In light of, to put it mildly, “recent events”, some companies and media groups grew a little antsy about some of their content. Perhaps most famously, on June 9th HBO Max flat out pulled Gone with the Wind from its service. It was eventually put back, but with some new additions. Accompanying the movie are three new videos listed as “special features” that offer historical context and critique for the films handling of race and slavery.
The three videos are:
- TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights host Jacqueline Stewart giving a critique of the film as both cinema and as advocacy of white supremacy.
- The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival panel moderated by Donald Bogle bluntly titled “The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind.”
- A four-minute video titled Hattie McDaniel: What a Character! Which talks about the titular actress who played the part of “mammy” in the film and won the supporting actress Oscar.
It’s important to note that McDaniel wasn’t allowed to attend the premiere of her own film because it was in a whites-only theater. It’s also worth noting that during the Oscars she sat at a separate side table, located at the far wall of the room, alone with her white agent because the hotel where the Oscars were held didn’t allow Black people, but allowed her to attend “as a favor”.
I’m of the opinion that rather than pretend history didn’t happen, we should confront it, and personally, I think this is a pretty fair way of handling the situation. Both the treatment of Hattie McDaniel and the attitudes present in the film can’t be forgotten, and we should wrestle with what these things say about us as people and what we can learn from them.
Somewhat related, white-actors Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell have stepped away from voicing the roles of “Missy” in Big Mouth and “Molly” in Central Park respectively as those characters are African American and the actors felt it was inappropriate to continue performing them. On June 26th, Mike Henry announced that he would no longer be voicing Cleveland Brown on Family Guy (and the now-cancelled Cleveland Show spinoff) after doing so for 20 years.
Also, it was recently reported that episodes of 30 Rock featuring scenes of blackface are being scrubbed from the internet at Tina Fey’s request. The next day, an episode of The Office was edited to remove a scene with blackface, as was an episode of Community.
Not to get on my soapbox, but I think now is a good time to remind you all that corporations can’t edit a DVD or Blu-Ray that you own.
Sonny Bunch wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post titled “Don’t throw out your DVDs. They’re your best protection against corporate censorship” and he essentially argues this very point. The fact is, most corporations aren’t censoring their content to make the world a better place, they’re doing it to make themselves look better. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see the dangerous implications of this practice.
To hear further thoughts on racial contextualization, hosted above is our latest episode of Monthly Movie News! Listen to Melvin and me banter about how corporations may not be making these changes for society’s sake and several other newsworthy topics!
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Daniel Braindead is a Producer and Cohost of Cinematic Doctrine. Combining his BA of Biblical Studies, brief study in Journalism, and an overdose of film trivia and film history, Daniel brings clarity and comedy to every episode of the Cinematic Doctrine podcast! His prowess for cultural understanding and biblical application always brings something new to the table.