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View Full Version : Just when you were sick of hearing how "racist" Star Wars supposedly is....(LOTR's)



Beast
12-05-2002, 11:53 PM
Good lord, does anything popular have to immediatly bring out the morons to start screaming racial stereotypes or racism. I saw this linked to from a LOTR's site, and I think this person needs serious help. He obviously has forgotten that the fellowship is a representation of different races banding together to destroy Sauron's ring. Or the fact that the primary villians are Sauron who is never seen out of armor, and Saruman who is a crusty old white guy. It's the same stupid crap we've read before about Star Wars. Just twisted and directed twords LOTR's now. I'm all for free speech, but some people are far to stupid to have the right to it. :stupid: :(

http://film.guardian.co.uk/lordoftherings/news/0,11016,852217,00.html

Wraiths and race

What with the dark skin, broad faces and dreadlocks, it's a wonder Tolkien didn't give his baddies a natural sense of rhythm, says John Yatt, examining Middle Earth's suspect racial undertones

Monday December 2, 2002

It was the same with The Phantom Menace - I had no choice. When part of your childhood is playing down the road on a big screen with surround sound and popcorn, there's no escape. But as the wonder of discovering that there was more to New Zealand than sheep wore off, something began to worry me.
Maybe it was the way that all the baddies were dressed in black, or maybe it was the way that the fighting uruk-hai had dreadlocks, but I began to suspect that there was something rotten in the state of Middle Earth.

Perhaps Dubya's war on terror is making me a bit uneasy, or maybe it's just good old-fashioned Guardian-reading imperial guilt, but there was something about watching a bunch of pale faces setting off into the east to hack some guys with dark faces into little bits that made me feel a little queasy.

When I got home I dug out my copy of The Lord of the Rings from a box somewhere - okay, so I pulled it straight off the shelf - and found there was worse to come. The Two Towers is the story of the battle between Isengard and Rohan. In the good corner, the riders of Rohan, aka the "Whiteskins": "Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall." In the evil corner, the orcs of Isengard: "A grim, dark band... swart, slant-eyed" and the "dark" wild men of the hills. So the good guys are white and the bad guys are, erm... black.

This genetic determinism drives the plot in the most brutal manner. White men are good, "dark" men are bad, orcs are worst of all. While 10,000 orcs are massacred with a kind of Dungeons and Dragons version of biological warfare, the wild men left standing at the end of the battle are packed off back to their homes with nothing more than slapped wrists.

We also get a sneak preview of the army that's going to be representing the forces of darkness in part three. Guess what: "Dark faces... black eyes and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears... very cruel wicked men they look". They come from the east and the south. They wield scimitars and ride elephants.

Perhaps I'd better come right out and say it. The Lord of the Rings is racist. It is soaked in the logic that race determines behaviour. Orcs are bred to be bad, they have no choice. The evil wizard Saruman even tells us that they are screwed-up elves. Elves made bad by a kind of devilish genetic modification programme. They deserve no mercy.

To cap it all, the races that Tolkien has put on the side of evil are then given a rag-bag of non-white characteristics that could have been copied straight from a BNP leaflet. Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced - it's amazing he doesn't go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm.

Scratch the surface of Tolkien's world and you'll find a curiously 20th-century myth. Begun in the 1930s, published in the 1950s, it's shot through with the preoccupations and prejudices of its time. This is no clash of noble adversaries like the Iliad, no story of our common humanity like the Epic of Gilgamesh. It's a fake, a forgery, a dodgy copy. Strip away the archaic turns of phrase and you find a set of basic assumptions that are frankly unacceptable in 21st-century Britain.

But it's the same with The Attack of the Clones - I've got no choice. Maybe the fizzy pop will go to my head, maybe the Pearl and Dean music will be able to work its magic, but I'm worried that the popcorn is going to taste a bit wrong - I'm worried that childhood isn't going to be quite so much fun the second time around.

email: johnyatt@yahoo.com

MTFBWY and HH!!

