Tina Fey Pulls ’30 Rock’ Episodes Featuring Blackface From Streaming – ‘I Understand Now that Intent Is Not a Free Pass’

Comedy writer and actress Tina Fey announced today that she has asked NBCUniversal to pull from streaming any episodes of 30 Rock featuring actors dressed in blackface.

Reflecting the growing national discomfort with racial images and messages not in alignment with the direction of unity the culture is striving for, the former SNL star made the request saying she apologized “for pain they have caused.”

Tina Fey
Tina Fey | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Another NBC star recently apologized for using blackface in the past

Jimmy Fallon also issued an apology in June 2020 for his use of blackface in his comedy in the past.

The late-show host had used the offensively dark makeup in an SNL sketch two decades ago. He apologized before his remotely filmed show on June 1, 2020.

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“I had to really examine myself, really examine myself in the mirror this week, because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock in blackface. And I was horrified. . . what I kept getting advised was to just stay quiet and not say anything. And that’s the advice because we’re all afraid.”

Fallon, in his emotional apology continued, saying, “I took it for a minute, I took the advice. I thought, ‘God, I’m going to do this wrong and say something and get myself into even more trouble. I’m going to make this worse. I don’t know what to do.’ So I thought about it, and realized that I can’t not say, ‘I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed.’ “

Tina Fey’s request to NBCUniversal

Perhaps to stay ahead of a possible calling-out for the use of the objectionable makeup on 30 Rock, Fey made the announcement today that she has asked NBCUniversal to pull four episodes of the comedy series in which blackface was featured.

The episodes will be deleted from all streaming services including Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes and Google Play.

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The actress released a statement, obtained by Variety, announcing her request to NBCUniversal.

“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America,” she stated, “we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation. I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images.”

“I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”

Twitter’s reaction to Fey’s announcement

As well-intentioned as Fey’s actions and words were meant, Twitter users just told it like it is in their eyes. Most noticeably, fans pointed out how racially tinged Fey’s comedy writing is in the Netflix comedy she co-created, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

One Twitter user wrote, “Remember when Tina Fey kept getting s**t for writing racist stereotypes with no other personality traits into all of her work and said she would refuse to apologize and then wrote an episode of Unbreakable about how people are too sensitive about cultural representation?”

“So Tina Fey actually produced multiple racist episodes of a tv show,” tweeted another critic of Fey’s, “and everyone can just move on… but Roseanne Barr gets her entire career taken away because of 1 tweet that she deleted & apologized for.”

Finally, another tweet said, “Ok time to scour the landscape for a Tina Fey Statue it’s gotta come down. You pay a steep price for comedy gone bad.”

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