Southern theater ends decades-old "Gone with the Wind" screenings after racism complaints

Posted on: August 29th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives(TENNESSEE) — A Memphis theater that has played Gone with the Wind every year for the past 34 years has ended its annual screening after critics called the 1939 Oscar-winning epic “racially insensitive.”

While the August 11 screening at the The Orpheum Theatre went on as planned, next year’s showing will not.

Critics are calling the move — which comes as Civil War monuments are being torn down in the United States — “cultural cleansing.”

For its part, Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum Theatre Group, said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly, “…[T]he Orpheum has made this determination early in response to specific inquiries from patrons…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.”

Gone with the Wind, which is set before, during and after the Civil War, follows the life of a pampered Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh. The movie has been criticized in the past for glorifying the plantation life, and for its demeaning portrayal of African American servant characters.

Some also credit Gone with the Wind for starting to change the way African Americans were seen by filmmakers.  Actress Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in the movie, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the first African American ever to win an Oscar  The film won 10 trophies in all at the 12th Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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