- The recently-released streaming platform HBO Max removed “Gone with the Wind” from its library for depicting racial stereotypes and prejudices.
- The move came one day after “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley asked the platform to temporarily remove the film and add historical context.
- HBO confirmed that the film will eventually return but with that added context that shows the film as a product of its time.
- Still, its removal stoked intense debate from those who called the move censorship and quoted George Orwell’s police state dystopian novel “1984.”
- Others called foul to that argument, saying that the film itself is a piece of propaganda that depicts a romanticized view of the fall of the South following the Civil War.
“Gone with the Wind” Removed From HBO Max
A slew of TV networks and streaming services announced changes on Tuesday as conversations about racism and injustice have soared since the killing George Floyd.
Paramount Network, for instance, canceled its show “Cops,” which has around 1,100 episodes and has been on the air since 1989. “Brooklyn 99” star Terry Crews said the show’s upcoming season will address topics like racism and police brutality. Netflix and the BBC have removed “Little Britain,” an early-aughts sketch comedy. A&E is evaluating whether or not to bring back “Live PD,” which is currently embroiled in its own scandal.
By far, the biggest debate, however, came after HBO Max removed a movie that is 80 years old: “Gone with the Wind.“
“‘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 spokesperson said on Tuesday. “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.”
HBO also said it plans to eventually bring the film back “with a discussion of its historical context” while denouncing its racial missteps.
The 1939 film starring Vivien Leigh and Clarke Gable is the highest grossing movie of all time when adjusted for inflation (Sorry, Endgame).
The move to pluck “Gone with the Wind,” a historical epic meant to depict Southern antebellum life during and directly following the Civil War, came one day after The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed from “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley. In that op-ed, titled “Hey, HBO, ‘Gone With the Wind’ romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform for now,” Ridley criticizes the platform for not adding historical context before the film.
“As a filmmaker, I get that movies are often snapshots of moments in history,” Ridley said. “They reflect not only the attitudes and opinions of those involved in their creation, but also those of the prevailing culture. As such, even the most well-intentioned films can fall short in how they represent marginalized communities.”
“‘Gone With the Wind,’ however, is its own unique problem. It 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.”
Ridley is likely referring to the slave character that actress Hattie McDaniel played. McDaniel, who became the first African American to win an Oscar after this film, is still largely remembered for the role; however, McDaniel’s portrayal is not one without a complex history.
While she undeniably made waves in the advancement of people of color to be recognized in film, her character has also been associated with perpetuating the stereotype that slaves were happy to serve their masters. In fact, she’s even referred to as “Mammy” throughout the film.
“Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship,” Ridley said in his op-ed. “I don’t think “Gone With the Wind” should be relegated to a vault in Burbank.”
Ridley continued by asking HBO to re-introduce the film with other films that give more of a complete picture as to what slavery and the Confederacy were or pair the film “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.”
“Gone with the Wind” Removal Sparks “1984” Comparisons
HBO’s decision was met with a flood of mixed opinions, and on Wednesday, “Gone with the Wind” became a trending topic on Twitter.
“HBO removing Gone With The Wind is just another part of the left’s sinister plot to erase American culture,” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said. “Did you know—the first black American to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel for her role in Gone With The Wind? But the left doesn’t care. They just want to see it all burn.”
Many others invoked a quote from George Orwell’s “1984,” a dystopian novel depicting a police state that engages in revisionist history.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered,” the quote from Orwell’s novel reads. “And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Many others, however, called foul to the use of this quote, one person saying, “Ironically, Gone With The Wind is a great example of this. It became part of a bigger fictionalized narrative of the noble confederate and the southern belle, romanticized slavery, and erased the less flattering realities of the south.”
Ironically, Gone With The Wind is a great example of this. It became part of a bigger fictionalized narrative of the noble confederate and the southern belle, romanticized slavery, and erased the less flattering realities of the south. 💁♂️— Jon (@RealJonAndrews) June 10, 2020
A lot of good books on the Lost Cause.
Others criticized those trying to defend the movie by using Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award win as an example.
“You don’t give a shit about Hattie McDaniel so don’t use her legacy to spew propaganda about gone with the wind. this wasn’t the only movie she was in,” one user said.
Even more deconstructed the notion that the movie was being censored and hidden to erase an ugly history by pointing out the fact that HBO is a private company shelving the film.
The Help Sparks Discussion After Hitting Netflix Top 10
Alongside the discussion of whether what HBO amounted to censorship, there has also been massive debate regarding movies that focus on black characters through the lens of white characters.
Those movies, known for their white savior tropes, typically depict white characters coming to the rescue of people of color in a feel-good way. They also tend to attract criticism for simplifying racial issues and taking agency away from minorities.
That discussion crescendoed after The Help spiked to number 1 on Netflix.
The movie stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. In it, Stone plays an aspiring journalist who begins to document racism experienced by black maids in 1960’s Mississippi.
While, on the surface, that may sound like a recipe for success for those wishing to better educate themselves on black issues, Black Lives Matter advocates have argued that it’s more like Minny’s special pie: a load of crap.
“Not to say the film isn’t entertaining and may have other benefits, but if I were to pick one film that helps us understand where (black people) are today and what problems we face, that wouldn’t be the one I pick,” Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, told USA Today.
Even one of the movie’s stars, Bryce Dallas Howard, has urged viewers to watch something else if they want to learn about black history,
“The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers,” she wrote on Facebook. “We can all go further.”
Others dug up an old interview where Viola Davis says she regrets starring in the movie.
“I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she said in 2018. “They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”
Tuesday night, Netflix introduced a Black Lives Matter genre, which pops up when users go to their accounts. There, viewers can find a number of films and TV shows made by black people and about black people.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (CNN Business) (Entertainment Weekly)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”