• "People should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into.” (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
“To mock the truth, you have to know the truth."
SBS staff writers

16 Jul 2020 - 2:40 PM  UPDATED 16 Jul 2020 - 2:48 PM

Actor and former 'Sexiest Man in the World' Idris Elba has weighed in on debate surrounding the removal of racist movies and TV shows from streaming platforms, suggesting a racism 'rating system' instead. 

The comments came after shows including The Mighty Boosh, The League of Gentlemen, and Chris Lilley's Summer Heights High were removed from streaming giant Netflix over the inclusion of blackface. 

Speaking to the Radio Times, Elba said that he believes it's important for the film and television industry's racism not to be hidden if the industry - and society at large - is to learn from the past.

“That’s why we have a rating system: We tell you that this particular content is rated U, PG, 15, 18,” he said.

“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.”

He continued: “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.”

Some commentators on social media appeared to applaud the British star's assertion.

"I agree," one Twitter user wrote.

"Trying to remove the racist history does nothing to dismantle the racist systems in place."

Another wrote: "I completely agree with Idris Elba on this. While racist content is very bad, we can’t just get rid of it because of sensitivity.

"We have to remember that shit like that have happened and forgetting about it and pretending it never existed won’t help anyone."


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