HBO Max pulls 'Gone with the Wind' over racist depictions but says it will return

The streaming service announced it's removing the 1939 film for its depiction of black people and slavery but plans to re-introduce it with more context.
/ Source: TODAY

The Oscar-winning 1939 epic "Gone with the Wind" is gone from HBO Max.

The recently-launched streaming service from HBO announced Tuesday it has temporarily pulled the classic film, which has long been considered controversial because of the way it portrays black people and its glorification of slavery.

The 1939 classic "Gone with the Wind" has been temporarily removed from the streaming service HBO Max. Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

"These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today," HBO Max said in a statement. "(Keeping) this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible."

HBO Max added it will return the film to its service "with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions."

The film won eight Academy Awards and is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Actress Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar when she won best supporting actress for the role of Mammy, a house slave on a southern plantation.

HBO Max's decision to pull the film comes amid worldwide protests about police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police last month.

The move also comes after the screenwriter of the 2013 movie "12 Years a Slave," which won best picture at the Oscars, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Monday calling for HBO Max to remove "Gone with the Wind."

Screenwriter John Ridley, who won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 2013, wrote that the 1939 epic 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."

"It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the 'Lost Cause,' romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was — a bloody insurrection to maintain the 'right' to own, sell and buy human beings," he wrote.

Ridley added he does not believe in censorship, so he feels the film should be re-introduced to HBO Max "with other films that give a more broad-based and complete picture of what slavery and the Confederacy truly were."

The move by HBO Max also comes as "Cops," the reality television show that has been on the air since 1989 on various networks, has been canceled by the Paramount Network.

Another reality show centered around law enforcement, A&E's "Live PD," was pulled from the air last week "out of respect for the families of George Floyd and others who lost their lives," according to the network. The show's return is currently being reevaluated, according to A&E.