With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, we've been getting a lot of big studios doing a lot of censorship when it comes to material that was considered tone-deaf or outright racist. Netflix had pulled episodes from Community and The Office, and Disney refuses to add Song of the South to its Disney+ library. While the internet debates on the merit of pulling these episodes, Idris Elba believes this shouldn't be the case.
Talking to Radio Times, Elba shares, "… 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 continues:
"Out of respect for the time and the movement, commissioners and archive-holders pulling things they think are exceptionally tone-deaf at this time — fair enough and good for you… But I think, 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."
If anything, the best route to go with these kinds of materials is to have disclaimers put on them. WB had been doing this with their older properties for a while now, and some applaud the move. I think one of the best lines in the disclaimer is, "these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."
Here's the full disclaimer:
We don't know when companies like Netflix will adopt this method, but speaking as a writer, I would definitely prefer they not try to ‘erase' history and do this kind of censorship. In any case, they even miss the point of a lot of the original messages of the shows. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons on Community was one of the best episodes tackling mental health and suicide, but it got cut because a character cosplaying a drow was deemed as blackface. A disclaimer would have been the better solution.
While the debate rages on about censorship, we're all just hoping that the BLM movement leads to real change and not just empty gestures by big studios.