Tina Fey's Race Issues Stretch Beyond '30 Rock's Blackface Eps
Tina Fey is to many a progressive icon, but that hasn't shielded her from criticism after asking NBC to pull episodes of her signature hit show, 30 Rock which features blackface. Said Fey in a letter to streaming services:
"As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation. I understand now that 'intent' is not a free pass for white people to use these images. 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 thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request."
On the surface, it seems like an appropriate move, but as many are pointing out online, four episodes featuring blackface are hardly the only instances of racism or "race-changing makeup" as Fey put it, within her works.
This is only the tip of the iceberg and that iceberg in Fey's work is probably in yellowface with a geisha outfit. But the question remains then as to what Fey should have done. Some are suggesting that she just keep the episodes and affix some type of disclaimer to them like they did for Tom and Jerry. (I have no recollection of Tom and Jerry, but I think it's safe to assume you can put a warning label on pretty much anything before 1992 and feel better about it.)
If Tina Fey removes those four episodes, then what is to be said about all the episodes she doesn't remove which also feature appropriation? It's a hard question to answer, but Tina Fey is probably better off trying because for many people this is just her running from the problem she appears to repeatedly create.
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Top Image: NBCUniversal Television