As we progress, society as a whole is appearing more woke. Meaning, many are becoming vocal about the injustice and unfairness they see in politics, media and so on. It’s no secret that the history of America and its art is filled with racist stereotypes. As the world is vocalizing its sensitivity to these inaccurate themes, should we censor these classic books and movies? Christian Watson and Nate Lerner discussed this idea with Julia Sun on Millennial Minute.
To keep or not to keep…
Watson says we should look at art as “products on their time.” In 1915, “The Birth of a Nation” was released and shown at the White House. D. W. Griffith’s film about the Reconstruction Era featured people in blackface and depicted Klansmen as heroes. This film is considered to be a driving force that revived the Ku Klux Klan. While Watson didn’t appreciate the film’s message, he described it as an important learning tool. It allowed him to get into the minds of “people who believe in the false idea of racial identity.”
Lerner says editing these controversial works would “take away from the content as it was meant to be read, interpreted or viewed.” Despite the painful themes, he says it’s important to acknowledge these works and understand what life was like in America during that time. Instead of removing them, he says there should be disclaimers that warn viewers about its sensitive themes. Some companies already have taken this approach. If you browse the Disney+ catalog, you’ll notice some childhood favorites have this content advisory warning in their description:
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”From Disney+’s Peter Pan description
What do you think? Should we completely abandon these works or should we use them as learning tools? Watch the full discussion and let us know your thoughts on social media!
For more Millennial Minute, check out this article.