While humor has always been a way for humans to surmount their differences, getting around difficult topics with a you-laugh-at-me-I-laugh-at-you approach, big entertainment companies are now opting instead for bans or censorship of anything they fear might get traction on social media.
A recent example is Hulu’s removal of an episode of The Golden Girls that had – gasp – a blackface scene, reports Vulture.
Per THR, the episode “Mixed Feelings” from Season 3 was taken down due to the characters Rose, played by Betty White, and Blanche, played by Rue McClanahan, putting on mud masks as a beauty treatment. The offending scene follows an announcement from the son of Dorothy (Bea Arthur) about his intention to marry an older black woman, which Dorothy opposes because of the age gap.
When the woman visits their home, Rose tries breaking the tension by quipping: “this is mud on our faces, we’re not really Black.”
Hulu has not clarified if the episode will ever be made available again.
Sitcoms such as Community, 30 Rock, and Scrubs have seen their episodes purged from streaming services over the use of blackface. In the case of 30 Rock, the removal of four episodes came at the specific request of star Tina Fey, who stated that “no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness.” The Scrubs and Community blackface episodes, on the other hand, were pulled by the streaming services without creator input.