The Office US changes season 9 Christmas episode due to blackface

Justin Harp
Photo credit: NBC Universal

From Digital Spy

The Office US will edit an episode for streaming because of its references to blackface.

Series creator Greg Daniels has announced that the season nine episode 'Dwight's Christmas' will remove scenes about the offensive Zwarte Piet, a real-life Dutch character of folklore who appears in blackface each holiday season.

The episode sees Dwight (Rainn Wilson) objecting to his co-workers taking offence to the Zwarte Piet/Black Pete character when he tries to celebrate his family's strange holiday traditions in the office — going so far as to have Nate (Mark Proksch) briefly dress up as Black Pete.

Now, Daniels has released a statement to TheWrap to acknowledge that it was wrong to use blackface for laughs even though the 'Dwight's Christmas' was trying to make a satirical point about the offensive folklore.

Photo credit: NBC Universal

"The Office is about a group of people trying to work together with mutual respect despite the inappropriate actions of their boss and assistant manager," the producer said. "The show employed satire to expose unacceptable behavior and deliver a message of inclusion.

"Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticise a specific racist European practice. Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused."

The Office will be making edits to syndicated TV versions of 'Dwight's Christmas', in addition to the streaming version when it arrives on NBC's Peacock subscription service.

Photo credit: NBC Universal

Other scripted shows have also recently edited or removed episodes that featured racially-insensitive scenes, including Scrubs, 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Fawlty Towers.

Little Britain, The League of Gentlemen and Bo Selecta have been pulled entirely from some streaming services because of offensive characters.

For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.

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