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Brief Published: 16 Jun 2020

Content Contextualised: HBO Reconsiders Gone with the Wind

Contextualising legacy content is vital work for entertainment brands

Warner-Media-owned US streaming platform HBO Max has temporarily removed 1939 film Gone with the Wind – notorious for its romanticisation of slavery before and during the American Civil War – from its service. HBO plans to return the movie with additional discussion of its historic and cultural context.

Contextualising classic content libraries for modern audiences – and denouncing outdated and oppressive attitudes – is vital community work for entertainment's legacy brands. Disney's streaming platform Disney+ shows disclaimers before back-catalogue films like Dumbo (1941) and Peter Pan (1953), warning that they "may contain outdated cultural depictions". HBO's efforts demonstrate how brands can turn this work into an opportunity to support audiences around sensitive issues.

Earlier this month, the broadcaster released I May Destroy You, the latest show from British actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel, which centres on a Black woman navigating her career and social connections while coming to terms with a sexual assault. To further the conversation on issues addressed in the show and give resources to the audience, HBO launched Gathering the Pieces – a month-long companion series of live conversations on social media between Black influencers and mental health and wellness experts. HBO also partnered with US mental wellness platform Therapy for Black Girls to curate a mental health and selfcare tool kit around key themes from the show.

Entertainment brands should take the opportunity offered by on-demand libraries and digital hangouts to enhance their content with cultural context and start important conversations. We will be highlighting anti-racist communication strategies in our Language of Now 2020 Update, publishing at the end of June. For more on the latest digital community tools, check out State of Media: 2020 Update.

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