This week, “Gone with the Wind” found itself in hot water after filmmaker John Ridley wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the film, asking HBO Max to pull it from the library due to its racist depictions of characters. The 81-year-old film is often regarded as one of the very best and is the biggest box office winner (adjusted for inflation) to ever grace the big screen. But that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. Far from it. And according to WarnerMedia chairman, Bob Greenblatt, the film isn’t ready for HBO Max. Not yet, at least.
Speaking on “The Jess Cagle Show” on SiriusXM (via The Wrap), Greenblatt was asked about the controversy surrounding the acclaimed film. And it doesn’t appear that the executive has any regrets about pulling the film from HBO Max.
“It was sort of a no brainer, I mean, we have the best of intentions obviously here,” Greenblatt said. “I don’t regret taking it down for a second. I only wish we had put it up in the first place with the disclaimer. And we just didn’t do that.”
As for why the film was okay to show on Turner Classic Movies but was taken down from HBO Max, Greenblatt explained that it all comes down to presentation. And when you’re dealing with a streaming service, there are some disadvantages.
“[TCM] talked about some of the racial stereotypes and some of issues with how the Civil War is portrayed, which is much more positive than focusing on slavery the darker side of that issue,” he said. “If it was on the linear network, it wouldn’t need it because they’re often talking about these issues. We failed to put the disclaimer in there, which sets up the issue, basically the issues that this movie really brings up. So, we took it off and we’re going to bring it back with a proper context, and it’s what we should have done.”
The executive, once again, confirmed that “Gone with the Wind” will return to HBO Max eventually, but the service has to figure out how to present it in a culturally sensitive way. He described the film as “complicated” and with plenty of “issues which are not insignificant.”
“We really do want to put the right context around it,” he explained. “We shouldn’t deny that [the racist depictions] exist, we should show them to people, but also in the right context. And, hopefully shed some light on these issues, which you know, affected Hollywood. The last century in Hollywood, there are many darker moments on film that we need to talk about.”
So, those hoping that HBO Max would relent and put the film back on the service immediately are probably not going to be happy by the executive’s comments. But for those of us who are willing to wait and see how WarnerMedia treats the iconic film and its inherent racism issues, it’ll be interesting to see how this is handled, as it may very well pave the way for how other platforms deal with similar issues.
But for now, if you want to watch “Gone with the Wind,” you’ll have to figure out another way that doesn’t include HBO Max.