Cancel Culture and the Black Lives Matter Movement: The Fine Line Between Social Change and Censorship in Entertainment



In today’s world, there is little room for second chances. The public’s growing demand for accountability has led celebrities and public figures alike to be “canceled”, or rather, “culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform or career,”[1] for their problematic comments and actions. On one hand, the movement encourages positive social change by dissuading individuals in power from engaging in offensive behavior. On the other, however, cancel culture risks excessive censorship. After many have effectively had their voices silenced from being “canceled,” this modern trend begs the question of whether cancel culture has gone too far.[2]

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, many have been, and continue to be “canceled” for their racist actions and comments. The entertainment industry has been especially affected, like many actors, executives, and reality television stars have been fired for racist behavior.[3] Additionally, racist content is being removed from various platforms. However, the industry’s promising strides towards contributing to a more inclusive and accepting culture has not been met without criticism. HBO Max notably caused controversy when it announced it would be removing “Gone With the Wind” from its library of films.[4]

The 1939 film tells the love story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in the midst of the American Civil War. The film has been long praised as “one of the most popular films ever made.”[5] In fact, the movie holds great historical significance, as it earned Hattie McDaniel an Oscar, making her the first ever African American to receive the award. Nevertheless, the film generates great disapproval for its portrayal of slavery. Although HBO Max noted that “Gone With the Wind” is a “product of its time,” it acknowledged that “these racist depictions [in the film] were wrong then and are wrong today.”[6] The platform ultimately announced that the movie would not return to the platform unless accompanied by a “discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions.”[7]

The platform’s move came in response to an opinion article in the Los Angeles Times that demanded that HBO Max take “Gone With the Wind” “off [its] platform for now.”[8] In the opinion piece, John Ridley, the screenwriter of “12 Years a Slave,” wrote that the firm ignored the horrors of slavery and “perpetuate[d] some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”[9] He ultimately asked that the film be taken down from HBO Max for a respectful amount of time.


When the platform ultimately complied with Ridley’s request, it faced criticism. Journalist Megyn Kelley responded by tweeting, “Are we going to pull all of the movies in which women are treated as sex objects too? Guess how many films we’ll have left? Where does this end??”[10] Others expressed concern that removing the film discredited Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar performance that represented a huge achievement for the African American community. On the other hand, stars like Queen Latifah supported the platform’s move, expressing “Let ‘Gone With the Wind’ be gone with the wind.”[11] In response to the controversy surrounding Hattie McDaniel’s performance being “canceled” as a consequence, she responded, “They didn’t even let her in the theater until right before she got that award.”[12] In fact, at the time, McDaniel was forced to sit separately from the rest of her “Gone With the Wind” cast due to racial segregation.

HBO has since confirmed that the film will return to its streaming platform, but with a discussion of its historical context and denouncement of its racist depictions. HBO Max follows in Disney Plus’s footsteps, who added disclaimers to several of its films that depict racist stereotypes, such as “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan.”[13] In fact the platform’s move was a great success, attracting ten million subscribers in just one day.[14] The disclaimer reads, “This Program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”[15] However, many still feel that a disclaimer is not nearly enough.[16] Warner Brothers have added similar, more detailed disclaimers to its cartoons such as “Tom and Jerry.”[17]

On the flip side, The Paramount Network announced that its show “Cops”, which glorified police, will be canceled.[18] The show’s thirty-third season was expected to premiere on June 15. The cancelation comes as no surprise, as organizations like Color of Change have been campaigning to remove the show for years.[19] Following “Cops,” reality show “Live PD” was also canceled. In a statement made by A&E, the network expressed, “This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on ‘Live PD…Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”[20]

The truth of the matter is that the entertainment industry carries a history of films, television shows, and music filled with unfavorable notions: racism, sexism, and homophobia amongst others. The industry is now faced with a tough decision: to cancel or not to cancel? Should films with offensive themes be erased from history? Or should they remain as an educational tool as society moves forward? Where does the line get drawn between social justice and censorship? Such questions will continue to shape the path the entertainment industry will follow in the future.

