Megyn Kelly & Whoopi Goldberg React to HBO Max Temporarily Pulling 'Gone With the Wind' From Streaming Library
By Zach Seemayer
Following HBO Max's announcement that they would be temporarily pulling Gone With the Wind from its slate of streaming options -- amid outcries over the film's dated depictions of slavery and racism -- celebs across the entertainment industry weighed in on the decision.
Megyn Kelly took to Twitter on Tuesday to decry the streaming service's announcement as censorship of a "cultural touchstone." (Gone With the Wind is still currently available for online rental on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube and more.)
"Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too? Guess how many films we’ll have left? Where does this end??" Kelly wrote. "Ok @hbomax - let’s do this - every episode of “Friends” needs to go right now. If not, you hate women (& LGBTQ ppl, who also don’t fare well on “Friends”). Obviously Game of Thrones has to go right now. Anything by John Hughes ... Woody Allen... could go on & on... & on...& on..."
"For the record, you can loathe bad cops, racism, sexism, bias against the LGBTQ community, and not censor historical movies, books, music and art that don’t portray those groups perfectly," she added. "Ppl understand art reflects life... as we evolve, so do our cultural touchstones."
Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too? Guess how many films we’ll have left?Where does this end?? https://t.co/Bh8mqpv0l3
Ok @hbomax - let’s do this - every episode of “Friends” needs to go right now. If not, you hate women (& LGBTQ ppl, who also don’t fare well on “Friends”). Obviously Game of Thrones has to go right now. Anything by John Hughes ... Woody Allen... could go on & on... & on...& on... https://t.co/dVXWssnFKF
For the record, you can loathe bad cops, racism, sexism, bias against the LGBTQ community, and not censor historical movies, books, music and art that don’t portray those groups perfectly. Ppl understand art reflects life... as we evolve, so do our cultural touchstones.
Meghan McCain also raised the topic with her co-hosts on The View, leading to a discussion about the limits of censorship.
"Personally, I think if you put things in a historical context -- because if you start pulling every film... you're going to have to pull all of the blaxploitation movies because they're not depicting us the right way... That's a very long list of films," noted Whoopi Goldberg, who became the second African American woman to win an Academy Award for acting, behind Gone With the Wind's Hattie McDaniel, for her win for Ghost in 1991.
Goldberg suggested the streaming service add a disclaimer before the film, alerting viewers to the context of the production.
"If you put, before you show the film: Listen, this was shot when things were different, and we don't, you know, we don't do this anymore," she explained, also adding the issue of context as she addressed this week's cancellation of the long-running police reality series Cops. "You have to put something in context, and I think with Cops,listen, if you balance the people you arrest -- if you arrested everybody, if you make it widespread -- white people, yellow people, brown people -- if everybody's getting arrested, you can have Cops. It just feels like it's a whole bunch of black people all the time. I'm just saying."
CONTROVERSY OVER ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ REMOVAL: HBO Max has temporarily removed the title from its streaming library in order to add historical context to the 1939 film — the co-hosts weigh in on if this was the right decision. https://t.co/aMj3ypbrZCpic.twitter.com/50s4Pxa22O
Amid worldwide protests over systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, Gone With the Wind has also been part of the cultural conversation recently for its role in Ryan Murphy's new series, Hollywood, which stars Queen Latifah as Hattie McDaniel, who grappled with the racism surrounding the film's popularity and her Oscar win.
A spokesperson for HBO Max explained in a statement to ET that the film would eventually return to its streaming catalog, along with additional content that would contextualize the controversial historical depictions and elements of the story.
"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. 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 statement reads.
"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," the statement continued. "If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history."
The once-acclaimed 1939 Civil War drama -- which has long been revered by film critics and is the highest-grossing movie of all time when adjusting box office totals for inflation -- was recently decried in a high-profile op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, penned by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley.
Ridley called on HBO Max to pull the film -- which tells the story of a tumultuous love affair between two wealthy Southern aristocrats and is set against the backdrop of the end of the Civil War and the destruction of the Confederacy. Ridley argued that the movie "doesn’t just 'fall short' with regard to representation. It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south."
"It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color," Ridley wrote. "It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the 'Lost Cause,' romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was -- a bloody insurrection to maintain the 'right' to own, sell and buy human beings."