A wider range of censorship and self-censorship has actually been rolled out in the North American film and television circles in recent years, at the same time as “Gone with the Wind” was removed from the shelves, “Friends” creator Kaufman apologized for her “failure to fully promote racial diversity in the production of the show” and “Friends” was all white people; later, film and television dramas including the classic comedy “Golden Girl” were also criticized. Some episodes were removed because some lines were suspected of racial discrimination.
The Political Correctness in the Entertainment Industry
Today, this kind of “reformation” has become even crazier. The producer of “The Simpsons” issued a statement indicating that: “The Simpsons will no longer be dubbed by white actors for non-white characters.” In another animation, “Family guy,” Mike Henry, who has voiced the black character Cleveland Brown for more than 20 years, also said that he would no longer dub the character. (screenshot from Twitter)
It is foreseeable that after this battle, racial issues will become more sensitive in the American film and television industry represented by Hollywood. Not only some expressions that are not politically correct will become taboos in order to pursue “balance” and “equality.” Like the latest version of “The Little Mermaid,” African-American actors’ subversive roles may also become the norm. In this situation, people can’t help but wonder: if things go on like this, will “political correctness” become a shackle for Hollywood’s development?
If you look at it from an industry and business perspective, this concern is clearly superfluous. Although Hollywood (especially Disney) has been controversial over the years on subversive casting, the box office results have continued its success. Not to mention the money they earned from “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel.”
However, if we talk about art creation alone, this is completely different. Film and television as a kind of entertainment should be a reflection of social reality. The “extreme pursuit” of “correctness” will lead to a very rigid standard of artistic expression and creativity, and it will be stuck to a very limited scope. From a good point of view, this respects and considers the feelings of the minority and diversity of people. Still, at the same time, it also determines that this type of content will be destined to go to the mean or mediocre, obliterating more possibilities.
In 2018, Scarlett Johansson announced that she would team up with director Rupert Sanders to star in “Rub & Tug” as a transgender person. As a result, it sparked an outcry from American netizens; many people think a transgender actor should play the role. In the end, Scarlett had to resign “voluntarily” due to public pressure.
By citing these examples, I’m not saying that minority groups shouldn’t be on the screen, but I want to highlight one thing: this kind of one-size-fits-all “equality” is not a universal standard that should be pursued, and it is impossible to seek equality in the true sense. The disparity in pay between male and female actors still exists, with many comparable stature actresses being paid only one-fifth of what men are paid. The real inequality has not been solved by getting the content “correct”.
After the casting of “The Little Mermaid” came to light, people were criticizing: “If more representatives of race and skin color are needed, why can’t Disney create more black characters?” This is perhaps the crux of the problem than raging about why the Little Mermaid can’t be dark-skinned and rigid self-censorship in the entertainment industry.