(CNN)“Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie of all time when adjusted for inflation and won 10 Oscars, including the first ever for an African-American performer, supporting actress Hattie McDaniel.
The 1939 movie — adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling novel set during the Civil War — also contains numerous problematic elements that haven’t aged well, from stereotyped depictions of African Americans to the debate over whether the staircase scene between Rhett and Scarlett, which concludes off screen, was a case of marital rape.
“Gone with the Wind” is the latest movie to face renewed concerns about its exposure in the 21st century, as studios mine their libraries to stock the shelves of new streaming services. The controversy over that erupted again this week, as HBO Max, the new service from CNN parent WarnerMedia, announced that it was temporarily pulling the movie from its rotation.
The film will return, a spokesperson said, with “a discussion of its historical context” and denunciation of its racially charged aspects. The movie itself won’t be altered.
The announcement followed a Los Angeles Times oped by filmmaker John Ridley, who noted that the film “glorifies the antebellum south” and perpetuates “some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”
Disney has already publicly wrestled with these issues in launching its streaming service, Disney+, opting not to include the 1946 film “Song of the South,” another title that romanticized the old South. Disney+ has made other movies available, such as “Dumbo,” with a disclaimer that reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
Seeking to contextualize old films is not a new issue for WarnerMedia. The company’s stable of cable networks includes Turner Classic Movies, which presents such films with hosts who introduce and discuss them.