Removing insensitive entertainment from streaming platforms isn’t the effective anti-racism tool it seems

Editorial: Few films or TV shows, past or present, need to be banned. Despite some of the faux outrage about censorship, none are being extirpated in some new battle in the culture wars of our times

Wednesday 10 June 2020 19:50 BST

Not so many years ago, Gordon Brown, then British prime minister, paid a visit to the White House. As is customary, Barack Obama, then US president, presented Mr Brown with a thoughtful gift a box set of great American movies. Included was a DVD of the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind, alongside Citizen Kane, Psycho, Star Wars: Episode IV and others. The inclusion of Gone with the Wind raised no comment. Yesterday, HBO Max removed the title from its streaming service because the film’s portrait of the antebellum south contains “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and wrong today”.

In a parallel but less momentous sort of move, the BBC has also withdrawn its one-time hugely popular Little Britain series from its various platforms. Again, the reason is that the show is out of its time, in this case with sketches poking fun too uncomfortably.

In other words, times change, and, in truth, there is nothing so strange or censorious about these and other similar moves coming as they do on a wave of unrest over racial injustice.

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