[1] Aja Romano, Why We Can’t Stop Fighting about Cancel Culture?, VOX (Dec. 30, 2019, 12:40 PM),

[2] Sarah Hagi, Cancel Culture is Not Real – At Least Not in the Way People Think, Time (Nov. 21, 2019, 6:43 AM),

[3] Marissa Dellatto and Lauren Steussy, Celebrities Who Got Fired from Their TV Shows for Alleged Racism, New York Post (June 11, 2020, 10:27 AM),

[4] Frank Pallotta, ‘Gone With the Wind’ Pulled from HBO Max Until it Can Return with ‘Historical Context’

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] John Ridley, Op-Ed: Hey, HBO, ‘Gone With the Wind’ Romanticizes the Horrors of Slavery. Take it Off Your Platform for Now, Los Angeles Times (June 8, 2020

[9] Id.

[10] Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly), Twitter (June 10, 2020, 3:57 AM).

[11] Roisin O’Connor, Queen Latifah Weighs in on Gone With the Wind Controversy: ‘Let it Be Gone’, Independent (June 17, 2020),

[12] Id.

[13] Mae Anderson, Disney Plus Adds Disclaimer About Racist Movie Stereotypes, ABC News (Nov. 14, 2019),

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Sharareh Drury, Disney+ “Outdated Cultural Depictions” Disclaimer Raises Questions, Say Advocacy Groups, The Hollywood Reporter (Nov. 16, 2020),

[17] Id.

[18] Nicole Sperling, ‘Cops,’ Long-Running Reality Show That Glorified Police, Is Canceled, New York Times (June 9, 2020),

[19] See id.

[20] Michael Schneider, ‘Live PD’: Inside A&E’s Swift Decision to Cancel the Show, and Whether it Will Ever Return, Variety (June 11, 2020),


Sabrina Fani is a second year student at Loyola Law School concentrating in Business and Entertainment Law.

Supporting Black Lives Matter Through Television



Many Americans are finding themselves watching the news recently; there’s plenty to watch. George Floyd and Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) protests, a roller-coaster economy, fiery foreign affairs, and a pandemic on top of it all. It can be hard to decide what to watch, but this article will make that decision easier for you by focusing on movies, shows, and documentaries that speak to and portray the Black experience. Next to sleeping or working, Americans are most likely to watch television than anything other activity.[1] Research shows television can have a profound effect on individuals.[2] Given the influence research shows television has on individuals, there must be an active effort to promote television which portrays minority characters positively.

Entertainment companies are already getting on board. Streaming giant Netflix was among the first of media and entertainment companies to announce support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In a tweet, Netflix said, “[w]e have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.”[3] In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, Netflix noticed an uptick in searches for the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”[4] In response, Netflix created a collection featuring forty-five titles about racial injustice and the experience of Black Americans.[5] This collection includes Spike Lee’s upcoming “Da 5 Bloods” (2020); “13th” (2016); “When They See Us” (2019); “Mudbound” (2017); “Dear White People” (2017); and “Moonlight” (2016).[6] Still, Netflix isn’t the only entity to promote Black-experience television.

Lifestyle technology site Women Love Tech released a list of ten movies and shows an individual can watch to support Black Lives Matter.[7] Watching a movie or show is a way to support BLM because of the education that can be taken out of it.[8] By watching movies like “Do The Right Thing” (1989); “13th” (2016); or “Malcolm X” (1992), a viewer becomes more informed, develops a stronger voice, and empowers a person to write a more informed statement to their local representative or lawyer.[9] Women Love Tech also suggests watching “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement” (2016); “Freedom Riders” (2010); “Fruitvale Station” (2013); “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” (2018); “Seven Seconds” (2018); “I Am Not Your Negro” (2016); and “Get Out” (2018).[10]


In addition, Birmingham Updates suggests a few documentaries and films to educate oneself.[11] Bolded on their homepage is the phrase, “When Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter!”[12] For educational purposes and to promote the BLM cause, Birmingham Updates suggests “Just Mercy” (2019); “King In The Wilderness” (2018); “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise” (2016); “Slavery By Another Name” (2008); “American Son” (2019); “Dark Girls” (2011); “Sorry to Bother You” (2018); “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (2015); “Teach Us All” (2017); and “Strong Island” (2017).[13] However, just as there are movies that support the BLM cause, there are also ones to avoid because they do not support the cause.

