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Racism

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Ian Dunn
1346698.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:24 am Reply with quote

One known trope of films, particularly but not just in horror films, is that of the black character being the first one to die.

While TV Tropes does have a list of works that feature this unfortunate feature, I came across one that was absent from the list (now added). Not only that, the character itself has another racism issue.

The character in question is the black dog in The Dam Busters whose name I'm not sure I'm allowed to say. There are no BAME people in the film, and the dog is run-over half-way through the film, shortly before 617 Squadron take off - which is what happened to the dog in real-life.

Thus, not only does this dog give TV channels a headache about whether or not to air the name, it ends up obeying this disturbing meme as well.

 
Alexander Howard
1346701.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:18 am Reply with quote

It's a dog, not a person. It was of that colour and that name, and dies when it does, because that actually happened, as a historical fact.

 
suze
1346709.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:40 am Reply with quote

Whether we like it or not, that name was a common one for dogs of that colour at the time.

Peter Jackson has been "about to make, really soon, honest" a new version of the movie for over a decade, and he hired Stephen Fry to write the screenplay. Mr Fry doesn't really want to talk about whether the dog ought to be renamed, but considers that it probably has to be if the theatres of 2037 - or whenever the movie actually appears - are to show the work. Accordingly, it will be called Digger.

Does that lead us on to whether in fact, it's always the Australian who gets killed?

 
Ian Dunn
1346711.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:53 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
It's a dog, not a person. It was of that colour and that name, and dies when it does, because that actually happened, as a historical fact.


I know it is based on fact. I just find it interesting that you can argue that there are parallels between this trope, the film, and what happened.

 
crissdee
1346712.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:56 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Peter Jackson has been "about to make, really soon, honest" a new version of the movie.


I'm sure I am not alone in reeaaalllyy hoping he doesn't. It was made perfectly well the first time round. Leave it alone.

 
PDR
1346714.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:50 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
There are no BAME people in the film,


This is not true. 617sqn had quite a few minority-ethnic people in the crews, many of whom died that night. There were a large number of Canadians, a number of Australians and some kiwis. There was even a Brown (pilot of ED918 "F-Freddie"), although he was one of the canadians.

PDR

 
suze
1346730.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:58 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
I'm sure I am not alone in reeaaalllyy hoping he doesn't. It was made perfectly well the first time round. Leave it alone.


You are undoubtedly not alone, but Peter Jackson reckons that a new version would be more accurate that the original. That's partly because they didn't have CGI in 1955, and partly because some of the technical details of the mission were classified at the time but aren't any more.

The rights to make a new movie are apparently owned by the estate of the late Sir David Frost, who bought them from Mel Gibson about fifteen years ago after Mr Gibson decided not to make the movie. Sir David engaged Peter Jackson to make the movie, but the terms are such that if the movie doesn't get made then at some point the rights revert to the estate of the late Paul Brickhill who wrote the original novel. Mr Jackson won't say in public precisely when that point is, but he did admit in 2018 that it wasn't very many years in the future.

 
PDR
1346746.  Fri Apr 24, 2020 3:15 pm Reply with quote

Pauk Brickhill's book is hopelessly inaccurate, partly due to secrecy but (IMHO mostly due to lazy research. In 2012 James Holland wrote a much more accurate book (also called "Dam Busters") and I'm rather hoping that Jackson's movie (if it ever appears) will owe more to Holland's book than Brickhill's. Amongst other things it covers the detail of what was originally the main project - 618sqn's Mosquitoes with the bouncing anti-shipping weapon called Highball (which was so hideously misrepresented as an air-to-ground missile in "Mosquito Squadron").

PDR

 
bobwilson
1347088.  Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:28 pm Reply with quote

Can we just put the original film into context regarding the alleged “racism”?

Firstly, I can see no circumstances under which this film can be included within the margins of “first character to die is black”. I can’t be bothered to explain the huge failings in logic which would need to be used in order to even to begin to justify such a ludicrous claim.

More importantly, if anything, the naming of the dog as “Nigger” should be claimed as a cultural icon to anything approaching “black liberation”. Sing if you’re glad to be called Nigger might not be so snappy as a Tom Robinson song, but then I’m no poet.

The word “nigger” was applied to anything black – and (naturally) later came to be applied to those of a darker skin colour, and specifically in a derogatory sense.

I’m struggling to find a suitable analogue – best I can come up with (off the top of my head):

Dwarf – technically means a person accosted by dwarfism. Most notable characteristic is reduced size. Hence “White Dwarf star”, for example. Sometimes also used to compare alleged intellectual inferiority, or other cultural comparison.

Will Red Dwarf be considered a cultural relic of which we should be embarrassed for having “Dwarf” in the title. To be renamed what? And will there be arguments about the question as to whether the series was ironically titled to reflect the “battle of the little man” against “the establishment”.

The dog’s name is “Nigger” – that’s the end of it. Don’t like it – don’t watch (or make) the film.

 
Chaniphis
1365310.  Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:54 pm Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:

The word “nigger” was applied to anything black – and (naturally) later came to be applied to those of a darker skin colour, and specifically in a derogatory sense.


Back in the UK some years ago I visited the "Black Country Museum" and no, that is not where I am going with this... Well, I will go back sometime...OK OK.
Well, in an impeccably rebuilt, locally sourced section of the living museum's living museum, a small ironmongers was filled with an impressive array of genuine 1900+'s Ironmongers stock that included a tin of paint "Nigger Brown". Now I am no real fan of that word, no, not brown, but I hate with a passion the thought of insulting someone or using said word to establish a hierarchy via a subjugating epithet such as... yeah. My late father told me that "N. Brown" was a much used colour in Women's shoes or leather wear in his younger years 1930-1950's. Did any of the folks we assume would have been offended by it, get offended by it? If no, what has changed? Have we decided to act mortified at its use to atone for the sins of our forebears? Offendees, have they just put their foot down of late? Good thing if they have, if it causes distress.

 
Jenny
1365394.  Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:07 am Reply with quote

I think you may find that the people who were not offended were generally white people.

 
CB27
1365401.  Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:21 am Reply with quote

The issue is that the word itself was based on the original Spanish word, which itself came from the Latin word for black - Niger. Because of this it was a perfectly sensible word to use, without thinking of using it as a slur or anything else.

The idea of it becoming a derogative word seems to have grown in the Southern States in the early 19th century, but wasn't universally accepted and used as a derogative word by all of the US and other countries until several decades later.

Ironically, it seems that the Abolitionist movements in the mid 19th century helped popularise the word as being used in a derogatory way because they championed the use of "colored" (which is itself wrong on at least a couple of levels), and it seems people against abolition decided to avoid the word "colored" to spite them.

As an interesting aside, the countries of Niger and Nigeria owe their name to the Niger River, and Niger doesn't come from the Latin word for Black, it comes from local languages, and could mean "flowing waters", "great river", etc, based on which language you wish to use.

 
suze
1365424.  Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:50 pm Reply with quote

It's probably Tamasheq (endonym Tafaɣist).

Our old friend Pliny the Elder mentions the river, although he thought it was part of the Nile, and so does Ptolemy. Neither of them ever actually went that far south and west, but the Spanish writer known as Leo Africanus (probably) did.

All three use names similar to Niger, and Leo asserts that the folk of Timbuktu call it Ger ni Ger ("river of rivers"). Since the Tamasheq word for a river is now written as ɣer, this certainly makes sense.

 

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