HBO Max created a firestorm last week when it yanked “Gone With the Wind” — a 1939 film that won eight Academy Awards, including the first ever for a black woman — from its streaming service, calling the classic film “racist.”
And that’s just fine with rapper and actress Queen Latifah.
“Let ‘Gone with the Wind’ be gone with the wind,” said Latifah, whose real name is Dana Elaine Owens.
Owens, incidentally, portrays Hattie McDaniel, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy in GWTW, in the new Netflix series “Hollywood.”
She said McDaniel was treated badly during the 1940 Oscars ceremony. “They didn’t even let her in the theater 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,” Owens told The Associated Press.
“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,” she said. “And a lot of that is still around today.”
Last Tuesday, HBO Max yanked the Civil War epic from its catalog amid rising racial tensions in dozens of cities across the nation. The film immediately became the bestselling film on Amazon by early Wednesday morning.
HBO’s move is the latest from the cancel culture following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died on Memorial Day while in police custody.
“’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,” said a network spokesman. “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,” the spokesman told Variety.
“These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its 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 spokesman said.
The classic 1939 film is based on Margaret’s Mitchell’s novel and earned 13 Academy Award nominations, winning eight, including best picture, best director, best actress, and best adapted screenplay.
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