There is not much written about what movies or shows work against the Black Lives Movement, and for good reason. “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is a phrase many people have heard.[14] The phrase carries some merit because even when publicity is negative it still stimulates awareness.[15] As a result, it is something of a paradox to promote Black Lives Matter and the media that supports that cause, but then turn around and “promote” media that doesn’t. Instead, make it a goal to watch television actively, rather than passively. To actively view a program requires audience members to do some type of action, such as reflect on what they see and hear, as they take in the content.[16] Watching television is also active consumption because everything we see or hear is interpreted and the viewer chooses to consume and place the content into his or her personal ideologies and intellect.[17] Moreover, everything a viewer encounters in the media is carried under his or her understanding of it and influences that viewer’s attitude.[18]

In conclusion, there are a lot of great movies, shows, and documentaries available to watch on the Black experience. For those who are able to access Netflix, their new collection of media is a great resource to educate and learn about the Black experience. For those who cannot access Netflix, there are still other ways to potentially watch some of these productions. Lastly, not all television portrays the Black experience in a positive light; it’s important to remain an active viewer when consuming television. Think about what is being shown, said, and decide for yourself how the Black experience is presented to the audience. Black Lives Matter.




[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.


[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.


[12] Id.

[13] Id.




[17] Id.

[18] Id.


John Latson is a second-year law student at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, Treasurer for the Student Body Association, and Treasurer for Pepperdine’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society.


Supreme Court Affirms LGBTQ+ Workers Rights


By Eryn L. Pollard


We are still mourning the deaths of Black men, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Black women, Pamela Turner, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, and Black transgender and non-binary people, Iyanna Dior and Toney McDade, and we will continue to demand justice for the those who have lost their lives to the excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement.

Bust as of Monday June 15, 2020, amidst a global pandemic, what may be an economic crisis, and a revelation that systemic racisms and privilege does exist, as well as an information overload, there is still cause for celebration.

As of June 15, 2020, The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U. S. 1 (2020), protecting employee’s rights, condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


This is a hallmark case, as in December of 2012, United States Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memorandum discussing the scope of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and whether it was unconstitutional to discriminate in the workplace based on and individual’s “sex”. Thus, providing clarification on the opinion that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act extends workplace protections to “gender identity” ­– protecting transgender and non-binary American citizens. A.G. Holder wrote, “After considering the text of Title VII, the relevant Supreme Court case law interpreting the statute, and the developing jurisprudence in this area, I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’ s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.”[1] He then addended, “[t]he most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination “because of … sex” includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.” [2]


Despite A.G. Holder’s attempts to clarify the Justice Department’s position on Title VII and its relation to gender-identity and sexual orientation protections, in October of 2017, United States A.G. Jeff Sessions withdraws Holder’s 2014 memorandum. A.G. Sessions asserted that the Justice Department is taking an opposite position and “Title VII expressly prohibits discrimination “because of … sex” and several other protected traits, but it does not refer to gender identity. “Sex” is ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female [. . .] Accordingly, Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including trans gender status.” [3] Consequently, as of 2016 the Justice Department made it very clear that they were no longer following the board definition of “sex” to include “gender-identity”.



But as of June 15, 2020, The Supreme Court of the United States has made their interpretation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act very clear. In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U. S. 1 (2020), the S.C. assess three cases which all had the common denominator of an employee being fired after reveling his/hers/their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The S.C. uses a “but for” causation standard in that “[i]f an employer would not have discharged an employee but for that individual’s sex, the statute’s causation standard is met, and liability may attach.” [4] As such, even if an employer fires an employee because she is homosexual or transgender, and “two causal factors may be in play— both the individual’s sex and something else (the sex to which the individual is attracted or with which the individual identifies) [. . . ] Title VII doesn’t care” and liability attaches. The Court goes on to say, “[f]or an employer to discriminate against employees for being homosexual or transgender, the employer must intentionally discriminate against individual men and women in part because of sex. That has always been prohibited by Title VII’s plain terms—and that “should be the end of the analysis.” 883 F. 3d, at 135 (Cabranes, J., concurring in judgment).” [5] As such, on the grounds that the plain meaning interpretation of the words “sex” in Title VII, gender identity and sexual orientation is included and it is unconstitutional to discriminate in the workplace based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.


But, what about other circumstances and environments that are not protected? For example, are transgender and non-binary conformists allowed to use the restrooms that represent their gender-identity? This is an open question and a highly debated social and human rights issue. Not just days before this landmark Supreme Court opinion was published, did we see someone well known in the literary and entertainment industry – J.K. Rowling – giver her opinion on a narrow, biological interpretation of “sex”.[6] The Supreme Court makes it abundantly clear that under “Title VII, too, we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind. The only question before us is whether an employer who fires someone simply for being homosexual or transgender has discharged or otherwise discriminated against that individual “because of such individual’s sex.” [7]


Consequently, although Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U. S. 1 (2020) is a landmark case providing Federal protections to members of the LGBTQ+ community, we as a society, we as a country, we as people, have a long way to go.


