Fans of the WWE network have seen and heard racist tropes in the ring for years.
During a showdown between Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown in 1990, a white wrestler, Mr. Piper, who is white, showed up for the match with half his face painted black.
In 2005, WWE executive director Vince McMahon repeatedly used a racist arc in a prepared sketch.
Until recently, these segments were available on the WWE network, allowing subscribers to revisit old episodes and seasons of WrestleMania from the 1980s. But this month after WWE episodes moved to Peacock, NBCUniversal’s young streaming service, longtime wrestling viewers realized they couldn’t find either segment.
“The whole match is over,” said Christopher Jeter, 30, who has been watching professional wrestling since he was ten and now writes about it for Daily DDT, a news and opinion center on WWE. “I wouldn’t say it’s a big loss.”
NBCUniversal said that Peacock “reviews WWE content to make sure it is in line with Peacock’s standards and practices,” as it does with other shows and films on the platform.
“Peacock and WWE are reviewing all past content to make sure it meets our 2021 standards,” WWE said.
NBCUniversal announced in January that Peacock had acquired exclusive streaming rights to WWE network content through a multi-year agreement.
In March, the company announced that Peacock would release favorite WWE content at launch, including any previous WrestleManias that led to WrestleMania 37.
The company said Peacock will continue to add WWE Network content to its library to make the entire archive available to fans.
The segments are being removed as other streaming services and entertainment companies have tried to provide context for the audience for older movies and TV shows with objectionable content.
Disney’s streaming service includes a 12-second disclaimer that cannot be skipped before movies like “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan” tell viewers that they will see “negative representations” and “abuse of people or cultures”.
“Those stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” warns the disclaimer. “Instead of removing this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful effects, learn from it and stimulate conversation so that together we can create a more inclusive future.”
This month, Turner Classic Movies screened 18 classic films, including “The Jazz Singer” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” preceded by commentary from film experts who prepared viewers for scenes that might or might disturb them.
HBO Max first removed “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming service and then added it with a four-minute introduction from TCM presenter Jacqueline Stewart explaining the film’s enduring cultural significance despite “denying the horrors of slavery as well as his Legacies of Racial Inequality. “
Last June, an NBC spokesperson said that at the request of Tina Fey, the show’s creator, and Robert Carlock, an executive producer and showrunner, four blackface episodes of “30 Rock” were withdrawn.
Mr Jeter, the WWE fan who writes on wrestling, said that racist and sexist depictions of women, blacks and other people of color have long been part of professional wrestling.
“It became such a part of product viewing that it was expected,” he said. “But it’s not why I watch wrestling.”
Most fans, he said, watch wrestling because they enjoy the combination of athleticism and dramatic storytelling. The racist tropics were often a distraction, said Mr Jeter.
“I’m sure there are fans who say, ‘Why are you censoring?’” He said. “But it’s really not a big deal that they are getting rid of those stories and segments that haven’t aged really well and weren’t really good at the time.”