In recent weeks, “Gone With The Wind” and episodes of “Mad Men”, “Scrubs”, “30 Rock”, “The Golden Girls”, and “The Office”, among others, have been pulled from streaming sites for racist depictions and blackface. But, in a new interview with Radio Times, Idris Elba says films and TV shows like these shouldn’t be erased, just updated with a warning label.
“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” Elba says, “But the thing about freedom of speech is that it’s not suitable for everybody. That’s why we have a rating system. We tell you that this particular content is rated U, PG, 15, 18.”
“To mock the truth, you have to know the truth. But to censor racist themes within a show, to pull it — wait a second, I think viewers should know that people made shows like this,” he adds.
Elba says that moving forward, “People should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into. I don’t believe in censorship. I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”
“Gone With The Wind” and “Mad Men” are among the works that were removed and are being re-released with a warning label to provide historical context for the now-offensive content. The title card that precedes the “Mad Men” episode on streaming sites now reads:
“This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America. One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963. In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety.”