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?