These people really are insane

To the generation that grew up watching Flash Gordon, Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless was one of the great screen villains.

He was also a “discriminatory stereotype”, according to the British Board of Film Classification. The censor has added the warning to its rating for Flash Gordon, saying the casting of a white actor in the role could be considered “dubious if not outright offensive”.

Ming hailed from the Planet Mongo but, the BBFC said, was clearly of East Asian origin.

The organisation will conduct research in the New Year to establish if other old films contain racial stereotypes that need to be caveated for modern audiences.

Note what they’re saying.

Not that the evil and merciless Easterner is a racial stereotype and thus offensive. But that a white actor paying a stereotype is offensive.

This is where we take off and dust from space, isn’t it?

37 thoughts on “These people really are insane”

  1. The woke always pick a minor or indirect thing to complain about. Witness the case of Knowland and Eton where the college got a complaint about a previous course by him (not the one that got him suspended). In this other one he was talking about the Vikings with all the rape murder and pillaging. But what the actual complaint was about was the use of the term “mansized” which was used in a New Statesman review of a book used in the course.

  2. Remember the scene in Father Ted where he was trying to suck up to Craggy Islands Chinese community by giving a lecture with slides on Chinese history? His depth of knowledge was confirmed by showing a picture of Max von Sydow in full costume while Ted expounds “Ah Yes–Ming. One of your greatest emperor’s..”

    These morons must have been to the same Toytown Uni.

  3. ken,

    Yes, but no-one watching it in the 1970s considered that. It’s not like Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu where he was clearly made up to look Asian.

    All of this stuff is just performative arse-covering. Look at how seriously we take racism/sexism/homophobia. It’s Flash Gordon, a film rushed out after Star Wars was massive, which has a cult following for being a bit cheesy.

  4. Ken,
    It’s a cultural artefact, but one rooted in history. It’s a rational fear of outsiders: the Japanese really did bomb Pearl Harbor and invade Hong Kong.

    Alas the days when fiction tried to impart historical & cultural knowledge are long gone. The only moral lesson imparted by TV these days is the turgid “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”.

  5. The insane bit is that the British Board of Film Classification think anyone even notices what they pronounce on. I can’t say that I have noticed their presence on the various streaming sites. The nearest they get is a press release that gets seized on by an increasingly irrelevant set of newspapers and the like.
    Now, back to the binge Alf Garnett session!

  6. SBML: I did like ‘The Longships’ when I read it. I think I’ve still got a copy of it around somewhere.

    Some violence, and a bit of off-stage rape implied, but it seems quite mild in my memory. I’d agree, the kids’d love it.

  7. Gordon’s Alive! Need some of the good green stuff to get over this guff.

    Concubine-Drink this.
    Dale-will it make me forget?
    Concubine- no. but it will make you not mind remembering.

  8. “Note what they’re saying….Not that the evil and merciless Easterner is a racial stereotype and thus offensive. But that a white actor paying a stereotype is offensive….”

    Yawn. The British Board of Film Classification is a BUREAUCRACY. What do bureaucracies do, as ably noted by Northcote Parkinson? They EXPAND THEIR REMIT.

    In this case we have a quango body who earn their money by marking films up according to their view of current social attitudes. That used to mean warning people that they might see sex or violence. No one cares about sex or violence any more – not with Pornhub and computer games that let you blow enemy bodies into scattered heaps of flesh. So what are the BBFC going to do? Voluntarily close down?

    Of course not. They are going to take on a new categorisation role and apply for an increase in the fees they charge the film industry for this ‘work’….

  9. Their warnings will be at the beginning like the anti piracy notification on tapes and disks, personally I never watched one.
    Hit play make a drink .

  10. @Lurker: it does have the benefit of a cracking Steinman theme…

    @Grikath: it’s ‘Despatch War Rocket Ajax, to bring back the bodies..’ And I didn’t even need to IMDB that!

  11. Their warnings will be at the beginning like the anti piracy notification on tapes and disks, personally I never watched one.

    That’s what HandBrake is for. That and all the other interminable DVD intros and menus.

  12. @ snag

    Different rules apply to tranny’s for “reasons” related to how persecuted they are and prone to topping themselves (almost like those with mental health issues).

  13. “Warner Oland (born Johan Verner Ölund, October 3, 1879 – August 6, 1938) was a Swedish-American actor most remembered for playing several Chinese and Chinese-American characters: Dr. Fu Manchu; Henry Chang in Shanghai Express and most notably Honolulu Police detective Lieutenant Charlie Chan. His career that included time on Broadway and numerous film appearances, including 16 Charlie Chan films. [1]”

    A serial offender.

  14. Warner Oland (born Johan Verner Ölund, October 3, 1879 – August 6, 1938) was a Swedish-American actor . . .

    Max von Sydow was Swedish. What is it with these Scandie haters?

  15. Remember doing Royal Hunt of the Sun for O level, I dread to think of how it would be taught now, all about identity politics and the colonial monsters and nothing about the characterisation and relationships between the characters. Most probably 10 pages of warnings at the start as well

  16. Brilliant by JM
    This is the last place I’d have expected to see a Jim Steinman / Pandora’s Box kind of fan
    All I wanted was a piece of the night
    I never got an equal share
    When the stars are out of sight
    And the moon is down
    The natives are so restless tonight

    Life ain’t fair, shares don’t get distributed equally.

  17. Its worse than that.

    They’re saying Ming – an alien – can’t be played by a white guy because the character looks sort of Asianish.

    I wonder what they make of Brian Blessed playing a Hawkman?

  18. Surprised DC didn’t have a legal go at the “Hawkman” name. Been a DC comic since the 40s on and off. Hawkman is from the Planet Thanagar where–long before coved–everyone wears ridiculous face-covering hawk-head masks. In an endless variety of ever weirder types. Why a load of aliens should be obsessed with an Earth bird-of-prey escapes me. But my comic reading days were 50 years ago now.

    Also Julia M “The Shadow” is an uneven film but ok. Best scene is on the bridge where some gangsters are about to murder a witness. The Shadow turns up–invisible because he has clouded their minds– and taunts them about their crimes “Did you think I wouldn’t know?” etc. Very atmospheric and evocative of the old pulps/radio.

  19. Flash Gordon today, tomorrow it will be that other iconic film of our day, Barbarella. Lord knows what they’ll make of Milo O’Shea’s orgasmotron.

  20. Mary Martin played Peter Pan in the 1960 eponymous TV movie.*

    Surely all prints must be burned.


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