'Gone With the Wind' Was Pulled From HBO Max Because of Racist Slave Depictions

'Gone With the Wind' is one of the most popular movies in the history of cinema, but it was temporarily banned from HBO Max because of its racist depictions of slaves.


Jun. 10 2020, Updated 11:15 a.m. ET

Adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind is the highest-grossing movie in cinema history. It was a giant at that year's Academy Awards, and its epic story of love set against the backdrop of the American Civil War has helped it to endure for more than 80 years. The movie is also set in the South, though, and its depiction of the South before the war has come under much scrutiny in recent years. 

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Why was 'Gone With the Wind' Banned from HBO Max?

HBO Max announced that it would be pulling Gone With the Wind from its streaming service, but the movie hasn't actually been banned. It's still available to stream or rent on other platforms, and it will return to HBO Max at some point. It's just not available to the HBO Max subscribers right now. 

The movie was pulled from the platform in large part because of the rosy ways in which it depicts the antebellum American South. It features some Black performers, but it also suggests throughout its lengthy running time that the relationship between slaves and their white owners was gentler and kinder than it actually was.  

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Source: Getty Images

In explaining the decision to remove the film from the platform, a spokesperson from HBO Max said the decision was made because of the racial prejudices the movie indulges. The spokesperson said 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." 

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"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. They also added that the film will be returning to the platform, but with some new changes. 

When will 'Gone With the Wind' return to HBO Max?

No definitive date has been given for when the movie will return to the platform. The spokesperson did say, though, that it "will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions," and will be presented "as it was originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."

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 The spokesperson continued, saying, "if we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history." The news that the movie would return comes after a backlash to the decision started to foment online. HBO Max isn't trying to censor art, it just wants to offer the proper context to accompany it. 

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What is 'Gone With the Wind' about anyway?

Gone With the Wind starts in the 1850s, and follows Scarlett O'Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. The film chronicles her interest in Ashley Wilkes, who is married to her cousin, as well as her eventual marriage to Rhett Butler. The film, which runs almost four hours, takes Scarlett through to the end of the Civil War.

Gone With the Wind was incredibly popular upon its initial release, and remains a significant cultural landmark. It romanticized the life of Southerners before the war. It also suggested the South was fighting for a cause, instead of to keep their slaves, which is part of the reason it's so problematic. 

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