Four 30 Rock Episodes Being Scrubbed from Internet

I know there are some 30 Rock fans here like myself. If you’re a fan of the show, and in particular of episodes that make fun of racism (including that inspired Tracy Morgan/Jon Hamm bit mocking Amos and Andy), you may want to secure backups because we’ve reached that “snake eating its own tail” point where making fun of racism is perceived as racist. Four episodes of the show are being removed from all streaming services, from TV reruns, and will no longer be offered for sale, namely:

  1. Believe In the Stars (The one with Oprah - as part of a feud over who has it harder Jenna dresses up as a black man and Tracy dresses up as a white woman)

  2. Christmas Attack Zone (The one where Jack ambushes his mom with his real dad - the issue is Paul and Jenna’s party costume which includes blackface)

  3. The east coast version of the season 5 live episode (there’s a gag in a “commercial” involving John Hamm with a transplanted black hand, and I guess that’s the problem?)

  4. Both versions of the season six live episode (includes the aforementioned Amos and Andy parody)

Mind you, they’re not editing, just erasing the whole episodes from existence. It might be time to grab a DVD set if you care.

That seems… wrong. Like a really bad idea. Are they being “proactive” (and I use that term loosely here) or were those episodes under fire and this is a response? Full disclosure, I didn’t read the link you provided.

EDIT: In a fun twist, I went to Twitter just now and Tina Fey requesting these episodes be removed due them containing black face is trending.

The article is not clear on that point, and I haven’t investigated further. I’m less interested in the “why” and more interested in making sure anyone that cares is aware of the retroactive edit - I detest this kind of thing no matter the justification. Provide context, by all means, but pretending things didn’t happen doesn’t strike me as productive.

Anyway, here’s what the article says about the why:

This is coming at the specific request of series creator Tina Fey and executive producer Robert Carlock, with Fey writing in a statement to the various platforms that host 30 Rock that “’intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images” and that she’s sorry for “pain they have caused.”

Yeah, Tina Fey herself requested it.

30 Rock creator Tina Fey, and the show’s owner NBCUniversal, asked that four episodes of the comedy be pulled from streaming and syndication. In a note obtained by Variety, Fey said: "I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness.

I guess in the end if Fey wanted them gone, I can’t really complain it’s happening. I’ll trust her judgement.

On a related note, this is why I like physical media so much. No one can come along and retroactively futz with it 10 years later.

I googled “30 Rock Blackface” and the images are everywhere. Hopefully by deleting the episodes from the internet the news media will follow suit in their stories.

I suspect we’ll see a rather substantial Streisand effect, really. You can’t ever really delete anything from the internet, and trying is generally the most effective way to spread it around.

Nuke’em from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

Fuck. Yes. fist bump

Deep Discount DVD has the entire series on Blu-ray for under $60.

Nice! That would be a spectacular deal for a fantastic series under any circumstances.

Tina Fey has definitely had some issues with listening to criticism in the past, so it’s nice to see that she seems to have reflected a bit and is learning now. Better late than never.

Because bowl-cutted inbred mass murderer Dylann Roof had a Confederate pin on his jacket during his massacre, there was finally some real impetus afterward behind changing some state flags. But I remember seeing that Dukes of Hazzard re-runs were pulled from a nostalgia station because the General Lee had the flag on its roof, and they stopped selling toy General Lees. That’s no loss to humanity — other than James Best and Sorrel Booke that show fucking sucked, and I was pretty surprised that there was still any kind of market for General Lees.

But it shows that there’s no room for tone or intent to be considered when these things happen, simply because so so so many people are completely incapable or perceiving them, and not just stupid people either. (I seem to recall a few instances on this very board where people with perfectly fine cerebral intelligence proved to be delightfully deaf to tone and thus vulnerable to being pranked, hee hee hee hee.)

And heaven knows that in our present age disingenuous whatabout people will seize any exceptions as a counter-argument. “Oh, it’s OK when black comedians do blackface, when when whites do it it’s suddenly somehow racist! Whites are the most discriminated-against group in history!” Common as shit on all social media these days.

That’s tempting, but at the same time, I’ve already watched 30 Rock, and it didn’t seem like the type of show I would watch again unless new shows suddenly start being really poor. Now, granted, that might actually happen, but even then I think I would be fine with streaming the rest of the show without these four episodes. I’m just thinking that in the grand big picture that is 30 Rock, this is barely just a blip that I’m unlikely to notice if someone hadn’t told me.

This is really sad. It’s a comedy show, and a progressive one at that. There’s no way those things would be taken at face value.

Maybe I should get around to watching Tropic Thunder before it’s gone too…

Shit, good point. I think I have that one on DVD but I suppose I’d better make sure.

At the start of the 20th century, minstrelcy was so ingrained in American entertainment that even African-American artists like the great Bert Williams had to appear in blackface.

This is off-topic so I’ll give the abbreviated version of my defense of Amos 'n Andy. This applies strictly to the TV show, not the radio or movie versions, both done in blackface.

Not only did the TV version feature many talented veterans of African American theater and films (Spencer Williams, who played Andy, was a respected director, and Tim Moore, Kingfish, was a big star on the chitlin’ circuit), it was the only place on television you could find Black authority figures like lawyers, police, and judges. Yes, Kingfish was a bit of a buffoon, but so were most male comedy figures on TV at the time. He was no more lazy/clownish than Chester Riley or Ralph Kramden.

Plus the show was funny as hell.

This is sad. We can’t have anything nice.

This makes me sad but it’s going to be decades before we start allowing this stuff again. There’s not much to do in the meantime but turn into a digital packrat (or keep being one, if you are one.)