"Gone with the Wind" was pulled from HBO Max while the long-running TV show "Cops" was outright canceled, a sign that entertainment companies are re-examining the content they offer in the wake of nationwide protests for racial justice and against police brutality.
Considered a classic of American cinema and winner of eight competitive Academy Awards, including best picture, the 1939 film starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel tells the story of southern belle Scarlett O'Hara and her love affair with Rhett Butler. Much of the four-hour film is set on the O'Hara plantation, Tara, and in Atlanta during and after the Civil War.
HBO Max parent AT&T Inc.'s move came amid growing concerns about racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while being arrested by a white Minneapolis police officer.
In a statement, HBO Max said "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." When the movie returns to the platform it will be "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 arrest of Mr. Floyd, who was heard uttering "I can't breathe" while the officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, was caught on video and has led to nationwide outrage over police brutality with protests continuing throughout the U.S. for two weeks.
The killing has also started to shine a light on cultural insensitivity and race relations which is now hitting the entertainment industry.
On Tuesday, the long-running show "Cops," a reality program which showed the police in a very favorable light, was canceled by the Paramount Network. Another pro-police reality show, "Live PD" has been pulled from the schedule of the A&E Network, which said it doesn't know when the program will return.
"Gone With the Wind," with its portrayal of happy slaves, has long been a lightning rod and criticized for its romanticism of slavery and that era of American history. Ms. McDaniel won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Mammy, a house slave, becoming the first black actor to win an Academy Award.
On Monday, John Ridley, who won an Oscar for the adapted screenplay for the movie "12 Years a Slave," a brutal look at slavery in the U.S., wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times calling for "Gone With the Wind" to be taken off HBO Max.
"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." Mr. Ridley wrote. The film, he said, perpetuates "the racism that's causing angry and grieving Americans to take to the streets."
"Cops," once considered a groundbreaking look at the day-to-day life of police on the beat is now also out of fashion.
Featuring the song "Bad Boys"--with the lyrics "Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"-- in its opening credits, "Cops" was a cinéma vérité-style documentary show about dealing with the mundane and the mayhem of being a police officer.
In a terse one-sentence statement, a spokeswoman for the Paramount Network said, "Cops' is not on the Paramount Network and we don't have any current or future plans for it to return." The network is a unit of ViacomCBS Inc.
The Paramount Network initially pulled "Cops" from its schedule last week amid nationwide antipolice protests after Mr. Floyd's killing.
"Cops" creator John Langley couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
"Cops" presented a very positive look at policing, showcasing officers handling everything from domestic disturbances and drunken driving to robberies and sex crimes. A typical episode followed a pair of uniform police on duty over a period of time. Police departments and sheriff departments from all over the country cooperated with the show's producers.
The series premiered on the Fox network in 1989 and instantly was a cult hit. The Paramount Network, which was then called Spike, picked up "Cops" after Fox let it go, and the show had been very successful for it as well and celebrated its 30th anniversary on television last year.