HBO Max and Their Strange Streak of Censorship

HBO Max logo
Image courtesy of HBO.

You may have seen plenty of advertising lately for the fairly new streaming service, ‘HBO Max’, one of many streaming services flooding the market as television companies adapt to stream rather than broadcast.  

Recently, HBO Max has taken some moves in censoring or altering the content in their library, the two most notable would be taking down “Gone With the Wind” and, strangely enough, giving the “Looney Tunes” character Yosemite Sam a scythe instead of his classic revolvers and rifle.   

The first choice has its merits with re-educating people that racial stereotyping is wrong in this age where almost everyone is aware of that. A similar practice to this, (without removing, of course) was in the descriptions of older Disney Plus films, where there is a warning describing “outdated cultural depictions” into films such as “Dumbo” or “Peter Pan” for obvious reasons of racial stereotyping in their films.  

HBO Max put the film back onto their service, with two videos that extend this beyond what Disney Plus did, having two videos alongside it to describe how the film brushes past issues of slavery. One could more so call it a “thought-check” before you watch the movie, then censorship. Everyone in this modern age can agree that slavery was wrong, and that the aspects of fantasizing that such an ugly detail of the civil war is wrong, so why would there be videos pouring into that detail? Does watching it without that context immediately make the viewer a victim of propaganda, or the streaming service racist?   

Something that does not make sense to me though, is the exclusion of guns in the new “Looney Tunes” animation, exclusive to HBO Max. This could turn into a debate on media and mental health, or if violence is good to have on television, but it feels like this was more of a precautionary decision for backlash. Considering the issue of gun violence within the U.S., I would not be surprised if this kicked off the decision to axe cartoony lead-spitters. No one cares about the guns in “Fortnite” or any movie that Dwayne Johnson is in, so what gives? Feel free to give your input in the comments.  

Image courtesy of HBO

Categories: Editorials, Opinion