The popular Cartoon Network programming block Adult Swim has announced that various episodes from several of their animated series have been “permanently retired” from streaming and broadcast “due to cultural sensitivities.”
Adult Swim’s attempt to erase these episodes from the public consciousness was first discovered in June, when Aqua Teen Hunger Force fans noticed that the episode Shake Like Me, in which Master Shake gradually begins to turn into a stereotypical black person after being bitten by a ‘radioactive Black man,’ had suddenly been removed from HBO Max and Adult Swim’s official website.
Curiously, the episode made a brief reappearance on HBO Max in August before being swiftly removed from the streaming service once more.
Shortly thereafter, fans found that The Boondocks episode The Story of Jimmy Rebel, which had previously been banned from broadcast by Adult Swim due to its heavy use of satirical racist humor, was also unavailable for streaming on HBO Max.
When reached for comment, an HBO Max representative informed The Daily Beast that Shake Like Me and The Story of Jimmy Rebel were unavailable because “neither of those episodes are part of our streaming deals.”
However, in a separate statement, a representative for Adult Swim contradicted HBO MAX and told the news outlet that the episodes had been “permanently retired due to cultural sensitivities.”
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,” the Adult Swim representative explained. “Oftentimes these decisions are made in collaboration with the show’s creators.”
The representative informed The Daily Beast that the programming block had “temporarily rested” an episode of the stop-motion series The Shivering Truth, out of respect “to sensitivity around current events,” but also noted that the episode “will be returning to the site and included when the series debuts on HBO Max.”
In the removed episode of The Shivering Truth, an Ogled Inklings, a doctor exclaims in horror after delivering a woman’s child that she has given birth to a “dirty pig” and reveals that her son has come out of the womb wearing a police hat.
Unsurprisingly, the removal of these episodes did not sit well with fans, who took to social media to voice their frustration and confusion over the programming block’s seemingly hypocritical decision to promote sensitivity by censoring the work of a black creator.
“Adult Swim does an entire spiel about how BLM is EPIC but then shitcans the Boondocks for being “insensitive”” observed Twitter user @ParagonDeku.
User @RikkaNoodles noted how “the voice actor for Frylock, who is black, has had to use multiple GoFundMe’s to not go homeless and repair his house because Adult Swim refuses to pay him royalties” and sarcastically encouraged Adult Swim to “keep censoring cartoons for those sweet epic virtue signaling points!”
After pointing out that “The Boondocks was written and produced by a black man,” user ClockworkRZA asked “Doesn’t this count as Adult Swim “silencing black creatives”?”
As criticism and backlash continued to mount against Adult Swim for their decision, Adult Swim Senior Vice President and Creative Director Jason DeMarco took to his personal Twitter in order to insult and antagonize upset fans.
“Guys with usernames like “peepeeandpoopoo” are SUPER pissed about this so let me save you some time,” wrote DeMarco. “I don’t have anything to do with these decisions, I don’t care, and complaining to me won’t change any of it. Hope that helps!”
In response to the aforementioned user @peepeeandpoo, who joked that these actions were “censoring [their] black creators”, DeMarco argued that “99% of these comments are racists mad about our BLM piece who now think they have a club to hit back with,” and taunted critics to “stay mad”.
DeMarco would ultimately dismiss the criticism against Adult Swim as a “Bunch of bros with 30 followers and anime avatars screaming into the void about “hypocrisy” because some episodes of tv shows were pulled off a streaming service.”
“Good lord, grow up,” he concluded.
However, these tweets were soon deleted, with DeMarco admitting that they were “a bridge too far.”
“Bad call on my part to get snippy,” DeMarco said. “Bad days in life can easily turn to bad days on Twitter if you let them. I keep needing to relearn this lesson over and over again, but being negative on here just brings you negativity.”
As of writing, multiple clips from Shake Like Me remain live on Adult Swim’s YouTube channel, as seen through this article.
Do you think these episodes should have been removed? What’s your opinion on DeMarco’s response? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!