‘Gone with the Wind’ reignites debate as Hollywood wrestles with its historical past

Nationwide protests spill over into Hollywood history
The 1939 film — tailored from Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling novel set throughout the Civil Warfare — additionally accommodates quite a few problematic components that have not aged nicely, from stereotyped depictions of African People to the controversy over whether or not the staircase scene between Rhett and Scarlett, which concludes off display screen, was a case of marital rape.
“Gone with the Wind” is the newest film to face renewed considerations about its publicity within the 21st century, as studios mine their libraries to inventory the cabinets of latest streaming companies. The controversy over that erupted once more this week, as HBO Max, the brand new service from CNN father or mother WarnerMedia, introduced that it was briefly pulling the film from its rotation.

The movie will return, a spokesperson stated, with “a dialogue of its historic context” and denunciation of its racially charged facets. The film itself will not be altered.

The announcement adopted a Los Angeles Occasions oped by filmmaker John Ridley, who famous that the movie “glorifies the antebellum south” and perpetuates “among the most painful stereotypes of individuals of colour.”

Disney has already publicly wrestled with these points in launching its streaming service, Disney+, opting to not embrace the 1946 movie “Tune of the South,” one other title that romanticized the previous South. Disney+ has made different motion pictures accessible, similar to “Dumbo,” with a disclaimer that reads, “This program is introduced as initially created. It could include outdated cultural depictions.”

Searching for to contextualize previous movies is just not a brand new subject for WarnerMedia. The corporate’s secure of cable networks consists of Turner Basic Films, which presents such movies with hosts who introduce and focus on them.

Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for 'Gone With the Wind.'

The particular debate over “Gone with the Wind” is hardly a brand new one both, however as HBO Max famous, it comes at a second when the USA is once more grappling with its historical past with reference to race — and the way these attitudes filtered by the tradition and leisure of the instances. Notably, the brand new Netflix collection “Hollywood” zeroes in on that subject, with McDaniel — who was segregated from her white co-stars on the Academy Awards — featured as a minor character throughout the fictionalized retelling.

The questions surrounding “Gone with the Wind” truly predated the movie. Debate instantly ensued over the 1936 publication of Mitchell’s novel, with its nostalgia for plantation life, portrayal of pleased slaves and threatening freed blacks, and sympathy towards the Accomplice trigger.

Because the Washington Submit’s Alyssa Rosenberg famous, even McDaniel’s award-winning efficiency “could not wholly transcend the trope of a loyal slave who rejects freedom and prefers to serve her former homeowners.”

Weighing the film’s negatives versus its deserves — together with Vivien Leigh’s portrayal of the long-lasting heroine Scarlett O’Hara — Rosenberg concluded it’s “the one Accomplice monument value saving.”

The dialogue of what to do with motion pictures like “Gone with the Wind” arose once more in 2017, when a theater in Memphis, Tenn., opted to drop it from a screening collection after the Unite the Proper rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“You possibly can’t sweep historical past beneath the rug,” USC professor of media and cinema research Todd Boyd advised the Los Angeles Occasions on the time, including. “But it surely’s necessary to have context everytime you’re viewing materials of this sort. In any other case, individuals can embrace and have a good time it with out coping with the entire reality.”

That course of could be messy, and it inevitably invitations criticism — particularly from conservatives desirous to painting Hollywood liberals as bowing to requires censorship. Accused of insensitivity up to now, it is attainable to interact in what can appear to be overreactions within the current.

However there is a distinction between context and censorship. If the very best reply to doubtlessly offensive speech or artwork is extra speech or artwork, facilitating a broader dialog a few basic like “Gone with the Wind” — which is a far cry from sweeping it away — represents an inexpensive resolution.

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