Netflix has removed comedy series ‘The Mighty Boosh’ and ‘The League of Gentlemen’ from its platform, citing their use of blackface. Critics have labeled the move an “arbitrary gesture” that does little to address actual racism.
‘The Mighty Boosh’ features several characters that are supposed to be black in the show, but are played by white actors. This fact has for a long time been seen as a controversy.
‘The League of Gentlemen’ features the character of Papa Lazarou, who is openly based on the creators’ landlord, a real-life black person. Once again, he has been played by a white actor, drawing the ire of the detractors of such comedic practices.
The removal comes after all major British video-streaming services collectively took down the show ‘Little Britain’ and its follow-up ‘Come Fly With Me’ for similar reasons amid the sweeping Black Lives Matter protests, triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in the US.
While the decision is sure to be praised by social media activists, not everyone has agreed it had merit, including some actors who criticised it as apparent tokenism.
Stand-up comedian Jack Carroll called the removal of the ‘League of Gentlemen’ “an arbitrary gesture,” arguing that the only purpose of it was to give the company leeway to not “put any real work into combating actual instances of racial discrimination.”
Netflix has indeed followed suit after similar corporate actions, motivated by the ongoing racial justice protests.
Popular American reality TV show ‘Cops’ has been dropped by its network, due to allegations of normalizing police brutality. ‘Live PD,’ another reality show of the same kind, has been temporarily pulled off the air. Scripted TV-series ‘LA’s Finest’ has been put on hiatus.
Perhaps the most noteworthy example came in the form of HBO Max deleting ‘Gone with the Wind’ from its library. The 1939 US Civil War drama is widely considered a cinema classic and its takedown has left many baffled.
It is hard to guess what content, if any, is next in line to be “canceled,” and the anti-racism protests don’t yet show a sign of stopping. Nor is it certain that the removed materials will ever make a comeback. HBO has already confirmed it would return ‘Gone with the Wind’ to its library, albeit at an unspecified date.
However, there is a catch. As HBO Max spokesperson put it, the film will be returning “with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions” of America’s racist past that it said “were wrong then and are wrong today.” While HBO promised to keep the movie itself untouched, the form that this “denouncement” might take is anyone’s guess.