Less than one week after HBOMax announced that they had pulled Gone With the Wind from their platform due to “racist depictions,” it has been revealed that the classic 1939 film will return with one major change – an introduction by Jacqueline Stewart, a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.
In an op-ed she wrote for CNN this weekend, Stewart – who is also the host of Silent Sunday Nights on Turner Classic Movies – says that she will provide the introduction to place the film in its multiple historical contexts. She also explained why people “can’t turn away” from the Oscar-winning film.
"Gone With the Wind" will likely be back on HBO Max next week, with an African American scholar at the front of it https://t.co/2QBmR7Ff7O
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 11, 2020
“For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us. 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. 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.”
Adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind is still the highest-grossing movie of all time, and it has long been viewed as one of the greatest movies ever made. It currently sits at number four on the American Film Institute’s list of the best American Movies of All Time.
The film also won star Hattie McDaniel an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African-American actress to take home the prize.
However, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley argued in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed that HBOMax should pull the film from their library because it “glorifies the antebellum south.”
In a statement, an HBOMax spokesperson said that Gone With the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have unfortunately become commonplace in American society.
'Gone With the Wind' returning to HBO Max with introduction of 'historical context' by Black scholar Jacqueline Stewart https://t.co/nScZsbLgeQ
— USA TODAY Life (@usatodaylife) June 15, 2020
The spokesperson said that the racist depictions were wrong then and they are wrong now, and to keep the title on their platform without explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be “irresponsible.”
However, HBOMax wouldn’t go so far as to edit the film itself. Instead, the film will be presented “as it was originally created” because if they did otherwise that would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.