The decade's most triggering comedy
According to a Daily Beast report this week, numerous episodes from several shows on the cable network Adult Swim have been deemed “problematic.” As a result, they have been permanently removed from the network and its streaming outlets, including HBO Max.
The affected shows are the raunchy, adult-oriented animated comedies: The Boondocks, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and The Shivering Truth.
As reported by the Daily Beast, the episodes were pulled without warning or announcement. Their absence was only later noticed by users on Reddit. “Eagle-eyed Redditors first noted the absence of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Season 6 episode ‘Shake Like Me’ from the series’ page on HBO Max in June.”
The premise of one indicted joke, from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s “Shake Like Me,” is that a black man becomes radioactive and proceeds to bite another character, transferring to him stereotypically African American traits and mannerisms.
As the Daily Beast added, a second guilty offender was an episode called “Boston,” which parodied a real-life bomb scare that was tied to the animated series’ feature film release in 2007.
The Adult Swim network defended its decisions in a statement, claiming the offending episodes have been “permanently retired due to cultural sensitivities,” adding that they have no plans to air them again. “When Adult Swim transitions series to a new platform … we determine what episodes are selected through creative and cultural filters and our standards and practices policies. Oftentimes these decisions are made in collaboration with the show’s creators.”
According to the report, a representative added that Adult Swim also axed an episode from another of the network’s shows, The Shivering Truth, again citing “sensitivity around current events.”
Moreover, the Daily Beast reported that Aaron McGruder, the creator of The Boondocks, declined to comment.
This incident wasn’t HBO’s first foray into the censorship of “unsavory content.” Last June, Comedy Central’s widely popular animated show, South Park, began streaming on HBO Max. However, HBO announced that in accordance with fundamentalist Islamic laws forbidding the depiction of Muhammad it would omit five episodes from the show’s canon that both depicted and satirized the Muslim prophet. Conversely, no such distinctions were made by HBO for crass humor hurled at Christian, Mormon, or Buddhist faiths.
Lately, networks pulling old episodes to abide by progressive platitudes and woke tenets has become a broader trend. Just last summer, at the behest of Tina Fey, Hulu pulled various episodes of 30 Rock (which reportedly contained depictions of blackface) from streaming. At the same time, Google Play and the iTunes both made them unavailable for purchase. Additionally, Hulu removed episodes from another show, Scrubs, for the same transgression. As noted by a Variety report, “Netflix has also removed an episode of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ 2015 comedy series ‘W/Bob and David’ that featured Cross in blackface.”
Such recent deletion of “offensive content” has not been limited to television shows. Last June, HBO Max temporarily removed the classic 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, before restoring it with an addendum, clarifying the film’s historical context to soften its outmoded depictions of race. HBO Max followed suit with another indelible 20th-century classic, Mel Brook’s acerbic Western spoof, Blazing Saddles. In efforts to explain the historical context and Brooks’ humor, the network went as far as to hire University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Stewart to deliver a public service announcement at the beginning of the film, warning viewers of potentially offensive context – presumably advising that such a violent macabre of sarcasm and wit should be viewed with a real adult.
As wisely suggested by the top Reddit comment in the Daily Beast’s report, if you love a film, a TV series – or even a music record or a book – buy a physical copy. Unlike its conveniently streamed counterpart, the hard copy cannot be tampered or manipulated to conform to new trends or radical demands. If tomorrow’s publishers suddenly decide that adding a disclaimer to Gone with the Wind’s film adaption wasn’t sufficient, they will add a disclaimer to the novel – and there’s no reason to think they’re going to stop there.
Harry Khachatrian is a Canadian computer engineer and a contributor at The Daily Wire. Find him on Twitter.