HBO Max is crafting a “slow and careful” return for “Gone With the Wind” to the streaming service. But actress Queen Latifah is over it already.
“Let ‘Gone With the Wind’ be gone with the wind,” the award-winning actress told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
HBO Max has been under fire since it included the 1939 film in its official launch last month. The streaming network yanked it June 9 because of its “racist depictions” in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police last month, which led to mass protests worldwide. Now the network is planning to take its time in bringing it back to an audience.
“We are being slow and careful, and I think that’s the right response. It will be represented, but with context and framing,” Sandra Dewey, HBO Max’s president of business affairs and production, told Variety on Tuesday.
“No one wants to take [away] these pieces of content — and there are many of them — that have what would accurately be depicted as racial insensitivity,” she said. “We feel that requires a framework in today’s discourse.”
She added that concerns have also been raised about racist depictions in old “Looney Tunes” cartoons. In addition, Warner Bros. recently announced that it won’t allow character Elmer Fudd, a hunter, to carry a gun in a reboot of the animated show on HBO Max.
On Monday, it was revealed that the eventual reinstatement of “Gone With the Wind” will include an introduction by Turner Classic Movies host and University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart, who in a CNN op-ed wrote that the movie “romanticizes slavery as a benign and benevolent institution.”
But Latifah — who played “Gone With the Wind” star Hattie McDaniel, the first African American woman to win an Oscar, in Ryan Murphy’s recent Netflix miniseries “Hollywood” — lamented the treatment of McDaniel, who wasn’t allowed to even attend the 1940 ceremony itself.
“They didn’t even let her in the theater until right before she got that award. Someone came outside and brought her into the auditorium. She wasn’t even allowed to sit in there,” Latifah, 50, told the AP. “And then she had to read a speech that was written by a studio. You know that’s not what the hell she wanted to say.”
Despite her win, McDaniel — who played a maid in the film — was relegated to similar stereotypical parts thereafter, until her death in 1952 at age 59.
“All she could do was play the same kinds of roles … So the opportunities at that time and the way that those in power in that business were relegating us and marginalizing us and not allowing us to grow and thrive after that was just terrible,” Latifah said. “And a lot of that is still around today.”
However, Latifah said the protests about Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement are “like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life,” adding that she is “both ripped apart on the inside and at the same time inspired” by them. “I have renewed vigor every day because we have a lot to do.”
Now Latifah is hopeful that the momentum will continue and bring change.
“We’re seeing things that have been coming for a long time, and this is the powder keg. This is the perfect storm, if you will, for the opportunity for change to come,” she said. “So we shouldn’t stop — we shouldn’t take our foot off the gas.”
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