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Memphis theater pulls ‘Gone with the Wind’ amid online backlash
The movie was pulled for being racially insensitive to Black Americans.
One Memphis theater thinks it’s time to place Gone with the Wind back on the shelf. After 34 years of screening the film, the Orpheum Theatre retired Gone with the Wind from the theater’s summer movie series.
Gone with the Wind was previously played during a series of summer films from June to August. This year’s line-up included Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Dirty Harry, among others. But after originally announcing the film’s 2017 screening, the theater received numerous complaints online, with critics focusing on the film’s sanitized view of slavery and the Antebellum South. So after showing the movie on Aug. 11, the Orpheum announced last Friday that Gone with the Wind will not be shown next year.
“As an organization whose stated mission is to ‘entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves,’ the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population,” theater president Brett Batterson said in a statement, CBS News reports.
Batterson also spoke to the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the film’s removal, explaining that the theater repeatedly debated removing the film in the past.
“This is something that’s been questioned every year, but the social media storm this year really brought it home,” Batterson said, after online complaints arose from both the public and among academics.
Most notably, Rhodes Colllege professor Charles McKinney, director of Rhodes’ Africana Studies Program, turned to Twitter to criticize the Orpheum’s film lineup for the summer. He also posted a photo of the summer screenings for the theater, revealing that only two films actually feature prominent Black characters: Coming to America and Gone with the Wind.
— Charles W. McKinney (@kmt188) July 13, 2017
While Gone with the Wind’s 2017 screening coincided with the white supremacist Charlottesville protests during the weekend of Aug. 11, the Orpheum claims that the film sparked controversy long before Charlottesville began. But in the wake of the protests, opinions remain as heated as ever. Some defend the theater’s decision, pointing to Gone with the Wind’s highly glorified look at the Confederacy, its racist stereotypes, and its terrible writing.
Thank God. Not the greatest movie ever.
— Denise Sanders (@Ducky5349) August 28, 2017
Why should a movie with racist beliefs and stereotypes continue to be shown if those stereotypes are offensive and outdated?
— Brianna (@briannafayee) August 28, 2017
This movie is garbage anyway. Outside of it's historically cinematic shots, it's bad. Characterizations are grossly exaggerated
— Kin The Rex (@KindesaurusRex) August 28, 2017
To everyone upset by this you can buy the DVD and use the receipt to wipe ur tears 🌈
— Caitlin O'Grady (@caitogreat) August 28, 2017
Others were not happy. Some went as far to cry censorship, arguing that the theater is erasing history.
OMG, did I REALLY just read a theatre in Tennessee is cancelling their showings of Gone with the Wind because it's "insensitive"? Speechless
— NeuroscientistPhD (@neuroscientist1) August 26, 2017
Gone with the Wind banned
Beatings for bad thinking
Freespeech begets violence on campuses
Tell us again who the fascists are
— Razor (@hale_razor) August 28, 2017
Tributes to the Confederacy have remained contentious issues in Charlottesville’s wake. Protesters toppled a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina, and over 20,000 online protesters signed a petition requesting a Confederate statue in Portsmouth, Virginia be replaced with a tribute to rapper Missy Elliott. President Donald Trump has since condemned Confederate statues’ removal, calling their appearance “beautiful.”
H/T CBS News
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Waypoint, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.