Queen Latifah says Gone With the Wind should be gone forever following HBO Max’s temporary removal of the 1939 film that’s long been criticized for romanticizing slavery and the Civil War-era American South.
Some people have criticized HBO Max’s removal of the movie from its streaming service, including those who wonder if it hurts the legacy of Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award, who was given the honour for her role in Gone With the Wind.
“Let Gone with the Wind be gone with the wind,” Latifah said.
Latifah, who portrays McDaniel in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix Hollywood series, said the story behind McDaniel’s Oscar win is not as shiny as the golden trophy.
“They didn’t even let her in the theatre until right before she got that award. Someone came outside and brought her into the auditorium. She wasn’t even allowed to sit in there. And then she had to read a speech that was written by a studio. You know that’s not what the hell she wanted to say,” the Star actor said.
“Then after that, all she could do was play the same kinds of roles … So the opportunities at that time and the way that those in power in that business were relegating us and marginalizing us and not allowing us to grow and thrive after that was just terrible. And a lot of that is still around today.”
HBO Max temporarily removed Gone With the Wind last week in order to add historical context to the 1939 film.
“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,” HBO Max said in a statement at the time. “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. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values.”
The company said that when the film returns to the recently launched streaming service, it will include “historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”
“If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history,” the streaming service’s statement concluded.
It will be returning to HBO with a new introduction by Black scholar and television host Jacqueline Stewart at an unknown date.
Turner Classic Movies host Stewart explained in an op-ed for CNN that she will “provide an introduction placing the film in its multiple historical contexts.”
“For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us,” Stewart wrote. “Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality. If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest, and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off.”
She also said it’s important for movies like Gone With the Wind to remain available for teaching moments.
“But it is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that Gone With the Wind should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis and discussion. Gone With the Wind is a prime text for examining expressions of white supremacy in popular culture,” Stewart wrote.
It’s unclear when the film will return to HBO Max. It is currently still available on Netflix in Canada.
—With files from The Canadian Press