The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee is one of America’s great movie palaces, and often hosts screenings of classic films. From now on, however, one of the greatest films ever made will be banned from the theater for championing “white supremacy.”
With social justice warriors on the rampage against anything connected to the Confederacy and America’s struggle against slavery, it seems no target is too outrageous. The hysteria has even reached Hollywood, with a classic film no longer considered appropriate because it doesn’t provide a big enough apology for the Civil War.
The Orpheum has announced that it will no longer screen the film “Gone With the Wind” because it romanticizes the South of the Civil War era. Since Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and most of the film’s protagonists owned slaves, their story can no longer be told in civilized society, apparently.
The Gone With the Wind ban movement was led by Charles McKinney, a professor at Rhodes College. Wendi Thomas of the Center for Community Change announced the theater’s decision via Facebook. “Slowly but surely, we will rid this community of all tributes to white supremacy. #TakeEmDown #Charlottesville,” Thomas wrote in the Facebook post.
“The Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population,” Brett Batterson, president of the Orpheum Theatre Group, said in a statement.
The film was last screened at the theater on Aug. 11 and had been a 34-year tradition at the Orpheum.
The Orpheum Theatre Group decided not to include it in its 2018 Summer Movie Series after it received feedback from patrons following the mid August screening.
Some citizens in Memphis, whose population is about 64 percent African-American according to WREG, are on a mission to rid the city of historical references to its Confederate past.
MGM’s “Gone with the Wind” was a staple at the Orpheum. It screened the film four times during a single week in June of 1999, and actor Fred Crane, who played one of the Tarleton twins in the film, even made an appearance at the theater for the event, according to Commercial Appeal.
Yet, as Commercial Appeal reports, “even in 1939, producers were aware that the racial content of the film — adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s best-seller — might offend some viewers. Producer David O. Selznick was in correspondence with NAACP officials, and made some attempts to soften the racial imagery. (For example, in the novel the stranger who attempts to assault Scarlett is black.)”
According to story, the decision by the theater on the Gone With the Wind ban was made before Charlottesville, and was based on audience feedback.
According to the statement released by the theater, the Orpheum carefully reviewed all of the comments it received before making the decision to ban the film.
“This is something that’s been questioned every year, but the social media storm this year really brought it home,” said Batterson. “This is about the Orpheum wanting to be inclusive and welcoming to all of Memphis.”