Idris Elba says that old shows and movies should have warnings instead of being censored or removed. When Gone With the Wind was removed from HBO Max momentarily, it set off a giant conversation about censoring content. Now, the established star talked about his solution to the problem with Radio Times. In Elba's estimation, acknowledging the need for a discussion around harmful and sometimes racist content is necessary. But, he's looking to rating systems as a possible solution. How that would differ in any real way from the disclaimers that exist on Warner Media's own service or Disney+ remain to be seen. As more episodes are pulled off of streaming services, the conversation will continue to be revisited over and over again. However, there will probably be a standardized response as more companies have to confront their histories.
"I'm very much a believer in freedom of speech," the actor said. "But the thing about freedom of speech is that it's not suitable for everybody."
Elba continued, "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."
"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… I don't believe in censorship," he added. "I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we're story-makers."
In essence, the burden is on the platform holder to educate the audience, explain why the content was wrongheaded to begin with, and prompt viewers to explore why such choices are being corrected now. As seen in the Gone With the Wind situation, the movie returned with the disclaimer, and the conversation instantly became more reasoned. In the weeks since, there have been multiple episodes of popular series that were pulled entirely off of streaming platforms with no word on what the fixes will be. There will always be people who believe that none of this should change at all, but more and more works will be held up to the light in the aftermath of this summer's protests against racism and prejudice of all stripes.
What do you think of Elba's idea here? Let us know in the comments!