Disney isn’t the only media giant struggling to deal with racism in its back catalog now that it’s running a streaming service. Hollywood Reporter sources and PWInsider say NBCUniversal’s Peacock is removing racist scenes from classic WWE matches. While it’s not clear just how much has been edited so far, the removals include blackface in 1990’s Wrestlemania VI event as well as racist language in 2005’s Survivor Series 19.
Peacock is reportedly reviewing the full 17,000 hours of WWE material and alerting the wrestling giant of any changes. These moments did appear in WWE Network’s versions.
It’s not a completely surprising move when wrestling pushed and crossed boundaries for years. However, it also highlights the challenges of filling out streaming libraries with material that goes back decades. Services want to draw you in with complete collections, but doing that risks dredging up racist content those companies would rather forget.
Disney+ and HBO Max have taken relatively soft approaches, either limiting kids’ access to racist material or adding disclaimers while leaving videos largely unedited. Peacock appears to be considerably more strict, at least in response to WWE — it’s deleting segments outright rather than trying to contextualize bad behavior. It’s becoming clearer that you’ll see a variety of efforts to clean up or justify videos going forward.