Jar Jar Binks

Old Fossil
12-06-2002, 01:14 AM
This is a letter JRRT wrote in reply to a German publisher in Potsdam, dated 25 July 1938. I reproduce it here in its entirety (it is Letter #30 in Carpenter's 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). While not directly bearing on the question of "Swarthy Men" (a literary device used in fantasy before JRRT, in William Morris's "The Roots of the Mountains," for instance), it gives an interesting idea of Tolkien's attitude regarding racism:

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter..... I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by 'arisch.' I am not of 'Aryan' extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject -- which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your country, but that this should be held to apply to the subject of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its suitability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.*

I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and
remain yours faithfully,
J.R. R. Tolkien

*German 'descent, ideology' (from the "Notes")


JJB, I think if Tolkien was a racist, it was not a conscious choice; he was, after all, a man of his time (early 20th century), and a white European. There was throughout most of the first half of his life much talk in Europe and the West of racial purity, and it is doubtful that Tolkien could have escaped without some of those ideas making an impression; however, I think he believed that racism was wrong, and would say as much to anyone regarding any race. The above letter is indicative of this.

A similar instance of 'dark men' being the bad guys can be found in the Calormen of C.S. Lewis's 'Chronicles of Narnia.' Was Lewis a racist? I doubt it, no more than Tolkien. They were bigger men than that. But the idea of 'dark men' being the enemy is, I think, something imbedded in the subconscious of the white European mind: after centuries of warfare with Turkic and Arabic peoples from the East (much of it, admittedly, caused by European aggression), the idea of 'swarthy men' invading from the East was able to find its way into European literature, from Malory to Morris to Tolkien, maybe beyond.

Sorry for the lengthy reply, but few things inspire passion in me like good literary fantasy, or J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm no expert, but the Professor's life and work have had significant impressions on me and mine.

stillakid
12-06-2002, 01:28 AM
Originally posted by Twodot Tatooine
This is a letter JRRT wrote in reply to a German publisher in Potsdam, dated 25 July 1938. I reproduce it here in its entirety (it is Letter #30 in Carpenter's 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). While not directly bearing on the question of "Swarthy Men" (a literary device used in fantasy before JRRT, in William Morris's "The Roots of the Mountains," for instance), it gives an interesting idea of Tolkien's attitude regarding racism:

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter..... I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by 'arisch.' I am not of 'Aryan' extraction: that is Indo-iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject -- which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your country, but that this should be held to apply to the subject of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its suitability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.*

I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and
remain yours faithfully,
J.R. R. Tolkien

*German 'descent, ideology' (from the "Notes")


JJB, I think if Tolkien was a racist, it was not a conscious choice; he was, after all, a man of his time (early 20th century), and a white European. There was throughout most of the first half of his life much talk in Europe and the West of racial purity, and it is doubtful that Tolkien could have escaped without some of those ideas making an impression; however, I think he believed that racism was wrong, and would say as much to anyone regarding any race. The above letter is indicative of this.

A similar instance of 'dark men' being the bad guys can be found in the Calormen of C.S. Lewis's 'Chronicles of Narnia.' Was Lewis a racist? I doubt it, no more than Tolkien. They were bigger men than that. But the idea of 'dark men' being the enemy is, I think, something imbedded in the subconscious of the white European mind: after centuries of warfare with Turkic and Arabic peoples from the East (much of it, admittedly, caused by European aggression), the idea of 'swarthy men' invading from the East was able to find its way into European literature, from Malory to Morris to Tolkien, maybe beyond.

Sorry for the lengthy reply, but few things inspire passion in me like good literary fantasy, or J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm no expert, but the Professor's life and work have had significant impressions on me and mine.

I've read a lot of rebuttals in a lot of posts around here, but that one was one of best written and supported ever. It is something that I always strive to do, but I feel that this post should be held up as the standard for all discussions. Thank you! :)

Jayspawn
12-06-2002, 11:35 AM
Some very good posts. As JJB stated, just the same old racist crap aimed at Lord of the Rings and made to sound intellignet.

Sentinel18725
12-06-2002, 01:17 PM
I suppose Saruman is to be considered the ultimate "White" guy, all powerful controlling the "Black" evil men. Hey....I guess he is THE MAN. Please give it a rest people.......NOT EVERYTHING IS RACIST. Stop being sensitive and looking for something to be angry about. There are enough things to be angry about!

Eternal Padawan
12-06-2002, 08:00 PM
People really have to hunt to find racism in just about everything. But if you want to find it, you are going to find it.

Tonight's homework: Find the inherent racism in these pop culture childhood memoribilia.

Candyland
Chutes and Ladders
Ants in the Pants
Go Fish
Peanuts (Charlie Brown etc)
Garfield the cat
Strawberry Shortcake
Care Bears
The Get Along Gang

I'll be expecting your responses by Tuesday ;)

stillakid
12-06-2002, 08:10 PM
Tonight's homework: Find the inherent racism in these pop culture childhood memoribilia.

