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Idris Elba makes passionate case against removing racist TV shows and movies

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As movies and television shows rethink their past material, opting to edit out scenes or remove episodes that depict offensive content, actor Idris Elba made a case against that form of censorship.

In a Tuesday interview with Radio Times, the Pacific Rim star said racist content should remain available to viewers in order to serve an educational purpose regarding offensive and outdated viewpoints.  The British actor also suggested including a warning to alert viewers beforehand.

“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” Elba maintained. “But the thing about freedom of speech is that it’s not suitable for everybody.”  To illustrate that, he pointed out to the rating system and how certain content is deemed suitable based on age, like PG and rated-R.

“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,” the Emmy-nominee furthered. “I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”

More importantly, Elba believes that erasing such content makes it impossible to learn from it.

“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,” he argued. “But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into.”

Several television shows, like The Golden GirlsScrubs30 Rock and several others publicly removed episodes containing blackface or other forms of racial insensitivity from their catalogue — something Elba says does not help anybody.

“I don’t believe in censorship,” The 47-year-old concluded.

By Megan Stone
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