Viewing posts tagged racism

Anxiety Satellite

The indefatigable Mr. Oliver Wake has put together and released the latest issue of the print fanzine Panic Moon.  It can be ordered here.


It contains (amongst other things) a judicious appraisal of the 'Day of the Daleks' Special Edition, a look at the way Hartnell's shade has taken to haunting the recent series, a clever thing about the way Daleks always seem to get some new physical ability in first episodes, an interesting look at the pre-Who 60s Pathfinders serials which are now out on DVD and an excellent analysis of 'The Sun Makers' which identifies some of its roots, going beyond the usual stuff about Bob Holmes being annoyed by a tax bill.

Once again, I've contributed two articles.  In one, I identify a blind spot in the lefty-liberal creds of 'Colony in Space' and try to tease out some of implications of this, leading me to briefly consider something badly amiss with liberalism itself.  In another article, I have a good old ramble about the various ways Doctor Who has creatively misrepresented evolution, often using it was a way of re-encoding mythic themes or addressing political concerns... though there is, I ...

It was such a massive task to establish the Roman race

"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre.

*

Colonial system, public debts, heavy taxes, protection, commercial wars, &c., these children of the true manufacturing period, increase gigantically during the infancy of Modem Industry. The birth of the latter is heralded by a great slaughter of the innocents. Like the royal navy, the factories were recruited by means of the press-gang.
*

With the development of capitalist production during the manufacturing period, the public opinion of Europe had lost the last remnant of shame and conscience. The nations bragged cynically of every infamy that served them as a means to capitalistic accumulation.  ...[I]t is trumpeted forth as a triumph of English statecraft that at the Peace of Utrecht, England extorted from the Spaniards by the Asiento Treaty the ...

Going Native

Avatar is progressive in many ways.  It represents racism towards native people as stemming from imperialism.  It notices that imperialism is about capital accumulation, indicting a corporation along the way.  It shows an 'economy' in which spines can be repaired, but only if you have the dosh.  It metaphorically revisits the violent imperialist foundations of America - and any such settler colonial state - in a forthrightly disapproving way.  It supports the right of native people to violently resist conquest, even when Americans are doing the conquering.

Fair enough.

However, it is also deeply patronising towards native people.  To quote David Brooks' article in the New York Times:

It rests on the stereotype that white people are rationalist and technocratic while colonial victims are spiritual and athletic. It rests on the assumption that nonwhites need the White Messiah to lead their crusades. It rests on the assumption that illiteracy is the path to grace. It also creates a sort of two-edged cultural imperialism. Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.

And, even better, here's ...

The Dark Half

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: 'Tomb of the Cybermen' is really very racist.

The only black guy in the cast of characters is a huge, musclebound, grunting, largely-mute, henchman/thug who is shown apparently delighting in his ability to inflict violence.  His speech - when it occurs - is monosyllabic, stilted and semi-coherent, with tenses that veer all over the place.  He refers to himself in the third person: "they shall never pass Toberman!".  Apparently, he was originally supposed to be deaf (with a visible hearing aid).  Some people say that this would have contextualised his behaviour.  I say it would just have made this story offensive about deaf people as well as black people.  Toberman's main positive personality trait seems to be unquestioning, doglike loyalty to his 'mistress'.

His 'mistress' is a woman called Kaftan.  This really can't be said enough.  Her name is 'Kaftan'. 

I mean... fuck.

She's evil.  The actress playing Kaftan - Shirley Cooklin - gives her a nice line in insolent sneering, ruthlessness and fanatical, unblinking stares.  The actress has been darked up.  Common practice in 60s (and 70s) TV ...

Victory of the Icon

In the course of preparing myself [to play Churchill in a biopic]… I realized afresh that I hate Churchill and all of his kind. I hate them virulently. They have stalked down the corridors of endless power all through history…. What man of sanity would say on hearing of the atrocities committed by the Japanese against British and Anzac prisoners of war, ‘We shall wipe them out, every one of them, men, women, and children. There shall not be a Japanese left on the face of the earth’? Such simple-minded cravings for revenge leave me with a horrified but reluctant awe for such single-minded and merciless ferocity.

- Richard Burton. (He got banned from the BBC for writing that. Which must’ve really burned him as he lounged around in Hollywood with Elisabeth Taylor’s head in his lap.)


In ‘Victory of the Daleks’ by Mark Gatiss, Winston Churchill is depicted as a wiley and cantankerous old fox, as a twinkly-eyed yet determined fighter against the Nazi menace, as a moral force, as an impish and roguish but unequivocally good man. This is very much the mainstream view of Churchill, in both ‘pop culture’ and in much of the trash that ...

Economic Miracles

This is my Timelash II stuff on the subject of Graham Williams' tenure as producer... it's a bit thin because I've either posted about several stories from this era elsewhere or because I'm planning to.  Also, to be honest, some of the stories simply don't yield much grist for my mill.  That isn't to knock the Williams era, which contains some of the most politically interesting Who stories ever made (which is partly why they needed - or need - posts all to themselves).  Notice, for instance, how the stories glanced at below seem obsessed with fuel, economics and questions of prosperity vs. austerity... s'what comes of making Doctor Who in the context of the late 70s I guess...


I've written about 'Horror of Fang Rock' here and 'Image of the Fendahl' here.


'The Sun Makers'

This is from elsewhere on this blog, but it's part of a wider article.  I thought it could tolerate repeating... especially since 'Sun Makers' is a favourite of mine, for reasons which should be obvious.  I don't think, by the way, that this story has ever been more relevant than it is ...

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