Release: Jan 30, 2022 - Author: TheHutt - Translator: TheHutt - external link: IMDB - more from this series
"The Office", a very successful US adaptation of the British original of the same name created by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant, was not very successful at first, but due to word of mouth and soaring digital downloads it became a huge success. The fake documentary showing the usual office life madness of a paper company centered around an infantile boss went on for 9 seasons.
As far as censorship is concerned, "The Office" didn't have much of that. There were pixelations of naughty bits (especially from Meredith) and beeping of language, which are actually not real censorship, but a stylistic device. Also, there are some extended episodes, so-called "Producer's Extended Cuts" which are found on home media. Nevertheless, some episodes did experience real censorship, so that's what we're dealing with.
„Dwight Christmas“ Controversy
As opposed to "Koi Pond" the 9th episode of the final 9th season got censored long after its original release. The reason was the violent death of George Floyd in the USA. After the BlackLivesMatters protests which followed virtually all sitcoms underwent scrutiny as far as political correctness is concerned.
"Dwight Christmas" was eventually the episode that got censored. On the plot: Dwight (Rainn Wilson) makes a "Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas" party and dresses up as Belsnickel, a pelt-clad German associate of Saint Nicolas. In one scene, Nate (Mark Proksch) is portraying Zwarte Piet, his alleged helper (which is actually considered problematic within the plot of the episode). The problem is that Zwarte Piet (actually a Dutch character) is traditionally portrayed in so-called "Blackface" which is concidered, ndependent of context, a no-go since BLM.
The cut was endorsed by Executive Producer Greg Daniels, by the way:
"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 uncensored version is still available in the US and EU on DVD and BluRay. The Netflix version is censored worldwide.
The uncensored version („Uncensored version“) is compared with the censored version as seen on Netflix („Netflix Version“).
Timecode Uncensored Version: 00:11:09
Timecode Censored Netflix Version: 00:11:09
For context, here the preceding scene (contained in both versions):
Oscar has googled information on Belsnickel and reads them. As Zwarte Piet in blackface is mentioned, Stanley intervenes. Dwight comforts him by saying that he doesn't stick to every outdated tradition. Meanwhile, he is starting to type an SMS.
Oscar: This is a real thing. "Belsnickel is a crotchety fur-clad gift-giver, related to other companions of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of southwestern Germany."
Dwight: Okay, great. Seriously, you guys? Now you believe in Dwight's traditions when some Democrat looks it up on Wikipedia?
Oscar: "His partner Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter, a slave boy often portrayed in colorful pantaloons and blackface."
Stanley: Uh-uh. No, Dwight, no.
Dwight: Oh! Come on. We don't blindly stick to every outmoded aspect of our traditions. Come on! Get with the spirit of it, you guys!
Images (in both versions):
No Time Difference
Timecode Uncensored Version: 00:11:48
Timecode Censored Netflix Version: 00:11:48
After Dwight has sent his SMS and looked into the camera, there is a cut. Someone in colorful pantaloons is coming at the camera. The camera zooms out and we see Nate dressed up in colorful Zwarte Piet clothes and in blackface. We see Nate receiving Dwight's SMS. He is reading it while walking, then immediately turning around, taking off his hat and walking to his car.
After this scene, both versions continue with Pete and Erin watching "Die Hard".
Images (Uncensored version only):
Time Difference: 9 seconds
Timecode Uncensored Version: 00:17:51
Timecode Censored Netflix Version: 00:17:42
Interestingly, the second part of Nate as "Zwarte Piet" has not been censored. After we see Darryl pouring whiskey into the bowl, the camera is panning to left. We see Nate who has halfway removed his makeup. Though the upper part of his face is white, the lips and chin are still red, respectively black.
Images (in both versions):
No Time Difference