An attempt to sanitize our culture in this post-George Floyd world by tossing film classic Gone With the Wind on to the cinder heap has backfired with a bang bigger than all of the fireworks that have kept the West End of New Bedford awake for weeks.  

The whiners who have bemoaned the depiction of Black slaves in the eight-time Acadamy Award-winning 1939 Best Film directed by Victor Fleming have long tried to have it banned. And while it hasn't been shown in theaters for some time, the Clark Gable-Vivien Leigh epic Civil War-era flick has remained a favorite. 

AT&T Inc. property HBO Max recently pulled Gone With the Wind over concerns of "racial injustice" following the Floyd killing. The film depicts a slave culture on the southern plantation Tara that was just a bit too jolly for reality, which has upset some in the PC crowd. 

Getty Images

That aside, the film is also noted for the portrayal of the slave woman "Mammy" by actress Hattie McDaniel, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the film. It was the first time a Black woman had ever won an Academy Award. It would be 50 years before another Black woman, Whoopi Goldberg, would win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Ghost.  

Since AT&T Inc.'s decision to yank Gone With the Wind sales of the film have exploded according to Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Movies & TV” with the film's 70th Anniversary Edition ranking No. 1 in sales just four days after not even appearing on the list of best sellers. 

It was announced yesterday that HBO Max would return Gone With the Wind to its lineup, but with a special introduction discussing the historical context for the film. The introduction will be from TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who is also an African American cinema and media studies professor.

Another classic film featuring a Black artist that has been yanked from circulation by the PC police is the 1946 Disney classic Song of the South. That film also depicted slave life as being just a bit too happy but also featured the classic tales of Br'er RabbitBr'er Fox, and Br'er Bear as told by actor James Baskett, who won a special Academy Award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, making him the first Black male to win an Oscar.

As White knights rush to sanitize our culture for fear of offending our Black friends they should be careful. Their good intentions could prevent Black youth from ever learning about the great achievements of award winners such as Hattie McDaniel and James Baskett. 

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app