Yes, "Gone With the Wind" Is a Racist Film

Updated on July 13, 2019
Disastrous Grape profile image

Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.


Gone with the Wind is a 1939 historical romance film based on the book of the same name by Margaret Mitchell. It stars Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in the lead roles. It's probably one of my favorite films of all time . . .

And it's racist.

I've wanted to write about Gone with the Wind and its controversy for a long time. I just didn't feel like dealing with the droves of people who always crawl out of the woodworks to defend the film as "not racist" in long and impassioned (see: ridiculous) rants against people who are just telling the truth.

But the reality is, Gone with the Wind is racist.

Anyone with a lick of common sense can see it. The problem is that -- just like the racist slaveowners in the film -- people just don't want to see it.

Mammy's love for her owners was repulsively depicted as doglike devotion.
Mammy's love for her owners was repulsively depicted as doglike devotion. | Source

I read the book when I was young and fell in love with both it and the film. As a result, I did some background reading on how the book came to be. Turns out Margaret Mitchell grew up in the South, listening to racist and bitter ex-slaveowners wax nostalgic about chattel slavery. They insisted that life was better when black people were slaves, that black people liked being slaves, and the North was evil for bringing an end to it.

These were delusional, racist old men who passed down their delusions to a very young Margaret Mitchell, who in turn wrote a book about black slaves who loved their masters and loved serving them.

Scarlet is frequently heard to say "We didn't treat them that way!" as if chattel slavery were not a brutal, inhumane thing. Depicting slavery as anything less than what it was is an insult to me and my ancestors. It's an insult to me as a black woman because I have to live with the repercussions of it, and it's an insult to my ancestors because they had to endure being treated like beasts.

I'm not saying that every slave film needs to show graphic depictions of black people being brutalized. The series Roots showed the true horrors of slavery without turning the pain of black Americans into rape p***. It was done well.

I'm also not saying that Gone with the Wind should be banned. In fact, I quite like watching it! I just want people to stop pretending and acknowledge it for what it is: a racist film.

Pork was often depicted as a simpleton and inferior who loved his masters like a sniveling child.
Pork was often depicted as a simpleton and inferior who loved his masters like a sniveling child. | Source

Apparently, Margaret Mitchell completely bought into the racist, delusional stories these older Southerners told her. But anyone who read Fredrick Douglas' work -- you know, a testament from an actual slave -- would know that black slaves were treated abhorrently.

In his autobiography, Douglas describes wearing a burlap sack for clothing, having no shoes, and eating out of a pig trough like a beast. The slaves were also given no beds or sheets and had to sleep on the ground, freezing every winter. If they complained, they were whipped -- sometimes to death. If they were smart, they were killed.

In other words, slaves had to pretend to be stupid, and they had to pretend to enjoy slavery or else they would be killed. Down through the generations, white slaveowners were raised believing that slaves were dumb, childlike inferiors who were better off slaves -- who even enjoyed it. In other words, these slaveowners eventually believed the act.

People will believe anything if it absolves them of wrongdoing.


One thing I love about Anne Rice's book The Feast of All Saints is that she doesn't depict the African slaves as jolly sycophants who worship white people, are stupid, and enjoy being whipped, raped, killed, and sold away from their families. Quite the contrary -- Anne Rice showed the slaves as intelligent and resourceful survivors who pretended to happily serve while sneering behind their masters' backs.

Rice had a better (see: non-racist) grasp of the realities of slavery, but then . . . she wasn't raised by delusional old racists the way Mitchell was.

Hattie McDaniel wasn't even allowed to read her own speech at the award ceremony.
Hattie McDaniel wasn't even allowed to read her own speech at the award ceremony. | Source

For us to acknowledge the true evils of slavery, however, we have to acknowledge that it was wrong. Chattel slavery is not the same as the indentured servitude happening in Africa -- and I'm saying this for the racists who love making false equivalences in order to absolve their ancestors of guilt, vilify my ancestors, and justify slavery.

Yeah. Because good, upstanding people justify slavery.

If you come on this article trying to defend Gone with the Wind as "not racist," I know everything I need to know about you.


So with all that being said -- Yes, Gone with the Wind was racist.

I can fully acknowledge that, even though I love the book and own the film on DVD. Regardless of the unfortunate influences Mitchell had as a girl, the story is highly entertaining. Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler lead a fascinating, whirlwind romance that is hilarious, heartwarming, tragic -- and also based on Mitchell's real-life romance between two different men.

Scarlett and Rhett themselves are fascinating characters. There's nothing wrong with indulging in that. But can we please stop throwing tantrums every time someone mentions that the film is racist? It is.

It is also possible to honestly criticize the things we love and still enjoy them. This film hurts black people because of the nonsense it reinforces, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it in the privacy of our own homes.

If Hollywood had any decency, they would not re-release this film to the masses, teaching another entire generation that black people "liked" being slaves and "enjoyed" serving their masters. But Hollywood is literally built on peodphilia, sex trafficking, and Satanism so . . . I'm not surprised they want to push a film that alters people's subconscious to see my entire race as inferior.

It's okay to look at this film so long as you can recognize it for what it is and not walk away harboring racist beliefs. Sadly, most people just can't do that. And that's why people are outraged about the re-release of the film. We are not yet at a place where people are smart enough to think critically about the media they consume, let alone not throw tantrums when others do.


To be honest, I would rather watch Gone with the Wind than the other racist slave-era films that depict my people's pain and torture like some kind of rape p***. In that sense, I suppose you could say Gone with the Wind was the lesser of two evils.

As much as I love it, Gone with the Wind is a racist film. That's the truth. And if you don't like it?

Well, my dear. I just don't give a damn.

Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
Watch this film in the privacy of your home like a decent human being.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Ash


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)