Copies of ‘Gone With the Wind’ flew off Amazon’s virtual shelves after HBO’s streaming platform announced that it would temporarily be pulling the film for racist depictions of black Americans.
As of this morning, the classic remains the number one bestselling movie on DVD and BluRay on Amazon.com.
“‘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,” an HBO Max spokesperson told Variety. “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,” the spokesperson went on, “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.”
Recent events are far from the first time ‘Gone With the Wind’ has come under fire for its depiction of black Americans in the Civil War period.
Though it led Hattie McDaniels to become the first female black Oscar winner for her portrayal of “Mammy,” the film has received mixed reviews from black critics both in the present day and at the time of its 1939 release.
After McDaniels landed the Oscar, NAACP leader Walter Francis White accused her of being an “Uncle Tom.”
According to Frankly My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited, McDaniel went so far as to question whether White should be a spokesperson for black people since he was light-skinned and “only one-eighth black.”
“What do you expect me to play?” she asked at the time, “Rhett Butler’s wife?”
McDaniel added that she would “rather make seven hundred dollars a week playing a maid than seven dollars being one.”
Even left-bent actress Whoopi Goldberg, the second black woman to win an Oscar, criticized the blacklisting of the film.
“Personally I think if you put things in a historical context — because if you start pulling every film … you’re going to have to pull all of the blaxploitation movies because they’re not depicting us the right way,” Goldberg said, according to Fox News. “That’s a very long list of films.”
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