Netflix Edits Blackface Scene Out of The Office, Pulls Community Episode
"Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful an wrong," The Office's creator Greg Daniels said
A scene showing blackface has been edited out of The Office and will no longer appear on Netflix or in syndication.
The decision — which comes after shows like 30 Rock and Scrubs have re-evaluated episodes featuring blackface — was confirmed by the show's creator Greg Daniels, who said in a statement to Variety that "blackface is unacceptable."
"The Office is about a group of people trying to work together with mutual respect despite the inappropriate actions of their boss and assistant manager," Daniels said. "The show employed satire to expose unacceptable behavior and deliver a message of inclusion. Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticize a specific racist European practice."
"Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused," he added.
The scene in question is from the 2012 episode "Dwight Christmas" in which Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) tries to get his coworkers at Dunder Mifflin to celebrate a Dutch Christmas in Pennsylvania.
Dwight shows up to work dressed up as the German Santa Claus, Belsnickel. Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) then looks up the tradition and learns that Belsnickel has a partner named Zwarte Piet, who is a slave boy. The boy is often portrayed using blackface, Oscar shares on the episode. Once Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) — one of the only black employees — hears of the offensive costume, he tells Dwight, "No," though viewers briefly see Dwight's assistant walking through the office parking lot in blackface before the stunt gets called off.
Variety also reported that Netflix and Hulu have pulled an episode of Community called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons," which shows actor Ken Jeong's character in blackface, portraying a "dark elf."
"We support the decision to remove the episode," a spokesperson for Sony Pictures Television told Variety.
Reps for Netflix and Sony Pictures Television did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Last week, Hulu removed three episodes of Scrubs that feature some of the show's characters in blackface, following a request by the show's creator Bill Lawrence and ABC Studios, Variety reported.
Lawrence revealed to fans on Twitter on Tuesday that he would be taking action on the matter after viewers expressed their desire to have the episodes pulled from streaming platforms and syndication.
NBC has also requested that blackface episodes of 30 Rock be removed from streaming services. Creator and star Tina Fey apologized for "ugliness" last week, asking that streaming platforms remove four episodes that feature characters in blackface. The message was co-signed by collaborator Robert Carlock as well as the show's home network, NBC.
"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," read the memo, obtained by Variety. "I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused."