George Floyd’s death continues to reverberate in every aspect of culture, it seems, and some of the biggest tremors have been felt in the world of entertainment.
The latest to feel the shake: Gone With the Wind. HBO Max pulled this classic bit of American cinema from its platform, announcing that it’ll reappear once some “historical context” is added. In a statement, HBO Max said:
Gone With the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society … These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.
The move angered some, including former news host Megyn Kelly, who lobbed several Twitter broadsides at the decision. “Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too?” she tweeted. “Guess how many films we’ll have left? Where does this end??” Naturally the backlash has had its own ferocious backlash.
But Gone With the Wind is hardly alone in getting yanked from various entertainment platforms. Cops, which was heading into its 33rd season, was cancelled by Paramount Network, with the studio pointedly saying that it has no “current or future plans for it to return.” (The show had been pretty controversial for decades.) The group Color of Change, which had been asking for the show’s cancellation for a while now, has now turned its attention to A&E, asking that cable network to shelve its own police-based reality show, Live PD. A&E did pull some recent episodes and is allegedly “re-evaluating” the future of its highly rated reality show. But series host Dan Abrams promised on Twitter that the program is “coming back.”
Some say it’s not enough. Writing for USA Today, Kelly Lawler asked whether it was “time for police television series to be cancelled for good.” Lawler wrote:
Yes, cop shows can offer well-crafted and compelling stories. Many are among my favorite TV series. Law [and Order] is a classic for a reason. USA’s Psych is a family favorite comedy. FX’s Justified, about a Kentucky U.S. marshal, begins its very first episode with an unforgivable abuse of law enforcement power, but is on my list of the best TV shows of the 2010s. But art doesn’t exist in a bubble. Just as many called for muting R. Kelly in response to his alleged sex crimes, canceling cop shows in response to systemic abuses across the institution they portray isn’t unreasonable.
But while some entertainment options are being pulled, others are being pooled together—specifically by Netflix, which added a “Black Lives Matter” genre tag to its lineup. The tag, the company says, will be a semi-permanent feature, though it might be folded into a wider genre called Black Stories.
The gaming world is chiming in as well. The online versions of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption shut down for a couple of hours in honor of Floyd, while Call of Duty’s makers pushed a message to the beginning of the game that read, in part, “Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.”
Celebrities have gotten into the act, too. Rapper Kanye West has donated $2 million to the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Star Wars star John Boyega spoke at a Black Lives Matter protest in London. Taylor Swift encouraged her fans to get political, and in one of the more unusual protests, K-Pop fans took to Twitter to flood Twitter feeds bearing the tag #WhiteLivesMatter with fan art and clips of their favorite bands. (BTS, one of the most popular K-Pop bands, donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, by the way—a donation that was quickly matched by its fans.)
And lest we forget, VeggieTales’ creator Phil Vischer wrote about being the beneficiary of “racial injustice” on his Holy Post blog.
We built a system to favor ourselves. And it worked amazingly well. Every generation of my family has benefited from the color of our skin. Every generation. It didn’t stop with the Emancipation Proclamation. It didn’t stop with Brown v Board of Education. And it still hasn’t stopped today.
Of course, the coronavirus doesn’t care a whit about all these cultural tremors. It’s still doing its thing, and society is still reacting to it. Big events are still being cancelled, including the music festivals Lollapalooza and Coachella. But other venues are contemplating reopening. That includes AMC Theaters, one of the country’s biggest cinema chains. After announcing a loss of more than $2 billion, AMC announced it was going to “fully open” this July. (Meanwhile, some are wondering whether people will ever go to movies again.) Universal Orlando Resort has already reopened its doors, with Disney planning to open its Orlando-based Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks on July 11.
But we’re also beginning to understand the mental and emotional toll the virus and the subsequent lockdown has taken as well. Data compiled by Florida International University suggests, for instance, that teens may be more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol when they can’t spend time with their friends. Oh, and using e-cigarettes is popular with teens, too. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that about one in every 10 middle- and high-school students have used e-cigs in the last month, with rates at some schools soaring to 60%.
Generally, we like to wrap up Culture Clips with something a little lighter to end your reading experience. That seems in short supply right now. So instead, we’ll announce that the trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music has dropped.
Will the movie be any good? Who knows? But in the trailer, Bill does offer a nice word of advice. Be excellent to each other.