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Why HBO Max just temporarily removed this famous movie

HBO Max has temporarily removed one of Hollywood's most famous epics from its service.

The new streaming service has elected to temporarily remove Gone with the Wind, the 1939 Civil War drama, until it can provide historical context for the film's outlook and iffy racial representation.

In a statement obtained by Variety, a spokesperson said, "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."

The statement continued, "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."

This important decision comes on the heels of an opinion piece written by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, which ran in the Los Angeles Times one day before HBO Max's announcement and implored the service to "hit pause" on Gone with the Wind. As Ridley put it, "[Gone with the Wind] 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."

Why HBO Max made the right call by recalling Gone with the Wind

As cities across the world are still holding protests and marches over the unjust murder of Minneapolis citizen George Floyd, who was unarmed when he was killed by a police officer on May 25, 2020, many industries are facing huge reckonings as the outcry to end systemic racism grows louder. Clearly, the powers that be at HBO Max are doing their best to listen and learn, and making sure viewers of Gone with the Wind are aware of its historical context is extremely important.

That doesn't mean, however, that this particular piece of history should be shuttered away forever like other movies no longer considered appropriate (like Disney's Song of the South, which has remained in the studio's vault for years). Elsewhere in his opinion piece, Ridley correctly stated that the film could return: "I would just ask, after a respectful amount of time has passed, that the film be re-introduced to the HBO Max platform along with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were. Or, perhaps it could be paired with conversations about narratives and why it's important to have many voices sharing stories from different perspectives rather than merely those reinforcing the views of the prevailing culture."

Nobody is looking to censor or "cancel" classic Hollywood films like Gone with the Wind, but as times have changed and attitudes have evolved, it's definitely important to provide context for pieces rooted in history that might be harmful to some. The remainder of HBO Max's library, from all of Friends to beloved HBO originals like Game of Thrones, is available to stream now.