Popular, but not drinkable

Netflix plays the priest with Caleb’s daughters

Netflix does not tolerate any “blackface” on its platform, regardless of the historical context of the series it contains, the year the show in question was made, and the intent behind the story. I have been told that this is a clear, rigid and untouchable US corporate policy.

Posted at 7:15 am

That’s why the second episode of daughters of Calebwhere Ovila Pronovost (Roy Dupuis) ​​plays the black wizard king Balthazar with shoe polish on his face, has been removed from Netflix and will not reappear there.

A Netflix source speaks of a “corporate decision that applies to all territories, not just Quebec.” Tests ? A few years ago, Netflix cut the third episode of the third season of Crazy men, where publicist Roger Sterling (John Slattery) sang the part My old home in Kentucky, goodnight face made up in black. The scene was then set in 1963 and made the suave Don Draper (Jon Hamm) uncomfortable.

Don’t look for 14 eitherme episode of the second season of the sitcom Community, an episode titled “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons”. Netflix also removed it because it contains a “blackface” scene. The character of the Spanish teacher Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) is disguised as an elf with pointed ears and dark skin, face, neck and hands with black faces.

Netflix, therefore, applies the same rule to all the productions it presents, without any discernment, without cultural judgment. “Blackface” is no.

We cut. Easy and simplistic solution to a more complex problem, which requires flexibility and reflection.

Because no, it is not smart to remove all episodes that may offend viewers. It is so elementary, and I refrain from writing stupid and stupid.

When Crazy men left Netflix in July 2020 to rejoin the larger Amazon family, the banned “blackface” episode was reinstated in the catalog with a long background panel. This is also what Radio-Canada did with the second episode of daughters of Caleb, online at Extra de Tou.TV. Before the show begins, a disclaimer states that this “show is offered as originally created” and may “contain different social and cultural depictions of current affairs.”

It is a good compromise to avoid censoring or amputating works that take place in times when mentalities were very different from today.

The controversial sequence of daughters of Calebwhich lasts seven minutes, takes place in December 1896. School teacher Émilie Bordeleau (Marina Orsini), who has not yet turned 18, organizes a “Christmas session” for children, parents and the entire town of Saint – Tite.

The students of M.me Bordeleau recreates the Nativity with José, María and the Magi, and it is Ovila who inherits the role of Baltasar, the one who offers myrrh as a gift. Good old Ovila, who stumbles on stage, has a black make-up face and big red lips.

I repeat: we are in a range school at the end of the XIXme century. There are no blacks in the Quebec countryside, much less awareness of racism and discrimination. Today, of course, we would not do that again. In the context of a series like Caleb’s daughtersthis scene represents a less glorious reality in our history, but a reality nonetheless.

Blackface, which has long ridiculed black people by exaggerating their features, existed in Montreal and Quebec in minstrel shows. There was a first wave at the end of the 19th century, the period of daughters of Caleb —and a second wave from the 1920s. The composer of theCanadaCalixa Lavallée was even part of an American “blackface” troupe that visited Montreal and Quebec.

In short, it is not incongruous or anachronistic to see a “black face” in Caleb’s daughters.

Also, the two male characters who laugh at Ovila who “smears his face with charcoal to make it black”, according to Ovide Provonost (Patrick Goyette), seem very mean in the episode. And they put themselves in their place.

the censorship of daughters of Caleb going very badly in Quebec, for good reason. The author of the novel, Arlette Cousture, as well as the actors Roy Dupuis, Pierre Curzi and Marina Orsini have strongly denounced Netflix’s lack of criteria. They are absolutely right.

Netflix, which offers Caleb’s daughters to her Canadian subscribers only, she punched a hole in Arlette Cousture’s story and changed the content of her story without giving an explanation. No one at Netflix Canada commented on the removal of the controversial episode.

There is a priest in Caleb’s daughters, the priest Grenier (Reynald Bouchard), and this priest of 1896 is much more progressive than the Netflix of 2022, which unnecessarily plays the guardian of morals with its flock. Who needs another priest to separate good from (great) evil?


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