HBO Max will return “Gone with the Wind” to its lineup with a newly added introduction by Black scholar and TCM host Jacqueline Stewart.
After HBO Max temporarily pulled the 1939 movie on Wednesday, leading to a national debate, the African American cinema and media studies professor Stewart wrote a Saturday op-ed for CNN. Stewart wrote that when “Gone With the Wind” returns to the streaming service, “I will provide an introduction placing the film in its multiple historical contexts. For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us.”
Stewart, host of TCM’s “Silent Sunday Nights” and a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, did not state when “Gone with the Wind” will return with the added introduction. HBO Max representatives did not immediately respond to a request for information from USA TODAY.
‘Gone with the Wind’ removed: Whoopi Goldberg, Megyn Kelly criticize HBO Max’s decision
“Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality,” wrote Stewart. “If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off.”
After the death of George Floyd in police custody prompted national social unrest, HBO Max announced Wednesday it was temporarily pulling the movie. An HBO Max statement said, “‘ 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.”
The streaming service promised the movie would “return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created,” according to the statement.
Based on the 1936 book by Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind” is a historical epic centered around a romance between Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a gambler who joins the Confederacy.
It is widely considered one of the greatest films in American cinematic history and took home nine Oscars, including one for Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of the house servant Mammy, making McDaniel the first African American to win an Oscar.
The film has long been criticized for romanticizing depictions of slavery and the Civil War-era south.
HBO Max’s decision to pull the film turned into a national debate, with Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain both criticizing the move on “The View.”
In her op-ed titled, “Why we can’t turn away from ‘Gone with the Wind,'” Stewart wrote, “The film romanticizes slavery as a benign and benevolent institution. Still the highest-grossing film in history when adjusted for inflation, ‘Gone with the Wind’ continues to have a profound impact on the ways mainstream audiences visualize the antebellum South and the Reconstruction period that followed the Civil War.’ “
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