[1] Memorandum from the United States Att’y Gen. Eric Holder to United States Attorneys Heads of Dep’t Components on Treatment of Transgender Emp’t Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Dec. 15, 2014) (on file with

[2] Id.

[3]Memorandum from the United States Att’y Gen. Jeff Sessions to United States Attorneys Heads of Dep’t Components on Revised Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Oct. 4, 2017) (on file with

[4] Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U. S. 1, 11 (2020).

[5] Id. at 12.

[6] J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling), TWITTER (Jun. 6, 2020)

[7] Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U. S. 1, 31 (2020).



Eryn L. Pollard, is a second-year law student at Notre Dame Law School and is the secretary of the Black Law Students Association.

Juneteenth: The Symbolic Celebration of the End of Slavery in the United States


By Sabrina Fani


One hundred and fifty-five years ago to the day, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Texas with the announcement that the Civil War had ended, and that slaves had been freed.[1] As time has passed, many have come to regard June 19th, or rather, Juneteenth, as the day enslaved people were freed and slavery ended. However, that is not exactly the case.


In fact, General Granger’s news was delivered nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the United States as of January 1, 1963.[2] Devastatingly, about 250,000 slaves in Texas were unaware that they had been freed during that time span.[3] Because many slave owners continued to hold slaves captive after President Lincoln’s declaration, Juneteenth has become a symbolic date that celebrates African American Freedom.[4] The reality of the matter is that even after General Granger’s announcement, many enslavers continued to withhold the information from its slaves and oppressive racism persisted in Texas.[5]


Over the years, many have attempted to explain the two-and-a-half-year gap that prevented slaves in Texas from learning of their freedom. In 1865, the United States was in the middle of the Civil War, and states like Texas that had withdrawn from the Union did not uphold the Emancipation Proclamation.[6] Some believe that a messenger was killed on his way to Texas with news of emancipation or that the information was “deliberately withheld from enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations.”[7]


Today, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery.[8] Many observe the holiday annually as a day for education, reflection, family gatherings, and rejoicing.[9] However, Juneteenth is still not as widely recognized as it should be. President Trump recently caused controversy by claiming he made Juneteenth “famous” by scheduling a political rally in Tulsa on the holiday.[10] In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Trump claims, “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous.”[11] He continued to express, “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”[12] The President’s statements have been met with criticism as millions of African Americans have long celebrated Juneteenth.[13] Celebrations of Juneteenth began in 1866, a year after General Granger’s announcement. Black men, women, and children observed the holiday by “dress[ing] in their finest attire and gather[ing] to sing spirituals, pray, play baseball and eat.”[14]


emancipationproclamation          Amidst the recent protests demanding racial equality and recognition, the nation is beginning to recognize its shortcomings in education, including the absence of major Black historical events like Juneteenth from history classes.[15] Educators believe that “what has and what has not been taught in school have been part of erasing the history of systemic racism in America and the contributions of Black people and other minority groups.”[16] Incorporating events that are so often erased from history books is necessary to end the “long legacy of institutional racism that is barely covered in mainstream corporate curriculum.”[17]


Although Juneteenth continues to be celebrated nationwide, it is not recognized as a national holiday. Major companies like Target and Best Buy are declaring Juneteenth as a national paid holiday for its employees.[18] The entertainment industry has also heavily weighed in on the issue. Singer Pharell Williams joined Governor Ralph Northam in Richmond, Virginia to announce legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday.[19] Usher also stressed the importance of making June 19th a national holiday in a Washington Post opinion piece.


As the United States continues develop into one that takes accountability for its past wrongdoings, incorporating events such as Juneteenth into mainstream American education and culture is imperative for a more racially equal and accepting nation. In observance of the holiday, today presents the perfect opportunity to reflect, educate, and recognize African American history and culture.

[1] History of Juneteenth,,

[2] Id.

[3] DeNeen L. Brown, Juneteenth Celebrates ‘A Moment of Indescribable Joy’: Slavery’s End in Texas, Washington Post (June 18, 2020, 9:25 AM),

[4] History of Juneteenth, supra.

