Why ‘Mad Men’ Isn’t Removing Roger Sterling’s Blackface Episode
Mad Men is finally coming back on streaming after leaving Netflix. But, it’s not going to take the same route as other popular shows about their episodes that feature blackface.
Recently, TV shows are removing the episodes that include blackface in them. That includes It’s Always Sunshine in Philadelphia, Scrubs, 30 Rock, and others. But, it looks like AMC’s Mad Men is taking a slightly different route.
Which episode of Mad Men showed blackface?
The episode in question here is episode three of the third season of Mad Men. In it, Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is wearing blackface on stage as he sings ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ at his Derby Party. Moreover, Roger claimed to wear “shoe polish” at home, which was “a scream” according to his wife. This indicates that Roger wore blackface on multiple occasions.
Most of the audience was laughing hysterically, except for Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), who felt visibly uncomfortable. Now, this isn’t the only episode of Mad Men that depicts racism.
In the 60s, these racist connotations were common in America. But, instead of cutting this scene or episode out of Mad Men. Instead, Lionsgate, the production company behind Mad Men took a very different and more nuanced approach towards Roger Sterling’s blackface.
Lionsgate’s approach towards blackface is right
Lionsgate released a statement via the Los Angeles Times. They said that instead of taking the episode down or cutting the blackface out from Mad Men, they’ll run an educational message before the start of the episode. Their aim is to expose the “injustices and inequities within our society”. The statement would read:
This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America. One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963. In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety.
And personally, I feel like this is the right approach. It is better to confront the racist past of the United States, instead of cutting it out and pretending like it didn’t exist. By confronting it, Lionsgate, AMC, and Mad Men will be able to educate people on how blackface is wrong. Moreover, it will make the Mad Men’s depiction of the 60s very inaccurate. Therefore, it is the right decision to confront racism and education the people about it, instead of cutting it out of history.