Tina Fey is the latest celebrity to come under fire as Americans continue to look back at comedy and satire that is no longer considered appropriate.
Fey recently took it upon herself to reach out to executives at NBCUniversal in order to have episodes of “30 Rock” featuring characters using blackface removed from all streaming platforms, according to reports on Monday.
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey, 50, said in a statement obtained by Deadline.
But Fey’s “30 Rock” decision didn’t stop critics from attacking her past.
Tina Fey is the latest celebrity to come under fire as Americans continue to look back at comedy and satire that is no longer considered appropriate. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
The Daily Beast on Tuesday published an article headlined, “Tina Fey’s Problems With Race Extend Far Beyond ‘30 Rock’s’ Blackface,” that detailed multiple claims of the comedian walking a “tightrope between satirizing racial stereotypes and simply replicating them.”
Daily Beast entertainment reporter Laura Bradley wrote that “racial awkwardness” is cooked into the DNA of the show.
“30 Rock’s two primary black characters are dueling racial tropes — the lazy, over-the-top Black man, as represented by the eccentric Tracy Jordan, and the educated and ‘well-spoken’ James Spurlock, known to his NBC family as ‘Toofer’ because he is both Black and went to Harvard. At times, the show uses this false dichotomy to comment on the way Black men are seen by white people and portrayed in white media. But often, these stereotypes are simply used for laughs,” Bradley wrote before recommending that “30 Rock” episodes should include a disclaimer noting that the humor is now disavowed.
The Daily Beast reporter then touched on Fey’s more recent show, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which, she wrote, is equally flawed.
Tina Fey poses at the 21st annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards in Los Angeles on October 20, 2014.
“The series has its successes when it comes to addressing race — like a Season 1 storyline in which Tituss Burgess’s narcissistic actor character Titus Andromedon realizes he’s treated better while dressed as a werewolf than when he wanders the streets of New York as a Black man. But in its second season, the series also revealed that Krakowski’s character, Jane White, was actually Native American. That season also included a Vietnamese love interest for Kimmy named Dong — on one hand, a positive move as Asian male love interests remain rare in Hollywood, but also a disappointment as the character was largely a stereotype,” Bradley wrote.
Bradley then took aim at Fey for once noting that “Saturday Night Live” viewers should avoid protesting white supremacists who had descended on Charlottesville, Va. — and instead, eat cake. “At the time, online critics noted the privilege required to wash one’s hands of such demonstrations and binge on cake instead,” Bradley said, adding that Fey “admitted, they were right.”
“Whether Fey wants to face it or not, her legacy is a lot more complicated than a few questionable episodes—and scrubbing them from streaming services won’t change that,” Bradley wrote.
The Daily Beast story mirrors a 2018 YouTube video about Fey’s “weird obsession” with racial humor, indicating that criticism of her career isn’t entirely new.
Many have taken to Twitter with thoughts on the situation:
Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.