There's a natural tendency to blame "cancel culture" when TV shows and movies we like become "problematic now," says Jeva Lange. "It's unfair to project today's politics on to things that were created for a different cultural climate, or so the thought goes," says Lange. "But the content eliciting this renewed scrutiny — be it Golden Girls or 30 Rock or Gone with the Wind — is no more problematic now than it's ever been. And by acknowledging that it is not the substance of the show or movie that has changed, but our own collective understanding of it, we can move forward into more productive conversations about how to realize a kinder, more inclusive, and more empathetic culture." Lange points out that recently pulled blackface episodes from shows like 30 Rock, Scrubs, Community and The Golden Girls were always problematic. "To call something 'problematic' is to write it off as failing to measure up to the politically correct standards of the day without articulating exactly how or why that is the case," says Lange, adding: "But if 'problematic' can be a lazy catch-all, then specifying that something is 'problematic now' is often to express exasperation at the way a perfectly innocent piece of culture seems to get swept up by the fickle tides of wokeness. As if there had never been a problem with said movie or TV show before its reconsideration. The phrase 'problematic now' further implies that there was once a time when the 'problematic' material in question — be it blackface or homophobic slurs or transgender jokes, all of which have been the staples of popular comedies over the years — was something that was ever okay. In truth there was never a time that such attitudes were excusable; they were simply more widely held." Lange adds: "Rather than imply that the episodes themselves are newly inappropriate, or suggest that society has somehow bent itself out of shape to 'ruin' the show, for something to now be identified as problematic might better reflect the way our own individual understanding of it has changed — that more people are now aware of the fact that blackface is a tool of racism, and that it cannot be lightly or inoffensively used in comedy without causing hurt. These discussions are imperative for progress toward a more empathetic culture, because identifying past mistakes helps prevent them from being repeated uncritically." ALSO: Why removing blackface episodes is "just trying to Band-Aid over history."