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HBO Max Temporarily Removes “Gone with the Wind,” Will Bring It Back With Historical Context

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  • 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.”

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)

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Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded

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“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.


Pressure on Beckham

Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. 

Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death. 

Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine. 

In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.  

“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.” 

“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.” 

Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”

Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.

“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.

Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit. 

Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event. 

Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)

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Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider

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The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 


Lawsuit Tossed

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday. 

According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships. 

The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.

Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article. 

Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”

“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued. 

Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends. 

While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.

“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note. 

Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”

Portnoy Responds

An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”

“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news. 

For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 

“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”

Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.” 

He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.” 

“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.” 

He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)

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Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and More Sign Letter in Support of Restricting Rap Lyrics as Evidence

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The letter claims the use of this evidence is a “racially targeted practice” that “punishes already marginalized communities and their stories.”


“Protect Black Art”

Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and a slew of other major artists signed an open letter on Tuesday calling for politicians to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court. 

The letter, titled “Art on Trial: Protect Black Art,” argues that “more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry.”

It follows statements from other advocates who claim that police and prosecutors are eager to interpret rap literally instead of treating it as a creative form of expression. By doing so, critics say they ignore the storytelling techniques, figurative language, and hyperbole that are often used in the genre, and weaponize those lyrics against their creators. 

Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that aims to limit the use of rap lyrics in court by requiring prosecutors to prove lyrics meet certain criteria and do not display a racial bias before submitting them. State legislators in New York are also weighing a bill with similar goals, and on the federal level, a bill titled the “RAP Act” was introduced in Congress over the summer. 

Tuesday’s letter urged state and federal politicians to pass these bills and others like it. It also encouraged prosecutors to drop the practice voluntarily. 

Jack Harlow, Future, DJ Khaled, Camilla Cabello, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Normani, Travis Scott, and Christina Aguilera were among the slew of other stars who signed the letter. Record labels like Warner, Universal, and Def Jam joined the list, as did platforms like Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, and YouTube Music.

Rap in Court

According to Warner Music Group, experts have found over 500 cases where rap was used as evidence, and that is likely an undercount as several kinds of cases and proceedings were excluded from that figure. On the other hand, those experts found only four instances since the 1950s where non-rap lyrics were used as evidence, and three of those cases were tossed while the other was overturned after conviction.

The letter used Young Thug and members of the Young Stoner Life label, who are currently facing dozens of charges, including ones that accuse the label of being a criminal gang, as an example of this issue.

“The allegations rely heavily on the artists’ lyrics, which prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy,’” the letter said. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘I get all type of cash, I’m a general,’ are a confession of criminal intent.”

The letter claims that using an artist’s words against them in this manner is “un-American” and “simply wrong.” 

“Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph,” it continues. 

Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Music Group, released a statement arguing that the freedom for musicians to form characters and narratives is “essential to the creative process and the role of art in society.” 

“The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution,” Greenwald added.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (NME) (Rolling Stone)

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