‘Gone With the Wind,’ ‘The Mighty Boosh,’ ‘Summer Heights High’ and More Pull as Feckless Streaming Sevices Try to Appear Like They’re Doing Something

Gone With the Wind

If you don’t like a TV show or a movie, you don’t have to watch it. This was true in the days of over-the-air television and it’s even more true in the current age of streaming media. You won’t even accidentally flip past something you don’t want to see on Netflix or Amazon Prime, you have to specifically go looking for it.

Despite this, TV streamers like Netflix, HBO Max and BBC’s iPlayer are pulling shows off of them that they think could be seen as racially insensitive, because appearing to do something while you’re actually doing nothing is all the rage.

For starters, in the US, HBO Max has temporarily pulled Gone With the Wind, the movie that still has the highest adjusted box office gross of all-time 80 years later. I think it’s undeniable that the film is racist both in its depiction of black characters in the film and its lionization of the Confederacy, but it’s also one of the greatest movies ever made in terms of technical achievement and plot. Like the earlier film Birth of a Nation, which essentially created modern film cinematography despite its pro-KKK stance, I think people are on the whole mature enough to watch a film without internalizing its morality.

But surely HBO Max pulling Gone With the Wind so that they can add “proper historical context” to it means no one will watch it and have their brains warped, right? Turns out Gone With the Wind was the best-selling movie on Amazon after HBO announced they were pulling it until they could think of some way to say “people were more okay with racism in 1939 than they are today.” You can get it on DVD, Blu-Ray or digitally as a purchase or a rental because it’s Gone With the Wind, it’s the most-watched movie in history, you can’t just make it disappear.

But HBO isn’t the only streaming company hoping that pulling a few high-profile popular shows to show how sensitive they are to people of color and hopefully avoid scrutiny of their corporate practices. Netflix in Australia and New Zealand pulled most of Chris Lilley’s shows like Summer Heights High, one of the highest-rated shows in the history of Australian television.

Meanwhile, in the UK, The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain, League of Gentlemen, and an episode of Fawlty Towers have been pulled from various streaming services. These are all very popular shows In both the UK and US, especially among Gen X comedy nerds who won’t shut up about Mr. Show.

Some remain available in the US on Amazon, but Lilley’s shows and Little Britain aren’t even available to buy digitally.

The thing is, you can’t make things disappear. DVDs and Blu-Rays of these shows exist, and if those get pulled from sale then people will just pirate them without even feeling bad about it since they can’t buy them.

But people have labeled these shows and others as problematic for years, and if they presented a problem that these streamers actually cared about they would have taken them down years ago or just not bought them in the first place. Netflix not only bought the streaming rights to all of Chris Lilley’s shows, they commissioned and produced his newest series Lunatics well after Lilley’s blackface schtick had worn thin for most of Australia. These are moves meant to generate positive PR but that in the end don’t serve anyone or actually deliver anything of meaning.

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