The Saved by the Bell reboot has found itself on the wrong side of publicity and under intense backlash from fans of Selena Gomez after a joke about her kidney transplant on the series made all the wrong headlines. The intense media pressure has now caused the Peacock streaming service to cut the joke from the episode along with issuing an apology to the musician and actress.
This actually all began on Saturday when scores of Twitter users expressed their disappointment in the rebooted Saved by the Bell when a joke was made about the singer’s kidney transplant. The episode in question features a couple of Bayside High best friends gossiping about what’s going on in pop culture. When the student’s phones are taken away, the two friends have no way of checking their sources when it comes to their pop culture gossip and the story in question involves Gomez and who gave her the much-needed kidney she required back in 2017 to treat her Lupus. The real-life donor was Gomez’s friend and actress Francia Raisa but the characters on the show bickered that it was either the mother of ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber or fellow musician and Disney channel alum Demi Lovato. The joke goes even further when a Bayside High hallway wall reads “Does Selena Gomez Even Have A Kidney” in black graffiti. you can check out the joke in question below:
Once the episode began to make the rounds, a drove of Selena Gomez’s fans began to tweet out the phrase “RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ” to show their support for the singer. The joke was meant to showcase the importance of technology in the students’ lives but it didn’t quite land well with fans of Gomez, particularly because the kidney transplant could’ve been life or death for the singer due to her battle with Lupus. This led to Peacock issuing an apology and a donation to Gomez’s Lupus research fund:
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation in her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”
Peacock’s apology seemed to be the end of it but Selena’s real-life donor, Francia Raisa, released her own statement following all the attention and she shamed the platform for poking fun at the transplant in the episode in question:
Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall https://t.co/HIwa30PKMM
— Francia Raisa (@franciaraisa) November 28, 2020
After the backlash appeared it wasn’t going to subside, Peacock decided to remove the scenes from the episode where the characters joke about the singer’s transplant. The scenes removal were first confirmed by “Deadline.” It should be noted that Selena Gomez herself has not commented on any of this. I’m sure she will get personal attacks for not being one to take a joke but this was all of her fans mobilizing in her favor because they thought the jokes were in poor taste. When I first heard the joke I personally didn’t think it was a big deal but then I had to think that I don’t have Lupus, never have known anyone that has battled it personally, and don’t know the true risks of actually having a kidney transplant. Once I saw it from that perspective, I understood why the jokes didn’t quite land and perhaps this will make other platforms more cautious about the context of their jokes. Context does matter and I think at the end of the day the joke has to be funny in order to walk that line between being clever and offensive. The joke wasn’t funny and didn’t seem necessary. This is why the Saved by the Bell reboot has found themselves in this position and hopefully, it’s one that they can learn from.
Do YOU think it was right to remove the joke? Did YOU find the joke funny?