Tina Fey along with her 30 Rock co-creator Robert Carlock and NBCUniversal have requested to remove four episodes of the comedy series because they feature the use of blackface.
Vulture first reported that the episodes were being removed from Hulu and Amazon Prime, and they weren’t available to purchase on iTunes or Google Play.
Fey addressed the episodes’ removal in a letter sent to streaming platforms and obtained by Variety.
Down the memory hole: Four episodes of 30 Rock featuring the use of blackface have been removed from streaming services, digital rental outlets and syndication at the request of Tina Fey, co-creator Robert Carlock and NBCUniversal; pictured in 2018
‘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,’ she wrote.
‘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,’ she concluded.
In addition to disappearing from streaming services and digital rental outlets, the offending episodes will no longer be broadcast on television.
Out of circulation: ‘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,’ she wrote in a letter to streamers; pictured with Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock
Two of the episodes, season three’s Believe In The Stars and season five’s Christmas Attack Zone, feature the character Jenna Maroney, played by Jane Krakowski, darkening her face.
In the former, she puts on blackface while her co-star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) lightens his skin and dresses as a woman to determine if white women or Black men face greater struggles in society.
In the latter episode, Jenna wore blackface to dress as former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, while her boyfriend (guest star Will Forte) dressed as Natalie Portman in a spoof of her film Black Swan.
Controversial: Two of the episodes, season three’s Believe In The Stars and season five’s Christmas Attack Zone, feature the character Jenna Maroney, played by Jane Krakowski, darkening her face
Also pulled from circulation was season five’s East Coast version of Live Show, as well as season six’s Live From Studio H.
In the latter episode, regular guest star Jon Hamm blackened his skin in a sketch critiquing the racist television series and radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy.
His character also spoofed the racist characterizations in Disney’s Song Of The South, which has long been out of circulation.
The removal of the episodes comes amid moves by companies and brands to appear anti-racist, following protests that erupted across the nation that were inspired by the police killing of George Floyd and numerous other Black men and women.
Amid the furor, Gone With The Wind was removed from the new streaming service HBO Max, though the film will return sometime in the future with additional warnings about its racist content and new discussions that provide context for the 1939 epic.
Critique: In a season six episode, regular guest star Jon Hamm blackened his skin in a sketch critiquing the racist television series and radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy; still from 30 Rock
Changing times: A 2010 episode featuring Krakowski in blackface was praised by journalist Touré, but the reception to Hamm’s 2012 episode was more mixed; publicity still from 30 Rock
Though Hollywood and its stars are trying to stamp out blackface depictions, 30 Rock’s uses of blackface received a mix of praise and criticism at the time.
In 2010, journalist and cultural critic Touré commended Christmas Attack Zone in Mediaite for ‘not using blackface as a simplistic visual way of turning a white person Black but as a complex tool that makes a multi-layered joke at the character’s expense.’
Journalist Jamil Smith was less forgiving of Hamm’s Amos ‘n’ Andy spoof in 2012.
‘And #30Rock has Jon Hamm in almost-kinda-yeah-actually-it’s-Blackface,’ he tweet disapprovingly at the time.
Temporarily gone: The move follows HBO Max taking Gone With The Wind (1939) off its service. The film will eventually return with warnings about racist content and new context