A Memphis movie theater canceled its annual screening of “Gone With the Wind” following complaints of racially insensitive content.
The Orpheum Theatre has aired the classic 1939 film for the past 34 years during its summer movie series. The theater received complaints after the movie’s screening this year, which took place the night before the deadly events of a “Unite the Right” rally by white nationalists on Aug. 12. Moviegoers criticized the film’s romanticized portrayal of slavery and life on a Southern plantation.
“Gone With the Wind” will not play in 2018’s screening series as a result. “The recent screening of ‘Gone With the Wind’ at the Orpheum on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, generated numerous comments,” Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum Theater Group, said in a statement to the New York Times. “The Orpheum carefully reviewed all of them. 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.”
The theater’s decision, however, has generated mixed responses from its fanbase. While some decry its “censorship” of the Oscar-winner, others applaud the theater for pulling the screening.
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“Shame on you for removing ‘GWTW.’ I have always enjoyed shows and performances at your venue. You have lost a loyal customer due to your small minded censorship,” one commenter wrote on the Orpheum Theatre’s Facebook page.
Another said, “I applaud your difficult but proper decision to cut ‘Gone With The Wind’ from your film choices. Most in our culture have moved on, and I hope those angered can find other ways to watch the film while remaining supporters of your important and unique business.”