Mark-Paul Gosselaar Says Racist Saved by the Bell Episode 'Would Never Get Made' Today
"We're much more sensitive now, for good reason, that those things would not happen today," the actor said
In an episode titled "Running Zack," students at the fictional Bayside High were tasked with giving presentations about their ancestry.
Gosselaar's character Zack Morris took the assignment as a joke and instead mocked Native American heritage, wearing war paint during his initial speech. For the second presentation, he wore a full stereotypical outfit that included war paint and a headdress.
"I cringed seeing myself portraying a white dude being Zack Morris, who is like the all-American, blond-haired white dude in an Indian Native American headdress," Gosselaar, 47, said of the racist depiction on Wednesday's episode of his Zack to the Future podcast.
He also admitted that he blocked the episode out of his mind, but came across it when he started the podcast, for which he has been rewatching Saved by the Bell episodes.
"This is one of those that I don't, I don't like remember putting on the headdress. I don't remember putting face paint on," the actor who is the star of the Saved by the Bell reboot said. "I don't remember standing in that awkward way that I was standing where my arms are folded and like a very stereotypical way."
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He continued, "But, again, there are protocols in place to and filters that, you know, like a director, standards and practices, people that I think ... we're much more sensitive now, for good reason, that those things would not happen today."
"This episode would never get made in current times, and rightly so," Gosselaar added.
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Last year while promoting his podcast, the actor admitted it's been "a little bit tortuous" to rewatch the episodes of the '90s sitcom."I am watching my work — and it doesn't matter that it's 30 years old, it's still something that I feel like I can improve," Gosselaar told Variety.