Paramount CEO: We Won’t Pull Historical Content With ‘Different Sensibilities’
Most major media companies have staked their futures on streaming services with massive troves of legacy content. But in doing so, they often find themselves with the dilemma of what to do when some of that content features material that would be considered racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive by modern standards.
The chief executive of one such company said this week that they won’t be pulling such content.
Bob Bakish, the CEO of Paramount Global, said in an interview that the company will not be getting rid of content just because it does not conform to modern-day sensibilities.
“By definition, you have some things that were made in a different time and reflect different sensibilities,” Bakish said, according to The Guardian. “I don’t believe in censoring art that was made historically, that’s probably a mistake. It’s all on demand – you don’t have to watch anything you don’t want to.”
Paramount Global owns Paramount+, as well as SHOWTIME and Pluto TV. Bakish and other Paramount brass have been making the rounds in the British press this week as Paramount+ prepares to launch in the U.K. and Ireland on Wednesday.
Different streaming services have taken different approaches to deal with potentially offensive content. Many have left the movies and shows on their services as is, while others have added disclaimer cards prior to the presentation, as HBO Max did with “Blazing Saddles,” while otherwise not making any adjustments to the content. In one famous example, HBO Max added a video disclaimer to its presentation of “Gone With the Wind.”
In other cases, episodes of series featuring blackface or other offensive content have been pulled from services, such as when Hulu removed episodes of “30 Rock” in 2020. This was done at the behest of that show’s creator, Tina Fey. Around the same time, Netflix removed some episodes of “Little Britain,” for similar reasons.
In the interview, Bakish did not mention any movies or shows specifically. One example of such a film, which was made by Paramount and is available to stream on Paramount+, is 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” While a film classic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” has been widely denounced over the years for actor Mickey Rooney’s caricature of an Asian-American character, Mr. Yunioshi.
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