Viewing posts tagged tomb of the cybermen

How Curses Work 2: This Fez is Loaded

The utility to Western imperialism of depicting Arabs with the kind of culturalist discourse of modern vs. pre-modern, secularism vs. cultish religion, democracy vs. theocracy, civilisation vs. medievalism, rationalism vs. fanaticism (translated out of code: good Westerners vs. bad Arabs) that followed in the wake of the "war on terror" is obvious.

This way of constructing Arab and/or Middle Eastern cultural identities in Western art, literature, media and ideology, is very old.

Edward Said's seminal book Orientalism outlines the way in which the West has constructed the East as an exotic, romantic, cruel, sensuous, decadent, fanatical, inscrutable Other.  (...though it is occasionally weakened - in my presumptuous and insignificant opinion - by the problems underlying Foucault's notion of 'discourse', which Said utilises.)

Jack Shaheen's book Reel Bad Arabs reveals how Hollywood has vilified and dehumanized Arabs.  Here's a great short documentary demonstrating his thesis.  It's central message may not come as a surprise to you, but it's still salutary to see the evidence collated and concentrated.





Such representations of Arabs pop up in the Doctor Who story 'Pyramids of Mars' (1975) as part of the show's tactic, at that time, of raiding the motifs ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Troughtonite Revisionism

I reposted my Hartnell stuff from Timelash II pretty much as it originally appeared. I've rejigged the following Troughton stuff a fair bit, however, so you'd better read it all over again very carefully, in case you miss a syllable of my searing insight and sage wisdom.


'The Underwater Menace'

I could easily tear this story to pieces, yes? And feed the pieces to my pet octopus, yes??? But this story has sense of humour! I too have sense of humour!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

Look, if you think this story is any more silly than any other Doctor Who story... well, it isn't.

Look at the amount of thought that went into the costumes and sets. Polly spends a lot of the story with a detail from a doric column on her head! Look at the detail in which Atlantean society is depicted. There's a throne room, a temple, a lab, a hospital, a market... there are priests and acolytes, beggers and traders, slaves and workers, guards and orderlies... there are intimations of popular dislike for the forces of the state... Look at the variations in the personalities. Look at the ...

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