There has been a surge of cultural reevaluation around the world in the wake of George Floyd's death. People and organizations have begun to change aspects of their brand or persona that reference or profit from racial inequality. For instance, pancake mix brand Aunt Jemima will be rebranded, as the Aunt Jemima character is actually based on the racist "Mammy" archetype, and rock band The Dixie Chicks will be now known as The Chicks, as the word "dixie" has connotations of slavery.
Even though it went off the air in 2013, it looks like The Office will be following suit. Series creator Greg Daniels announced that the ninth episode in season nine of the series, titled "Dwight's Christmas," would be altered to remove its use of blackface.
"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,” Daniels said in a statement to TheWrap. “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 criticize 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 episode in question features Dwight's attempt to get his co-workers to celebrate a traditional Schrute Family Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas in the office. He dresses up as Belsnickel, an odd St. Nicholas-like character in German folklore. The scene featuring blackface occurs when Oscar researches Belsnickel and discovers that his assistant is Zwarte Piet, a character who appears in blackface. It then cuts to warehouse worker Nate in the office parking lot, dressed as Zwarte Piet, complete with blackface. The episode has been changed to remove this interaction.
Not only has the episode been altered on Netflix, but the new cut is also replacing the original for its syndication on Comedy Central and other Viacom-owned channels.