Viewing posts tagged racism

How Curses Work

We've all seen him.  He's swarthy, usually (though not always) with a dark beard.  He's often wearing a fez (no, I'm not going to say it) and robes of some kind.

A fanatic.  And friend.


Sometimes, he leaves his home desert and comes to England.  He may be dressed in Western clothes and live in a house with Western furnishings, but he's got a secret room, or a shrine, or a sanctum behind a billowing curtain, in which he keeps his infernal idols amidst clouds of suffocating incense.

He's...

(cue dramatic music)


...the Egyptian Fanatic!

When he comes to England, he becomes the mirror image of the English Explorer Who Has Just Returned from Egypt (henceforth, the Explorer).  This man goes to Egypt for the love of antiquities and discovery, and comes back enchanted and bewitched by the place (by the place, mind, not the people); filling his big, wood-panelled home with Egyptiana.  The question of whether the Explorer has any right to this Egyptiana is raised only by the Egyptian Fanatic in England (henceforth, the Fanatic).

The Fanatic has come to England from his native land in search of something, some inscrutable justice ...

White as Snowy

I'm sure I'm giving you all the impression that I'm a kind of obsessed stalker when it comes to China Miéville, but everyone should read his latest blog post.  It's about the recent decision by the Belgian Supreme Court to reject the application by Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo...

to have Tintin in the Congo declared unacceptable under the Belgian race relations law.  However, he had made clear for years that he would be satisfied if, as in Britain, the book was published with a visible warning, a reminder of the context in which it was written (maybe even of the toxic ideology enshrined within). What Mondondo wanted was an official recognition that this text was a spitting in his face. That it came down to what was always clearly a nuclear option was due to the steadfast refusal of the publishers to countenance this - and thereby take responsibility for what they publish. The Belgian establishment went to cultural war, & it did so not for free speech, but for their right not to apologise for racist slander.
When human rights lawyer David Enright asks for the book to be sold as an adult work, while ...

Law & Order: Blame the Victims Unit

I bought my Mum a DVD Box set of Law & Order for Xmas. 

Sat with her today and watched a few episodes. 

The first disc had one of L&O's occasional 'race' episodes. Like every previous 'race' episode, this one portrayed black people as hysterical, touchy, unreasonable, and unjustifiably obsessed with racism. 

As always in L&O, the defence attorney was slimey, unscrupulous and cynically playing the race card. And, as always, there's a black politician who is a ruthless demagogue using the issue of race further his career. 

The only people in the story to be impartial, ethical and reasonable were the police and prosecutors.  Poor them, they spend the whole episode battling hysterical black people who fantasize non-existent racism everywhere and, by demanding special treatment, create racism themselves.

So, no disrespect to my Mum, fuck off Law & Order.

The Black & White Era

Readers of this blog (all 12 of them... on a good day) might be forgiven for thinking I do nothing but obsess over the politics of Doctor Who.  Undoubtedly, I do do that, and far too much of it.  However, in my defence, I will say that most of what I post here is the product of long-term, off-and-on, occasional, when-I-get-the-chance pondering and tinkering.  My last post, for instance, had been loitering in the 'Draft' category for months, getting steadily longer and more tendentious, before I posted it.  I spend a lot of the rest of my time thinking about and doing other stuff.  However, my practice of letting my 'essays' (I hate calling them that, but what else can I call them?) percolate means that I'm very bad at reacting quickly.  However, there are some things to which I desperately want to react quickly because I care about them so much... usually because they make me so ANGRY.

Luckily, there are people out there who

a) broadly share my political perspective,

b) are much cleverer and better informed than me, and

c) can react quickly.

So, on the subject of the recent ...

The Surplus Population

It's getting near Christmas.  Christmas means Dickens.  Doctor Who has 'done' Dickens twice in recent years... on both occasions, the show has travestied Dickens' most famous Christmas story A Christmas Carol.  Last year we were given that Moffat-penned obscenity that shared its title.  He transmuted the tale into a gleefully cynical celebration of hubris, casual sexism, complacency and hypocrisy.  But Moffat was following a trail already blazed.

Back in 2005, Mark Gatiss riffed on the same story (which is about a selfish man who is made to realise that he owes the world a debt, only to find himself transformed by that knowledge) and turned it into a parable about how helping the apparently needy is dangerous folly stemming from thoughtless guilt... because the apparently needy (even 'foreign' refugees, running from the devastating effects of a war they didn't start) will probably want to swamp you and steal your world.

Once I'd realised (with help from others more immediately perceptive than myself) what 'The Unquiet Dead' was actually about, I became very critical of it.  However... as time passes... I begin to think I've been overly critical of Gatiss.  Perhaps even a tad unfair to ...

Balanced and Objective

The BBC doing what it does best: "In Iran's iconography of villainy, Britain holds a special place. The UK is seen as the mastermind behind the overthrow of previous Iranian governments. Conservative hardliners believe Britain has in its blood the desire to decide who rules Iran."  Textbook stuff from James Reynolds "BBC Iran correspondent".

Make it all a matter of opinion: "is seen as".  Put it down to someone at the so-called 'extreme': "hardliners".  Pathologise the unacceptable view, make it sound like childish paranoia, sneer at it under your hand: "Iran's iconography of villainy".

Fact is, if people in Iran feel that way about us, they are justified.  The British government, lead by Winston Churchill, were the original movers in the plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mossadegh, because he wanted to nationalise the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which funnelled oil profits out of Iran to Britain (in other words, he had the temerity to think that Iranians should benefit from Iranian resources).  Churchill put up the money.  The CIA took over the plot.  They hired mobsters and Nazi collaborators in Iran.  CIA agents started riots.  They started ...

Things Fall Apart

Here's a round-up of my Timelash II on Season 18.  I was holding this (and some of the stuff about Seasons 19-21) back because I was going to rework it into something bigger, but that isn't happening (too much else to do), so...


The Leisure Hive

Bidmead's script tinkerings somewhat dilute the essential idea of a leisure planet in favour of wannabe-big-conceptual stuff... which is pretty dull and lumbering, if we're honest.

The planet fails to convince as a leisure resort, which kind of undercuts all the lengths they go to to stress that the whole race have become employees of a going concern. All that boardroom stuff where they discuss investments suddenly looks redundant. What's it there to contextualise?

The stylistic overhaul is huge, ambitious and largely successful. There's a new willingness to try stuff out. They're happy to go all dark and quiet during the scene where Timson is stalked by the West Lodge Foamasi. I particularly like the slow, melancholy opening.

Mind you, the seeds of the later-80s problems are already visible. The Doctor is now wearing a uniform, etc.

The politics is weird. The war was about... what ...

Behind the Times

Doctor Who was (and is) frequently racist in its representations.  Probably no more or less than most other cultural products of our society, but nonetheless...

Now, to deal with the banalities first, I don't accuse anybody involved in making the show of being deliberately racist.  I don't generally know much about their opinions.  When you hear about their views, you tend to hear that they were liberals or soft-lefties.  People reminiscing about working with Hartnell tend to raise his right-wing opinions on race (and other things) as though they were considered unusual.  And that's not the issue anyway.  I'm not interested in making personal attacks on this or that writer or producer. 

The show started nearly 50 years ago... so a lot of it is old, dated, the product of vanished days.  This is often raised by fans who see the problems in certain Who stories but, understandably, are eager to defend them.  Nobody wants to feel that something they love is tainted by racism - that terrible bogey word that stops people thinking clearly because, like so many important words, it's been systematically stripped of its context and has ...

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