The death of African-American George Floyd, drowned under the yoke of a policeman in the United States, and subsequent protests by the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter have suddenly changed the eyes with which the television industry looks at itself. In a succession of announcements, Gone with the Wind has temporarily disappeared from the HBO Max platform in recent days following the publication in the Los Angeles Times of a gallery against the classic, written by John Ridley, 12-year-old screenwriter slavery; The British cult series Little Britain, where a character painted his face black, has been removed from Netflix (in those countries where he had it) and the BBC online player; an actor from the series The Flash has been fired for tweeting racist (and macho and transphobic) jokes ten years ago; and the Cops program, which featured clashes between the American police and criminals who were often black, has been canceled after 31 years.
In the US, many of the streaming content chains and platforms have been quick to show their support for the black community and the protests after Floyd’s death. Many have collected all series, films and documentaries on racial injustice into collections. And some are checking their coffers to remove or blur controversial traces. In a column titled Gone With the Wind romanticizes the horrors of slavery. Take it off your platform for now, screenwriter and producer John Ridley, who won the 2014 Oscar for 12 years of slavery, on Tuesday criticized the film’s presence on HBO Max for being a film that “when it doesn’t ignore the horrors of slavery He pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color. » « It romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to legitimize the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, better, nobler than it was: a bloody insurrection to uphold the ‘right’ to own, sell, and buy human beings, » Ridley wrote.
In Warner, the owner of HBO and the film, they took note and the next day they removed it from their platform, with the promise of re-uploading it as it was originally created, but with a notice and a debate about its historical context, the same As he already took the company on with some of the old Looney Tunes cartoons on his reruns. « The movie [de 1939] it is a product of its time and reflects some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have been, unfortunately, common in American society. These racist portraits were wrong then and still are today, and we feel that keeping this work unexplained and denounced would be irresponsible. […] To act in another way would be to maintain that these prejudices never existed, « said an HBO Max spokesperson.
“In the case of a movie, a book, or other cultural manifestations, a resignification is more intelligent than gross censorship or withdrawal at the wrong time. If you emit Gone with the Wind with a fragment before a historian or an expert on the subject to give context, it is much more useful than simply saying that its emission is removed for its manifest glorification of slavery, « he comments to EL PAÍS the critic and professor of Cinema Mirito Torreiro. « By that rule of three, a student would never see The Birth of a Nation , which is a key film in the shaping of a certain cinematographic language and in its advance, in which blacks are painted whites and, indeed, there is a glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. Gone with the wind, The birth of a nation, or so many others, or entire genres, such as the minstrel [actuaciones con cantantes blancos con la cara pintada de negro], which is nothing more than a mockery of black culture, they were there and have continued to be there, and it is good that they know and take responsibility for that, « Torreiro concludes.
« Times have changed, » a BBC spokesman has said of the Little Britain (2003-2008) pullout, created by David Walliams and Matt Lucas. In this comedy, both comedians, white, played different characters, some of them from other ethnic groups, and for this they painted their skin. Back in 2017, both Lucas and Walliams admitted being aware of the mistake. « If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn’t make those jokes about transvestites. I would not play black characters. Basically, I wouldn’t do that series today. It would upset people. So we used to do a more cruel kind of comedy than I do now, « Lucas said then. Another of his series, Come Fly With Me, has also been removed from Netflix for containing similar gags.
Another case is that of ViacomCBS, which has decided not to renew one of the greatest classics of American television in the last 30 years, Cops, a documentary series that follows police patrols in action, and which has been criticized at times for stereotyping profiles of criminals. The premiere of its season 33 was scheduled for last Monday, but the group decided not to do so so that it did not coincide with the protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. For his part, on the youth network The CW, actor Hartley Sawyer has been fired this week from the series The Flash, in which he played a superhero, as a series of racist and misogynistic messages came up on Twitter. between the years 2012 and 2014.
Last Sunday, during a virtual conference, the co-creator of Friends (1994-2004) admitted that in her series racial representation was not treated as it should, both in front of the camera and behind. The six protagonists of the series are white and there is no main or habitual character of another race, only secondary. “I wish then I had known everything I know now. I would make very different decisions. We have always supported diversity in our company, but I did not do enough. Now all I can think about is, ‘What can I do? What can I change?’ And that is something that I not only wish I had known when I started taking series, but that I wish I had always known until recently, ”said Kauffman.