Tina Fey and NBCUniversal have requested that four episodes of 30 Rock featuring actors wearing blackface be removed from syndication and streaming. Variety reports that some of the episodes have already been removed from Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, and Google Play, and will be removed from any and all platforms.
The requests and subsequent removals have been a result of several networks and creators reassessing their hosting and portrayals of racially insensitive content. Netflix and BBC One removed the sketch series Little Britain and Come Fly With Me due to main characters in each being performed by white men in black face. Following outcry on social media, Jimmy Fallon apologized for wearing blackface on Saturday Night Live. Recently, fellow late night host Jimmy Kimmel has also apologized for his use of blackface on The Man Show.
The episodes of 30 Rock that use blackface are as follows: “Believe in the Stars” (Season 3, Episode 2), “Christmas Attack Zone” (Season 5, Episode 10), “Live from Studio 6H” (Season 6, Episode 19), and “Live Show” (Season 5, Episode 4). Leading actress Jane Krakowski (National Lampoon’s Vacation) appeared in blackface in “Believe in the Stars” and “Christmas Attack Zone,” and guest star John Hamm (Baby Driver) used black face in “Live from Studio 6H”.
30 Rock lampooned the entertainment industry and business practices of NBC, and as such these episodes were meant to satirize the usage of blackface. The use in “Christmas Attack Zone” parodied a radio show called Amos N’ Andy, in which two white actors played black characters with stereotypical accents. Fey, who starred as the main character alongside writing and producing 30 Rock, amended this mind set. In a statement with Variety, Fey said “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. 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.”