Candyland - You are penalized for landing on the black dots.

Chutes and Ladders - There is a Chute between 64 and 60 with two black girls on either end, however there are significantly more white children at the losing end of the chutes.

Ants in the Pants -

Go Fish -

Peanuts (Charlie Brown etc) - Pig Pen is looked down upon for appearing with black dirt on him.

Garfield the cat -

Strawberry Shortcake -

Care Bears -

The Get Along Gang -

Sentinel18725
12-06-2002, 09:08 PM
Wow....there are some impressive responses. I can't help you with this one. My stuff is packed up long ago:crazed:

Old Fossil
12-06-2002, 10:35 PM
Originally posted by stillakid
I've read a lot of rebuttals in a lot of posts around here, but that one was one of best written and supported ever. It is something that I always strive to do, but I feel that this post should be held up as the standard for all discussions. Thank you! :)

Thanks! I do what I can.;)

JediCole
12-08-2002, 07:15 AM
As has often been the case when I encounter a truly compelling post here, I had to take a couple of days to absorb the issues at hand and to compose a response worthy of the topic.

I have come to the conclusion that we should, in a manner of speaking, welcome the opinions expressed in the "Wraiths and Race" essay presented. This would seem on the surface a rather curious approach to the matter at hand. But the reality is that though racism will never truly die, it is certainly not welcomed with open arms or winked at and ignored like a spoiled child. We have reached a turning point in that which is racist when someone has to go to such pains to engineer racist subtext into the work of others.

Though I am by accident of birth a Caucasian and I would not deign to imagine the difficulties associated with bearing the brunt of true racism, I have observed the steady decline of overt racism in this country and others both in my own time and historically. And there can never truly be progress if there are those who prefer to encumber the strides that have been made by trying to find racial undertones in almost everything as if they were the hidden objects in a panoramic line drawing in "HIghlights for Children". There are no more seperate public restrooms or water fountains, no more racial stereotype-themed restraunts or products. Though some of the more acceptable faces remain, those on the outside of the borders of poor taste. But to truly see how far we have come as a society one need look no further than the terribly recent past. In less than a century, that which was once considered socially acceptable is downright taboo today!

That being the case, I return now to the issue of racism and Middle Earth. Though the Orcs (both in literature and on film) are swarthy, dark, and exaggerated in feature, so are many classic monsters of literature and folkloric tradition! Even the traditional monsters of Africa and pre-European Australlia are of a darker tone and given to exagerations of phyical appearance. It is the tradion of mankind, both ancient and contemporary, to picture its demons and monsters as human, yet dark and twisted. This is a tradition that is handed down from prehistory, not recent history. So the corolary begins to loose much of its strength when one explores the true origins of orcs, goblins, and other nasties of legend and folklore. And in the defense of the filmmakers, the fighting Uruk Hai take their onscreen design more from their literary descriptions than from the machinations of a racist design team. Which brings me to the question of dreadlocks. Perhaps I was the only person who saw these orcs in this manner, but to me the hair looked more like that of a horse's mane and tail than dreadlocks (and this was upon first seeing the film last year). To me the horse-like quality I saw in the hair of the Uruk Hai lent them a wild quality, something primative and beast-like. Again, this is much in the spirit of traditional monsters which are often human in form, but more animal in appearance and nature.

Upon rereading the diatribe reprinted as the subject of this post, I find that the author is struggling to discover racial subtext to support his contention. It comes down to the old adage of "if you look for something hard enough, you will find it". And when one has to go casting about to take something like Star Wars or The Lod of the Rings, strip it of its context and rearrange elements favorable to thier cause in such a way as to support their own theories, it shows that there is so little real racism, at least in the acceptable face of society, that those who feel the need to rail against it must first create the very thing they proport to fight. This is not to say that racisim is non existant. Not by a long shot. But there is enough genuine impropriety in the world that would well deserve the scrutiny of a passionate champion of justice and social equity that there is little need to seek as much out where it does not exist.

Emperor Howdy
12-09-2002, 04:26 AM
Candyland - You are penalized for landing on the black dots.

Chutes and Ladders - There is a Chute between 64 and 60 with two black girls on either end, however there are significantly more white children at the losing end of the chutes.

Ants in the Pants - The common "black" ant is not represented in the game

Go Fish - The title itself exploits "ebonics-style English" and takes a dig at the "African American" tradition of fishing for Brim at streams off the Interstate.

