Many actors, comedians, and late night show hosts have been called out over the past week for using blackface in their past performances. Streaming services removed episodes of 30 Rock that featured blackface, Little Britain has been removed from streaming services altogether, and both Jimmys (Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel) have been publicly scolded for using blackface in their past comedy routines. Scrubs is the latest show to join this ever-growing list of #canceled programming.
Scrubs aired for a total of 9 seasons over 2001-2010, and featured 3 episodes where characters don blackface. Fans of the beloved Scrubs took to social media to petition Scrubs creator, Bill Lawrence, to remove the 3 blackface episodes after Tina Fey had requested the 30 Rock blackface episodes to be removed.
The media industry is finally being held accountable for using deeply problematic blackface depictions in film and TV, but it looks like they’ve only scratched the surface. Which actor, comedian, or show will be next? It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has an episode where one of the characters used blackface, while comedian Sarah Silverman and actor Ted Danson have also performed in blackface in the past.
Even Robert Downey Jr. used blackface in the 2008 comedy/action film Tropic Thunder. While Robert Downey Jr.’s role in Tropic Thunder was a deeply satirical portrayal of the history of white actors using blackface with Hollywood approval, some social media users still find this role to be problematic and offensive.
How much responsibility do you think actors themselves shoulder, versus the studio, writers, and directors who were immediately involved? Share your thoughts in the comments below.