Last I checked, the right to watch old movies on paid subscription services wasn't in the Bill of Rights. So when HBO Max steathily pulled GONE WITH THE WIND from its rotation a day after this L.A. Times opinion piece, cries of "this is censorship!" predictably followed on social media (despite the movie still being widely available in plenty of other places/formats). People who didn't give two fucks about the movie 24 hours ago suddenly wanted to die on Hattie McDaniel Hill. One thing is for sure, HBO Max, despite a deeper bench than the Dream Team, suffered yet another PR blunder in its newborn phase. Here's how it went down last night...
Word breaks that HBO Max has yanked GWTW seemingly out of the blue.
Then all of the brand new GWTW fans on Twitter starting filling their diapers. Until...
Of course, many people waking up today are only reading the "HBO Max Pulls GWTW" hed because Twitter and have no clue it's just temporary. So they then bray about "censorship" when, again, that is not the issue at hand. At all. And some really took the bait.
Last I checked, Warner wasn't the government. But this particular carton of eggs is all over HBO Max's face. Had they not handled this so clumsily, then this isn't even an issue and yet another PR disaster for the fledgling streamer.
Once again, this was some botched shit. Rather than quietly pull GWTW, HBO Max could've just put in the disclaimer and issued a statement. Or even just slid in the disclaimer and let people discover it when they go to watch GWTW. Or announce they were just temporarily pulling it instead of doing on the sneak and then needing to issue a PR statement at goddman midnight. It was some real Kang and Kodos shit.
At the end of the day, HBO Max will survive and eventually thrive. And shit, I'm rooting for them. It's just stunning to see a company that mastered the game for so long butcher so much in so little time.
*As big as movie guy as I am, I never watched GWTW and never had any desire. A four-hour movie based on a Civil War romance novel? I'm good. If I didn't pull it out of the brown, clamshell Movies & More case even once in the decade that I helped run that place, then I'll never watch it. However, I still think if people want to, they should be able to.
*The other issue here is that it opens a can of worms. For sure, there are other movies available on the service that one can deem "problematic" by their own subjective standards. How will those be handled? Which films get disclaimers and which don't? If a movie is only pulled temporarily, what's the appropriate amount of time to return it? One month? Two? Six? A week with a disclaimer?
*Warner Brothers did pretty much the same thing with their older cartoons that haven't aged well.
*And for years now, TCM has a disclaimer/discussion before airing the 1939 film and it's the perfectly reasonable thing to do. Why was this so fucking hard?
*Hey HBO Max, from your boy RA...