Following the launch of streaming platform Disney+ in late-2019, users soon discovered culturally insensitive cartoons from its archival section. Naturally, people were extremely upset by some of the content which sparked the company to add warning labels to its content. In response to the massive Black Live Matter movement which has swept the globe in recent months, studios, stations and streaming platforms have all gone on to delete specific content that relates to racism.
Look at #DisneyPlus letting the people know early that their old films were racist and culturally insensitive.
Accountability is key, and historical context is important. pic.twitter.com/JvHVYMxBsk
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) November 12, 2019
Episodes of 30 Rock, The Golden Girls, The Office and Scrubs have all seen episodes pulled, while a whole season of Community and the full series of Summer Heights High was wiped from Netflix due to concerns of blackface. In many ways, this decision to completely remove film and television is valid, but according Idris Elba, we shouldn’t be censoring this kind of content.
In a new interview with Radio Times, the ‘Luther’ actor has suggested updating insensitive material with a warning label or rating to ensure users understand what they are about to watch.
“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” Elba said. “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.”
Elba continued: “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.”
Disney+ has incorporated a similar disclaimer reading, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”