Gone With the Wind is returning to HBO Max—with a small addition. The 1939 film was yanked from the streaming service Wednesday (leading to controversy), but will be back with a scholarly introduction. USA Today reports it's not yet clear when exactly it will be back, but when it does return, Turner Classic Movies host and African American cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart will have penned the introduction. "It is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that Gone with the Wind should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis and discussion," Stewart writes in a CNN op-ed. The film romanticizes the antebellum South and depicts slavery as harmless, and that depiction continues to have a major impact on the way audiences today view that period—and black people.
Yet at the same time, it's "also a valuable document of and testimony to Black performance during an era when substantial roles for Black talent were extremely rare in Hollywood films," Stewart writes. But, in yet another layer, when Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for her role as Mammy, she was not allowed to sit at the same table as the rest of the cast. "I will provide an introduction placing the film in its multiple historical contexts" when it returns to HBO Max, Stewart writes. "For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us. Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality. If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off." (More Gone With the Wind stories.)