While HBO Max pulled Gone With the Wind –temporarily — from its streaming offering on Tuesday, Amazon has reaped the rewards of the controversy that ensued. The 1939 classic shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list overnight and is currently occupying the number 1 slot as well as the number 8 slot and the number 9 slot. It did so in different formats and versions: DVD, Blu-ray and 70th Anniversary Edition.
With the exception of what seem to be single copies being offered (and immediately snapped up) on the site, Victor Fleming’s Civil War-era film has sold out in every format. One Blu-ray copy was being offered for $334.01. HBO Max as said it will restore the film to its service as originally created but “with a discussion of its historical context.”
Here is the statement Deadline received from an HBO Max spokesperson on Tuesday:
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. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.
On Monday, Academy Award winning writer-director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) had called for the film’s removal from HBO Max, saying “It doesn’t just ‘fall short’ with regard to representation. It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south. 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.”
Indeed, the 1939 film is not aging well in an era of protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The Southern-set Civil War epic portrays slaves as mostly happy with their lot and loyal to their owners to the end. It also plays down — if not eliminates altogether — the horrors of slavery, even as it romanticizes the suffering of Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara before, during and after the Civil War.
Gone With the Wind won 8 competitive Oscars, including the first Oscar ever awarded to a black person. That statue went to Hattie McDaniel for her role as the ever-loyal house slave Mammie. It also was awarded Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actress in a Leading Role; Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction.
AFI ranked Gone With the Wind as the fourth best film ever made on its 100 Best Movies of All Time list.
The removal comes on the same day that Deadline confirmed Paramount Network had pulled Cops. The show was pulled last week in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The series will not be coming back.
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