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No fan of censorship, Idris Elba thinks racist TV shows and movies should not be removed

2020-07-19

When it comes to racist content on film and television, Idris Elba doesn’t think it should be censored or removed.

The Golden Globe Award-winning actor thinks that racist content should remain available to viewers in order to serve as an educational tool regarding offensive and outdated viewpoints.

He also suggested including a warning to alert viewers beforehand.

“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” Elba said during a Radio Times interview this week. “But the thing about freedom of speech is that it’s not suitable for everybody.”

To illustrate his point, the British heartthrob also pointed to the rating system and how certain content is deemed suitable based on age, like PG and rated-R.

“That’s why we have a rating system: we tell you that this particular content is rated U, PG, 15, 18, X…I don’t know anything about X, by the way,” the 47-year-old “Luther” star joked.

“To mock the truth, you have to know the truth,” he continued. “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. I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”

Upon its launch, HBO’s streaming service, HBO Max, caused controversy when it removed the Hollywood classic “Gone with the Wind” from its roster of programming in May. It has since returned with an introduction explaining its historical context.

Since then, late night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel issued apologies for appearing in blackface as part of past comedy routines.

Additionally, episodes of several hit television series, such as “The Golden Girls,” “Scrubs,” and “30 Rock,” containing blackface or other forms of racial insensitivity were removed.

Elba believes moves like these do not help.

“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,” he offered.

“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,” Elba concluded.