Gone With The Wind is available again on HBO Max.
The 1939 Academy Award winner was temporarily removed from the streaming service two weeks ago amid ongoing protests over continual police brutality and renewed discussions about racism in American society and culture. At the time of its removal, HBO Max stated that it would return with additional materials to help place the film, and its outdated racist attitudes, into historical context.
The film is now accompanied by an introductory video from Turner Classic Movies host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart. In it she explains, “Watching Gone With the Wind can be uncomfortable, even painful. Still it’s important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.”
She continues –
Gone With The Wind, with its landmark production values, signature scenes and iconic characters has shaped the way generations have pictured slavery and the reconstruction period that followed… It is not only a major document of Hollywood’s racist practices of the past, but also an enduring work of popular culture that speaks directly to the racial inequalities that persist in media and society today.
The introductory video also explains how the film depicted “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” and that “when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, [Gone With The Wind] pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”
In addition to Stewart’s introductory video, HBO Max has added two more informational videos that also now available for viewing alongside Gone With The Wind. The first, “Hattie McDaniel: What a Character!” is a four-minute short that originally aired in TCM details the life and career of the first African American actress who won an Academy Award for her work in the film. The second, titled “The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind,” is a recording of a panel discussion from the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival which was moderated by film historian Donald Bogle.
To be sure, Gone With The Wind is not the only film in Hollywood’s history to feature problematic racist content. Retrograde racist attitudes can be found all across the catalog of studio output during the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond. But with Gone With The Wind being one of the most popular of all classic films, it is as good a place as any to start examining that history and encouraging people to reflect on how those attitudes still inform our society today.