film scholar Jacqueline Stewart says in a video that precedes the movie. "Still it's important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion."
She adds, "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."
HBO Max has made a major change to library.
The streaming service announced that it has removed Gone With the Wind from its offerings. According to CNN Business, a spokesperson from HBO Max explained that the Oscar-winning 1936 film, which takes place during the American Civil War in the South and features portrayals of slavery, 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," the spokesperson continued, noting that the film will return to HBO Max "with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions." The HBO Max representative also stated that the streaming service plans to present Gone With the Wind "as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."
The spokesperson added, "If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history."
Earlier this month, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley urged HBO Max to pull Gone With the Wind from its film library in an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times, calling on the streaming service to have it taken down for a "respectful amount of time."
"It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south," he wrote. "It is 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. The movie had the very best talents in Hollywood at that time working together to sentimentalize a history that never was."
As for how it should be re-introduced, the Oscar winner proposed that 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."
"Let me be real clear: I don't believe in censorship," Ridley continued. "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."
"E! stands in solidarity with the black community against systemic racism and oppression experienced every day in America," the network said in a statement on May 31. "We owe it to our black staff, talent, production partners and viewers to demand change and accountability. To be silent is to be complicit. #BlackLivesMatter."
(This story was originally published on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 6:23 a.m. PST)