Golden Girls Face Backlash For Pulling ‘Blackface’ Episode From Hulu
Following Hulu’s decision to remove an episode of The Golden Girls – which features a ‘blackface’ gag – concern has emerged over the ‘trivialisation’ of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The ‘Mixed Blessings’ episode of the classic US sitcom, which ran from 1985 to 1992, was pulled from the streaming service at the request of Disney-ABC Domestic Television, hot on the heels of other major erasures in Scrubs, Little Britain and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
However, the move has sparked concern among commentators online, as studios continue to equate activism to removing problematic aspects of entertainment rather than actually discussing them.
You can watch The Golden Girls clip below:
The episode follows Michael (Scott Jacoby), the son of Dorothy (Beatrice Author), who plans to marry Lorraine (Rosalind Cash), an older Black woman. While Dorothy disagrees with their age difference, Lorraine’s family opposes her tying the knot with a White man, so the two families bid to stop the wedding.
When Lorraine arrives at the home, Rose (Betty White) and Blanche (Rue McClanahan) are trying out a new mud face mask. ‘This is mud on our faces, we’re not really Black,’ they tell the family.
Its removal has been met with derision, with one user tweeting:
Brands removing their problematic episodes feels like a way of equating Black Lives Matter with ‘cancel culture’ to de-legitimise the movement and court outrage. I haven’t seen one placard in these marches saying ‘REMOVE EPISODE 323 OF THE GOLDEN GIRLS FROM HULU’.
A further user agreed, writing: ‘Yeah, these companies and media platforms are trivialising the situation by sending the message that our demand for justice is as petty as removing episodes of The Golden Girls off a streaming platform. This is a calculated effort to cheapen our message.’
Erica Williams Simon added:
First of all, they were in mud masks not blackface. And second of all, in what world does ‘Stop killing us’ sound like ‘Please remove episodes of Golden Girls’? I didn’t see that ask on anyone’s protest sign…
There’s been a great purge across a number of significant TV shows: Tina Fey requested that episodes of 30 Rock featuring blackface be removed; the ‘Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ episode of Community was removed due to Ken Jeong wearing blackface; and a scene from the ‘Dwight Christmas’ episode of The Office has been edited out due to a character in blackface.
The latter show’s creator Greg Daniels, said, via Variety:
The show employed satire to expose unacceptable behaviour and deliver a message of inclusion. Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticise a specific racist European practice. Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused.
Simply erasing potentially troubling moments of a show’s tenure belittles what the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to achieve. Deleting moments and episodes won’t secure equality; if anything, it’s actually preventing a chance to step closer.
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