Peanuts (Charlie Brown etc) - Pig Pen is looked down upon for appearing with black dirt on him.

Garfield the cat - Nermal, the "dark" kitten, is an annoying attention hound....also, "Odie", the clumsy dog, makes reference to "O.D." B....as in Old Dirty Ba$tard from Wu Tang.

Strawberry Shortcake - The villian was "purple". Also, all of her friends were berries.....Huck, Blue, Rasp.....but had no "black"berry friend.

Care Bears - On the cover sleeve of the Care Bears Movie, the "brown" bear is holding a top hat and cane....an obvious reference to Al Jolson...the "white" entertainer who used to perform in "black" make-up.

The Get Along Gang - The dorky moose is "brown".

RooJay
12-10-2002, 09:21 PM
To cap it all, the races that Tolkien has put on the side of evil are then given a rag-bag of non-white characteristics that could have been copied straight from a BNP leaflet. Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced - it's amazing he doesn't go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm.[/B]

I wonder if the writer of this essay truly feels that these characteristics are synonymous with persons of african or middle-eastern descent. That's certainly not the first thing that would've come to my mind reading that description.

stillakid
12-11-2002, 11:55 AM
An excerpt that somehow seems relevant to this situation:


Plot does not magically appear with the creation of a character; Frankenstein's monster might open his eyes, but until he gets up from the table and DOES something, there is little basis for a plot. Plot comes with your characters taking action; with their interaction with others; with their traits being applied to imagined scenarios.

A few issues to consider:

PERCEPTION AND REACTION

Two men stand in line at a bank at 2:50PM.

The first, anticipating the long lines before closing, has brought a book to read and waits contentedly. He looks up from time to time, sees the tellers are working as hard as they can, that they are at the end of a long day, and feels sympathy for them. He thinks of how, when it's his turn, he'll apologize for keeping them late, compliment them on their work and show his gratitude before leaving.

The second, needing to be somewhere else by 3:00PM, stands on the line fidgeting, fuming and complaining to anyone he can find. He glares at the tellers. He sees them as privileged, getting to sit comfortably under air conditioning on this boiling day and call it a day by 3PM. He sees them as lazy, stupid, too incompetent to count money efficiently and hasten their customers off the line -- in fact, he's sure that they are deliberately stretching out their customers, so as to not have to deal with as many people and perhaps to even shut down the bank before he personally can get his turn. He catches one looking back at him and is now positive they are all doing this
just to spite him. Knowing he is being publicly made a fool of, he
is now indignant, furious. He thinks of how he'll chastise them when it's his turn; really let them have it before he leaves.

In actuality, these two men are in the exact same circumstance. It is their PERCEPTIONS OF and REACTIONS TO the circumstance that differ.

Ultimately, events and circumstance are not half as important as how characters perceive and react to them. Before you put your
characters into your story (where events and other characters are
constantly changing), you must first get a handle on how your
character might perceive and react to the world around him. You must keep this in mind constantly as you go. For instance, characters can perceive themselves as acting one way when, in fact, they are acting another. It is not uncommon in life for people to feel as if they are acting kindly while all the while treating other people harshly. The abusive boss, or abusive spouse, will not consider himself abusive, for if he did he wouldn't be able to live with himself; or, he might have a glimmer of his own abusiveness, but he might justify it to himself (i.e. the worker deserved it). Indeed, a discrepancy between a character's inner dialogue and his actions is a powerful tool to show a character out of touch with himself.

Of course, a character's perception becomes a thousand times more relevant -- can indeed define the entire work -- if he happens to be the narrator or viewpoint character.

THROUGH OTHERS' EYES

In the opening scene of 'The Godfather,' the character of Don
Corleone is established without his doing or saying a thing. He sits behind a master desk, in a room of quietly devoted supporters, while across from him a man pleads for help and forgiveness. We get to know Don Corleone simply by watching THE WAY OTHERS TREAT HIM.

Conversely, in 'Revenge of the Nerds,' the college ensemble shows us how the nerds are thought of. Yet, despite this, we grow to like and sympathize with the nerds; moreover, we grow to dislike the ensemble that treats them like nerds and to learn that it is the people casting the stigma -- not the stigmatized -- that we should dislike. This principle -- how others are thought of -- is the crux of this film (used, in this case, for comic effect). In most cases, though, the endearing of a stigmatized character to us is used for dramatic, even tragic effect, in works such as 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' or 'Slingblade.'

