Actor Idris Elba has kicked against the removal of racist contents on film and television. In the heat of the racial awakening that hit the United States sparked by anti-racism protests after the grisly murder of George Floyd, many networks and streaming services pulled down contents with racist undertones.
Shows including Scrubs, 30 Rock and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia pulled episodes with characters wearing blackface as laden with racism.
HBOMax also removed Gone With The Wind from its platform over the film’s racist depictions of Black characters only to be restored to its streaming service late June with a disclaimer.
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Speaking to Radio Times during an interview published Tuesday, Elba argued that removing or censoring such contents was not the answer to ending racism.
“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,” Elba said.
“But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into,” he added. “I don’t believe in censorship.”
Instead, the 47-year-old Golden Globe Award-winning British actor suggested that a warning to alert viewers beforehand should accompany the contents.
“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.”
The Black Lives Matter movement and protests reignited after the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who lost his life after Minnesota cop, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, despite pleading he could not breathe.
Floyd’s death sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.