Judy Garland and Ray Bolger singing


‘Shoutout to Gen Z for teaching me this’: Why Judy Garland in blackface is suddenly trending

Many were quick to contextualize Judy Garland’s blackface performance. The discourse has led many to question users’ priorities.


Adrienne Hunter

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 19, 2023

An X (formerly known as Twitter) post about a blackface performance by Judy Garland in 1938’s Everybody Sing has stirred up an intense online discourse about the actress. 

On Wednesday, an X user posted a still from Everybody Sing, where Garland is in blackface, next to a still from The Wizard of Oz with the caption: “two movies. a year apart. same bitch. shoutout to Gen Z for teaching me this.” The post has received over 50 million views.


The post quickly went viral, with users quick to defend the late actress. Many argued that Garland, who was a minor, had limited agency in the decision to take the role. Users cited that she was under extreme studio control and faced child abuse. Many defended her character by mentioning that she went on to become a supporter of the civil rights movement.

Following the initial backlash, some users turned the format of the original post into a meme by posting the same text with different images. One viral tweet featured Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in Tropic Thunder, where he played an actor in blackface. 

However, many X users have defended the original post, arguing that people’s quickness to defend Garland overlooks the other issues the original post is calling attention to. Some users have also argued that the intense criticism the original post received is “curious.”

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*First Published: Aug 19, 2023, 9:37 am CDT