At such a juncture, when the death of George Floyd in police custody has sparked outrage and conversations about race, Netflix and other streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and BritBox have expressed concerns over blackface characters. Series such as Little Britain, one of the UK’s most popular comedies of the mid-2000s, has been pulled from streaming platforms as a precautionary measure due to the ongoing protests and riots that have now reached the UK.
While Netflix was the one to drop Little Britain from its platform first, BBC and BritBox soon jumped on the bandwagon. They said that the “times have changed” compared to the times when the show was first aired. The show ended in 2007.
It is worth noting that Little Britain sometimes featured characters that use makeup to represent people of different ethnicities, including Blacks.
Bo’Selecta, a show which originally aired a decade ago and had been available on streaming platforms such as All 4, has now also been taken down. The maker of the show, Leigh Francis recently issued an apology.
The show mainly involves the impersonation of several Brit and American celebrities, including Blacks. It was an adult humor show that ran for five seasons, ending in 2009.
Netflix’s decision to take down shows in the wake of the protests did not seem to sit well with some of the platform’s subscribers. Notable criticism comes from the former MEP and journalist Daniel Hannan.
“There is an unbearable smugness in rushing to condemn Ali G, Bo’ Selecta or other shows that were fine until the day before yesterday. As if to say, ‘You all thought this was fine, but look – I’m more sensitive than you’. Hmmm. Maybe you’re just more priggish,” wrote Hannan.
Netflix’s decision has followed calls for shows and entertainment that was popular in the not-too-distant past to be removed from streaming services due to what is now seen by some as racist, as shows of the past are increasingly being judged by the more priggish standards of today’s culture.
Unlike with books, that often remain uncensored and treated as simply a historical record, TV shows and movies for some reason don’t get spared. It’s not uncommon for scenes in TV shows and movies to be censored to appears the tastes of the modern audience.