Fey apologized for the episodes and the “pain they have caused,” according to a letter Fey wrote to broadcast services.
The letter was first obtained by Vulture and confirmed to CNN through NBCUniversal and Fey’s agent.
“As we strive to get the job done and improve when it comes to race in America, we believe that these episodes with actors with makeup that changes race are taken out of circulation,” he said. “Now I understand that the intention is not a free pass for whites to use these images.”
The episodes to be released include Season 3, Episode 2; Season 5, Episode 4; Season 5, Episode 10 and Season 6, Episode 19, according to NBCUniversal. Two of them feature Jane Krakowski, who is white, with a black face, and Jon Hamm appears as a black face in another, Vulture reported. Some of them have been pulled from Hulu and Amazon, and some of the episodes are still available for purchase on YouTube as of Tuesday.
CNN has reached out to representatives of Krakowski and Hamm for comment and is waiting for a response.
“In the future, no kid who loves comedy needs to trip over these tropes and be stung for their ugliness,” Fey said. “I thank NBCUniversal for complying with this request.”
“30 Rock”, which ran from 2006 to 2013, was critically praised throughout his career and garnered 103 Emmy nominations, earning 16. But even during his career and after he hit streaming services, the show He was accused of perpetuating stereotypes, particularly through characters like Tracy Jordan, played by black comedian Tracy Morgan.
Fey’s recent effort on Netflix, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” was criticized for playing Krakowski, who is White, as a Native American character who occasionally appeared as a brown face.
“30 Rock” is slated to air on NBC’s upcoming Peacock streaming service.
Blackface in contemporary comedy
Blackface originated from troubadour shows in the mid-19th century, when white actors painted their faces with bitumen or burned cork to perform caricatures of African-Americans, generally for the entertainment of a white audience.
But the old racist tradition remains a controversial part of contemporary comedy. Jimmy Fallon’s portrayal of Chris Rock’s black face on “Saturday Night Live” in 2000 made the rounds again earlier this year, while Jimmy Kimmel’s black-faced impression of NBA player Karl Malone resurfaced the year. past.
Entering the “30 Rock” speech on Twitter, film critic and writer Karina Longworth tweeted an excerpt from “Birth of an Industry,” a historical analysis of the black face in entertainment using “30 Rock” as an example.
In it, Nicholas Sammond, the film scholar who wrote the analysis, said the election of a black president “somehow generated permission for media producers to more freely express racist stereotypes and sentiments under the saying that a recognition Direct from racism also provides its ironic absolution. ”
In other words, the use of the black face to deceive racism generally ends up being racist as well.
“30 Rock” is just the latest piece of celebrity entertainment that has come under renewed scrutiny as the United States recognizes racism in art, among other things.
HBO Max removed “Gone with the Wind” from its service until it could be relaunched with a “historical context” about the film’s depiction of slaves and the Southern Civil War. (HBO, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.) Netflix recently released several British comedy series for repeatedly featuring white characters on black faces.