“Luther” star Idris Elba says instead of removing racist content from movies and TV shows, a rating system should be introduced to warn viewers about what they are getting into.
Many networks and streamers have pulled out episodes featuring black face or containing racist jokes as companies reassess content in the wake of protests over police brutality and systemic racism after the death of George Floyd.
Speaking to the Radio Times magazine for this week’s issue, the Emmy-winning actor spoke about the removal of episodes that contain offensive jokes from streaming platforms.
“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech. 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, X,” he told the publication.
Elba said a rating system can alert viewers to racist jokes, viewpoints and themes within a show.
“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.
"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," the actor said.
The British star said as a storyteller, he does not believe in censoring content.
“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.
Elba’s comments come in the wake of networks removing shows and films containing racist viewpoints.
NBC Universal had removed four episodes of satirical show “30 Rock” for featuring characters in black. Similarly, episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “Peep Show” were also removed from streaming platforms.
But some platforms decided to contexualise past content by putting up a disclaimer.
WarnerMedia put up a disclaimer about the historical context of “Gone With the Wind”, a 1939 classic, that has been called out for glossing over the horrors of slavery.
A disclaimer was also added for one of the episodes of “Mad Men”, a 1960s drama set in the world of advertising, as one of its episodes shows a character a in