- 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)
D.A.R.E. Accuses HBO’s “Euphoria” of Glorifying Drug Use
The organization believes the drama series could have “negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.
D.A.R.E. Slams “Euphoria”
HBO’s “Euphoria” has become synonymous with its explicit depictions of teen sex, violence, and addiction. The substance abuse awareness organization D.A.R.E. condemned the series for its lurid content, arguing that it glorifies drug use.
While drugs can weasel their way into any aspect of the show at a moment’s notice, the primary storyline around addiction follows Rue, a high schooler who often resists the help she needs to recover. Zendaya won an Emmy for portraying the struggling protagonist in 2020.
D.A.R.E., also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, told TMZ on Wednesday that “Euphoria” is reckless in its handling of such weighted subject matter.
“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” a representative for the group told the outlet.
“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the representative continued.
“Euphoria” Cast and Creator Speak on Heavy Subject Matter
Ahead of the season two premiere, Zendaya warned her followers that much of the content in “Euphoria” is not suitable for all viewers.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable.”
Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” has been open about his own experience with addiction. Now over a decade sober, Levinson struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, much like Zendaya’s Rue. He feels a personal connection to the story, and therefore, a responsibility to honestly represent the tribulations of addiction.
“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking around you,” Levinson said of the show during the ATX Television Festival in 2019, per Deadline.
Levinson noted that he does have to be “mindful of” the risk of glamorizing drug use “just by the sheer nature of it being on screen.”
“We have to be authentic about it,” he explained. “If we’re pulling our punches and we’re not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact. Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that’s what makes them so destructive.”
Drug Use on Euphoria
Still, D.A.R.E. is far from the first group to express concern over the impact “Euphoria” might have on younger viewers. Before the second season debuted earlier this month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a statement warning of the show’s “imminent threat to the health and well-being of children.”
Before each episode of “Euphoria” airs, HBO flashes a warning to alert viewers of the drug abuse, language, violence, nudity, and sex that will appear in the program. The show might be cavalier in the casual and frequent manner it depicts drug use and other dangerous behavior, but more often than not, characters await the consequences of their actions.
In the most recent episode of “Euphoria,” Rue’s addiction lands her in a visceral screaming match with her sister. The scene underscores the tragic and harsh reality of substance abuse.
While critics push back against the show for a variety of other reasons, they generally praise Rue’s arc, largely thanks to Zendaya’s gripping performance.
But D.A.R.E. argued that the show goes a bridge too far and offered to meet with HBO to hash out the issues.
“We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly,” D.A.R.E.’s representative told TMZ.
HBO has not publicly responded to the criticisms.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Vanity Fair) (Complex)
Neil Young Asks For His Music to Be Removed From Spotify Over Vaccine Misinformation
The “Harvest Moon” singer told his representatives that the streaming service “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Neil Young Wants Music His Off Of Spotify
Musician Neil Young wrote an open letter to his management and record label demanding that his music be taken down from Spotify over concerns about vaccine misinformation.
The “Heart of Gold” singer initially posted the letter on his website, but it has since been removed. According to Rolling Stone, which reported on the document before it was taken down, Young specifically took issue with podcast host Joe Rogan.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“The Joe Rogan Experience” is exclusive to Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021. Rogan has regularly received criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation that contradicts public health recommendations, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.
Rogan previously said that young people should not worry about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He has also regularly cited faulty studies questioning their efficacy and interviewed controversial medical personalities who are known for promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine.
Young said he is afraid of the ramifications of these kinds of remarks.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the singer wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Concerns About Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Comments
Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, confrimed the authenticity of the letter to The Daily Beast.
“It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said. “He’s very upset about this disinformation. We’re trying to figure this out right now.”
Young is far from the first person to express frustrations over the anti-vax views on the audio streaming service platforms. Earlier this month, a group of doctors and other medical professionals wrote a letter to Spotify urging the company to implement a policy to fight disinformation.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” the letter said. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience] is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the expert cautioned.
Spotify has not made a public statement regarding Young’s letter.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Daily Beast) (The Verge)
Ana de Armas Fans Sue Universal For Removing Actress From “Yesterday” Film
The fans argue that because there were no scenes with de Armas as promised in the trailer, “consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase.”
Ana de Armas Scenes Cut From “Yesterday”
Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for including the actress in a trailer for the 2019 film “Yesterday” even though she does not appear in the final cut of the picture.
In a class-action lawsuit filed in California, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza said they each spent $3.99 to watch the film after viewing the accompanying trailer on Amazon. They argue the studio’s “advertising and promotion of the movie Yesterday is false, misleading, and deceptive.”
The Danny Boyle-directed comedy follows a man, played by Himesh Patel, who wakes up in a world where no one knows who The Beatles are but him, so he starts playing their music and claiming it as his own. De Armas appears briefly in the trailer as a character competing with the primary love interest, played by Lily James. Writer Richard Curtis said they had to cut de Armas’ part to strengthen the character arcs.
“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it,” Curtis previously told Cinema Blend. “I mean really radiant. And [that] turned out to be the problem…I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”
For Woulfe and Rosza, the choice to cut de Armas is a dealbreaker. They are seeking $5 million on behalf of all impacted consumers.
Fans File Lawsuit Against Universal
“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana De Armas by the trailer for Yesterday, but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana De Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit states.
Patel and James each had credits of their own prior to the release of “Yesterday.” Still, the fans believe that Universal instead used the star power of De Armas, who had recently appeared in “Blade Runner 2049,” to “entice viewership.”
“Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film,” the suit continued.
Just a few months after the release of “Yesterday,” de Armas would go on to receive critical acclaim for her role in “Knives Out.” She has since appeared in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”
Now a much bigger name than in spring of 2019, the lawsuit claims de Armas still appears in trailers on services like Amazon and Google.
“Despite knowing that Ms. De Armas was not in the released version of the movie Yesterday, Defendant has consistently promoted Ms. De Armas as a character starring in the film, by including her scenes in Yesterday’s movie trailers,” the suit states. “Indeed, Defendant continues to promote Ms. De Armas as appearing in the film more than two years after its initial release, in advertisements for movie sales and rentals.”
Universal has not released a statement in response to the lawsuit.