[5] Brown, supra.

[6] Ko Bragg, 9 Things to Know About the History of Juneteenth, NBC News (June 19, 2016, 12:11 PM),

[7] History of Juneteenth, supra.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Brown, supra.

[11] Michael C. Bender, Trump Talks Juneteenth, John Bolton, Economy in WSJ Interview, The Wall Street Journal (June 18, 2020, 3:07 PM),

[12] Id.

[13] Brown, supra.

[14] Id.

[15] Daniella Silva, From Juneteenth to the Tulsa Massacre: What Isn’t Taught in Classrooms has a Profound Impact, NBC News (June 18, 2020, 2:04 PM),

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Kelley Corbett, Target, JC Penney, Best Buy, and More Declare Juneteenth a Paid National Holiday for Employees, House Beautiful (June 17, 2020),

[19] Klaritza Rico, Pharrell Joins Virginia Governor to Announce Legislation to Make Juneteenth an Official State Holiday, Variety (June 16, 2020, 1:47 PM),



Sabrina Fani is a second year student at Loyola Law School concentrating in Business and Entertainment Law.

Adding Fuel to the Fire: Rayshard Brooks Shot Dead at a Wendy’s Drive-Thru


By Sabrina Fani


As the nation enters its third week of protests surrounding George Floyd’s murder, there is an emerging sense that “this time is different.”[1] Unlike any other point in history, states are adopting legislation to end police brutality, large corporations are pledging to make room for Black leadership, and individuals are donating millions of dollars to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.[2] Amidst the promising prospect of change towards racial equality, a harsh reality remains: much has stayed the same.

Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by police officer Garrett Rolfe at a Wendy’s drive-thru on Friday night when he allegedly resisted arrest and grabbed the officer’s taser after failing a sobriety test.[3] Security camera footage appears to show Brooks aiming the taser towards the police officer before he was shot dead. The autopsy report revealed that Brooks “suffered two gunshot wounds to his back and died of organ injuries and blood loss,” [4] amounting to homicide.


Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta rapidly responded to the fatal shooting. “While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” the Mayor expressed. She continued to state, “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”[5]


police brutality

Brooks’ death ignited demonstrations by protestors “incensed by the death of another black man at the hands of the police”[6]. Demonstrators set fire to the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was killed and shut down an interstate highway near the fast-food chain in both directions, leading to at least 36 arrests.[7] Many chanted “say his name” while others carried signs reading “He didn’t deserve to die” and “Convict the Killer Cop.”[8] According to news reports, police and the National Guard fired tear gas and flashed grenades in an attempt to disperse the crowd.[9]


Authorities confirmed early Sunday that Officer Rolfe had been fired after fatally shooting Brooks. The move comes after Saturday’s resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who stepped down after Brooks death “sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta.”[10] The Georgia NAACP called for Shields to be “held accountable for the continued threat on innocent Black lives in their community.”[11]


Rayshard Brooks’ name has been added to the list of too many who have lost their lives as a result of unjustified police brutality. His killing has led to a nation-wide uproar, demanding that Officer Rolfe be convicted for murder. “Not only are we hurt, we are angry,” expressed Chassidy Evans, Brooks’ niece. “When does it stop? We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change.”[12]

[1] Sandra Susan Smith, These Protests Feel Different, But We Have to be Realistic. There’s a Long Road Ahead, The Guardian (June 14, 2020, 5:30 AM),

[2] Poppy Noor, What the George Floyd Protests Have Achieved in Just Two Weeks, The Guardian (June 8, 2020, 2:40 PM),

[3] Justin Carissimo and Audrey McNamara, Atlanta Police Officer Fired after Fatally Shooting Black Man Rayshard Brooks, CBS News (June 16, 2020, 9:55 AM),

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Carrisimo and McNamara, supra.

[8] Grace Huck and Nicquel Terry Ellis, Rayshard Brooks Death: Atlanta Police Officer Fired; Police Chief Steps Down, USA Today (June 13, 2020, 2:37 PM),

[9] Fausset, et al., supra.

[10] Huck and Ellis, supra.

[11] Id.

[12] Andrew O’Reilliy, Trump Calls Shooting Death of Rayshard Brooks ‘Very Disturbing’, Fox News (June 15, 2020),



Sabrina Fani is a second year student at Loyola Law School concentrating in Business and Entertainment Law.