Movie Theater Cancels Screening Of ‘Gone With The Wind’ Due To Public Backlash

Movie Theater Cancels Screening Of ‘Gone With The Wind’ Due To Public Backlash
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Updated 10 months ago

The board of Memphis, Tennessee's Orpheum Theater has deemed Gone with the Wind "insensitive," after receiving "numerous comments" from patrons who expressed their concerns following an August 11 screening. 

After much consideration, the board agreed not to include the classic film in next summer’s screening series.

Their statement read:

“While title selections for the series are typically made in the spring of each year, the Orpheum has made this determination early in response to specific inquiries from patrons. The Orpheum appreciates feedback on its programming from all members of the mid-south community. The recent screening of Gone With the Wind at the Orpheum on Friday, August 11, 2017, generated numerous comments. The Orpheum carefully reviewed all of them.”

The statement continues: 

“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.”

Public reaction was mixed.

It's worth noting that many who found the time to comment used slippery slope fallacies comparing the Orpheum's decision to book burning and censorship. This could not be further from the truth. This was one theater and one screening.

Gone with the Wind is readily available in every home video incarnation known to man. It's not banned, nor has it ever been banned. It has not been disowned, or shut away by the company which owns the rights to it, as in the case of Disney's Song of the South or Warner Bros. The Devils, which is still largely unavailable on the home video market. Gone with the Wind gets at least one showing per month on Turner Classic Movies.

America often reflects upon the sensitivity of releasing certain cultural artifacts in the wake of a tragedy (in this case, the violent demonstrations which recently took place in Charlottesville, Virginia). Many movies were edited, reshot, or delayed because of September 11, for example. Clear Channel stations shied away from playing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" at that time. AMC canceled a showing of 1974's The Towering Inferno set to air on that date. Fight Club's release was delayed because of the Columbine shooting.

The Civil War drama has found itself at the center of controversy more than once for its often sympathetic view of the South––and plantation life––at the time. Warner Bros. has often refrained from commenting on the film's racial politics. The film dominated the 1939 Academy Awards, winning eight statuettes, including Best Actress for Vivien Leigh as the inimitable Scarlett O'Hara and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, a loyal house slave.