HBO Max Pulls ‘Gone With the Wind’

Gone with the Wind is a very important film in cinematic history. So is Birth of a Nation. They did about the same level of success and Gone with the Wind took over the box office mantle that Birth of A Nation had. With that said Gone with the Wind is nominally less offensive than Birth of the Nation and that’s not counting the fact a pivotal romantic scene is a rape. Rhett Butler rapes Scarlett. She wakes up the next morning whistling and smiling. Gone with the Wind should not be erased from history but it should no longer be the standard of which we judge a film any more than Birth of the Nation. These two films have their origin in the Dunning School of Civil War history which is an inaccurate fabrication of the Civil War. For decades the facts of the Civil War have been willfully distorted and reconfigured.

These films are technically important films. But they also perpetuated racist stereotypes, lamented a “lost way of life”. Gone With the Wind. Except it didn’t go. Watch 13th and you find out about Convict Leasing which was slavery by another name. Then there’s Jim Crow and Segregation. These films were nostalgia for poor white people who wanted to sentimentally reflect about the loss of wealth built on the blood and sweat of African Americans. These are not values we want to uphold in our society.

I think we must continue to do the work to deal with the ramifications of art on the experience of others. That doesn’t mean destroy or make it disappear. But it sure as hell means don’t commodify it .

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