In the press

Going, Going, Gone with the Wind? Pop culture grapples with racism in past work


IN THE PAPERS – Thursday, June 11: We look at reactions to HBO Max's decision to pull "Gone with the Wind" from its catalogue temporarily over concerns about racism. But it's not just Hollywood – comedians around the world have seen their work pulled for racial stereotyping. Should they remain as a relic of history or should we move ahead with the times?


Should "Gone with the Wind" be viewed with modern-day attitudes towards racism? That's  the big question dividing the papers after streaming platform HBO Max pulled the 1939 film from its catalogue so it could add historical context. The film has been attacked for its depiction of slavery and its glorification of the pre-war South.

The conservative US magazine National Review argues that the film should stay because it is "an interesting if not offensive relic of old Hollywood". Furthermore, it says trying to stop people from viewing problematic images rather than pointing out their flaws is destructive. 

The LA Times, meanwhile, argues that banishing the film and other works does not pass for change, nor does it "cleanse Hollywood or the entertainment industry of racial bias and inequity". Hollywood companies would be better off working harder to diversify their executive ranks, the writer argues. 

And it is not just Hollywood that is facing a reckoning with its past work. The British tabloid Daily Star reports that British comedians Ant and Dec have apologised for their previous skits impersonating people of colour.

Netflix has, for its part, removed series like "Little Britain" and Australian comedian Chris Lilley's satirical shows over their depictions of race. The British conservative magazine The Spectator says that in the case of Lilley's shows, his non-white characters were in fact rounded and movingly sympathetic. The conservative magazine slams the "madness" of "cancel culture" and the "kangaroo court of correct thinking". 

Speaking of madness, Fox News host Tucker Carlson went on a "bonkers" rant against Sesame Street this week, according to the Huffington Post. The children's show featured a sketch of Elmo and his father discussing the anti-racism protests in the US, but for Carlson it was yet another example of decades of "relentless propaganda". 

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