The Orpheum Theatre board announced Aug. 25 that they will drop the 1939 Civil War-based film, â€œGone with the Wind,â€ from the venueâ€™s summer series next year, ending the 34-year-old tradition of its screening.
This yearâ€™s showing happened to land on Aug. 11, the same weekend the neo-Nazi rallies took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. The announcement was made after â€œa social media stormâ€ condemned the film for being racist and condoning white supremacy. The Orpheum decided not to show the film next year because it â€œdoes not adhere with the theaterâ€™s mission,â€ according to a public statement.
â€œAs an organization whose stated mission is to â€˜entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves,â€™ the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of the population,â€ Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum, said in the statement.
The theaterâ€™s decision to stop showing the movie has received support from some individuals, like Ed Yancey, a University of Memphis history and African-American history professor. He said he agreed with the choice because he understands how hurtful it can be for some to watch, especially during this time.
â€œIt definitely portrays black people in a poor way, and during a time like this, it can be very insensitive to African-Americans,â€ Yancey said. â€œI believe itâ€™s hard for people to watch because theyâ€™re viewing it from the same standpoint of certain films like â€˜Goodbye, Uncle Tomâ€™ and â€˜Birth of a Nation.â€™â€
Yancey also said it is hard for people to decipher whether or not the film is being used to promote malicious behavior or educate others about the importance of Civil War history and the Reconstruction era.
â€œIf itâ€™s a rally cry to hurt someone or be malicious, itâ€™s going to be taken that way,â€ Yancey said. â€œAt the same time, it could be used to pay homage or respect.â€
The Orpheumâ€™s decision to denounce the filmâ€™s showing has caused many people to express their criticism over Facebook. Many say it is unfair for the theater to stop showing the film because â€œit is an important part of history and art.â€ The film did win 10 Oscars in its time, including Â one for Hattie McDaniel who won best supporting actress for her portrayal of â€œMammy.â€ This was the first time a black actor won an Academy Award.
Still, some critics commented that because â€œGone with the Windâ€ is banned, the theater should also ban films like â€œRoots,â€ â€œThe Color Purpleâ€ and â€œThe Help,â€ which also feature aspects of slavery, discrimination and racism.
Yancey said people who are critical of the theaterâ€™s decision are being hypocrites in terms of political correctness.
â€œPeople have a problem with political correctness when it applies to them, but they donâ€™t have a problem when they expect others to be politically correct,â€ Yancey said.
Yancey also said he thinks the criticism of the Orpheumâ€™s decision shows how loyal Americans are to an ideology, person or place, rather than being loyal to the country, which is â€œcausing America to be at a standstill.â€
Despite the criticism the Orpheum has received for its recent change to its summer series, the theater said they will feature more recent and classic films in their 2018 movie series, which will be announced in the spring.