'Gone with the Wind' ban in US gets mixed Israeli reaction

Movie lovers who adore the film and think that HBO’s action is political correctness at its worst squared off with those who feel its depiction of slaves is disturbingly racist.

Gone with the Wind. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Gone with the Wind.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The decision by the HBO Max streaming service to pull the Oscar-winning Civil War epic Gone with the Wind from its offerings due to the film’s flattering portrayal of slavery – in light of America’s reckoning with systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd by police and subsequent protests – ignited controversy all over the world, including in Israel.
Movie lovers who adore the classic 1939 film and think that HBO’s action is political correctness at its worst squared off against those who feel that the film’s depiction of black slaves as happy and devoted to their masters is disturbingly racist. The movie, based on the bestselling novel by Margaret Mitchell, tells the story of a Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), growing up on a plantation in the deep South whose idyllic life and romances are disrupted by the Civil War Its 50-year anniversary revival in 1989 included a re-release in Israel, which drew crowds.
The two schools of thought on the film are reflected in the Israeli responses. Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg tweeted, “Growing up on Gone with the Wind, I dressed as Scarlett O’Hara and realize that the film records a time that cannot be erased from history. And still, if each of us were a little more invested in understanding the feelings of blacks, women and minorities and working for equality and representation rather than reiterating how stupid PC is, then the world would be a better place”
Shelly Yachimovich, the former leader of the Labor Party, had a different take, tweeting, “I am in favor of PC, as it is an effective way to protect the weak from roughness and brutality. But to take away Gone with the Wind is pure folly. It’s like throwing out archaeological finds that document the oppression of their time. By the way, if we rule to make a similar erasure in the name of feminism – cultural history will be erased entirely.”
Nadav Eyal, the chief international correspondent for Reshet News, was also firmly in the pro-Wind camp. “Toppling statues of slave traders is not a big disaster. They have no say in today’s cultural discourse. But HBO has now pulled Gone with the Wind from its streaming service because of the film’s flattering depiction of slavery. And that, with all due respect, is PC madness. It’s like taking a book out of a library because it doesn’t match today’s codes,” he tweeted.
Merav Ben-Ari, a former Knesset member from the Kulanu Party, expressed her fear that the banning of Gone with the Wind would just be the tip of the iceberg tweeting, “I sincerely hope that after Gone with the Wind, North and South, my immortal series, in which I discovered the beloved Patrick Swayze, z’’l, will not also be dropped.”
Several Twitter uses tweeted a cartoon from Yediot Aharonot depicting Clark Gable with Leigh in his arms in the most iconic image from the movie, with a Ku Klux Klan member looking on and saying, “Isn’t it romantic?”
AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which runs HBO Max, said Gone with Wind would return to HBO Max soon with “a discussion of its historical context” and a denouncement of racist depictions.