'Gone With the Wind' removal 'too extreme': Chinese netizens

By Ji Yuqiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/10 19:32:27

Rhett Butler (left) and Scarlett (right) in Gone With the Wind. Photo: screenshot of video posted on Sina Weibo

Gone with ... racism?  HBO Max removed the film “Gone With the Wind” from its platform citing racist descriptions. Illustration: GT

The classic US film Gone With the Wind has been temporarily pulled from streaming platform HBO Max amid current protests against police racism and brutality in the US. When the news of its temporary removal reached China, many Chinese netizens expressed their disapproval, saying that the action goes too far. 

The hashtag for the removal has been viewed more than 63 million times on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo as of Wednesday afternoon.

"I support fighting against racism but the move is extreme. Opposing discrimination does not mean negating the past. The film taking place during the Civil War should be put in the context of that time. Political correctness should not trump art" was a message echoed by many netizens on Chinese social media.

HBO Max made the decision to pull the film temporarily from its platform on Tuesday after screenwriter John Ridley, who won an Academy Award for adapted screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, called for its removal "for the near term" in an Op-Ed published Monday in the Los Angeles Times. 

Ridley pointed out that the film perpetuates "some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color" and "glorifies the antebellum south."

Gone With the Wind, both the film and its original novel, are well-known in China.

The film has a high score of 9.3/10 on Chinese media review platform Douban given by more than 480,000 reviews, ranking 25th among all movies. Many classic lines from the film have spread far and wide among Chinese audiences.

"It is one of my favorite English novels and deeply reflects the US social problems after the Civil War. The line 'Tomorrow is another day' has inspired so many Chinese people, including myself," netizen "baiyangzuokexin" commented on Sina Weibo.  

'Extreme measure'

Chinese film critic Shi Wenxue said he opposes Ridley's call for the film's removal, saying that he considers it an extreme measure that treats a historical artwork wrongly. 

"According to his opinion, many classic US and European works do not meet the standards of political correctness. Should all of them be removed or banned?" Shi, also a teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, HBO Max has said Gone With the Wind will return to the service with a "discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions" of black people and slavery.

Shi said that he feels the company's decision to remove the film is a commercial action due to pressure from current public opinion. 

The film released in 1939 tells the love story between aristocrats Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler and stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel and Olivia de Havilland. The story takes place on a plantation outside Atlanta during and after the US Civil War.

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