Sadly enough, consciously or not, we often look to see how people are treated by others to take our cue on how we should treat them. If we enter a room where everyone is bowing to a king, we will probably do the same; if we enter a town where people are keeping their distance from a mumbling, village outcast, we will probably do the same. This is what can make for a 'mob mentality,' where, if caught up in an angry, impassioned mob, you will likely allow yourself to become caught up in their cause, even if you are barely sure what it is.

This insidious human trait can rear its head in much less extreme,
everyday situations, and often does: let's say it is your first day
in a new school or office, and you observe everyone avoiding or
mocking a certain person; you, likely, will avoid him, too, if for no
other reason than not to be associated with him. Conversely, you
will also take cues on whom to respect, and might look to become
closer to such a person, if for no other reason than others might
then respect you, too. When you are more comfortable, and have been around the new environment for a while, you might take a step back from the mass consciousness and make decisions for yourself, even if they go against the grain, and decide the universal weirdo is not weird after all, and perhaps even befriend him. But on that first day, overwhelmed with people to meet, you make instant decisions as the only possible way to make distinctions. You are vulnerable to the perceptions of the masses.

The same holds true for your readers, who are all at once introduced to an entire cast of characters. They need to make decisions, and they look to take cues. Lesser writers might shove these cues down readers' throats and outright tell them what opinions to form. Better writers will introduce us to a new character by dramatizing how others act toward him. Show B, C and D taunting A in the schoolyard. Show B, C and D coming to A for advice. Show B, C and D asking A for protection. This is one preferred method, since it allows readers to come to their own conclusions, and also leaves room for interpretation and ambiguity.

The way a character is treated by others is also an opportunity to
teach us not just about our character, but also about the people
doing the treating --indeed, sometimes this is the very point. If
characters A, B and C surround character D in the schoolyard, the
point might be to show that D is the type that gets picked on -- or
it might be to show that A, B and C are bullies.

EXERCISES

Setting up Circumstance

~~ Make a list of 10 things that might elicit a reaction from your
character. For instance, if he can't swim, place him on a small,
rickety boat; if he hates loud people, force him to wait in a bar
with five loud customers behind him; if he is a jealous type, have
him show up to a party to find his wife dancing with someone else; if he is a dog lover, have someone give him a puppy for his birthday.

Choose 10 different circumstances -- negative or positive -- that
will set this character up for a peak experience.

~~ Now think of how each of these circumstances can be the core of a scene.

~~ Now choose 10 more circumstances that will set him up for a peak experience -- but are also in line with the overall theme of the work.

~~ Now think of how each of these circumstances can be the core of a scene that can help further the overall work.

Character Action List

~~ Ultimately, we must judge our characters by their actions. The
character that spends 400 pages thinking of how he hates everyone, but, with his sole action, helps an old lady cross the street, must be judged favorably. Conversely, the man who thinks of everyone with love for 400 pages, but, with his sole action, picks someone's pocket, must be judged negatively. Ironically, though, you'll often find that, based on the sheer amount of time the reader spends in a character's thoughts, he will probably still walk away with a judgment based on the thoughts, not the action.

~~ Go through the work and make a concrete list of all of a
character's positive and negative actions. Which side of the list
weighs heavier? Are you surprised to find a discrepancy between his thoughts, feelings, beliefs and his actions? How big is the
discrepancy? How can we judge this person based on his actions? Is this what you'd expected? Should you employ changes to make this character more of who you want him to be? Or should you step back and simply realize that this character is someone other than whom you'd thought him to be?

* * * * *

Noah Lukeman is the author of the best-selling 'The First Five
Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile,'
already part of the curriculum in many universities, and of the
recently published 'The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to
Life,' a selection of the Writers Digest Book Club and already a
national bestseller. He was creator of PrePub.com, one of the first
publishing rights websites, which eventually became the 'Booktracker'division of Inside.com. He is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996.

stillakid
12-11-2002, 02:40 PM
This, from the past, is also relevant here...

http://www.sirstevesguide.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=122356#post122356


http://www.bannedfilms.com

Walt Disneyís 1946 classic Song of the South is one of the few exceptions to the adage the book is better than the movie. This is because dialect is so difficult to read, but it is readily understood verbally. The book that the film is based on is called Uncle Remus, His Songs and Sayings, written by Joel Chandler Harris in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Tales about animals, resembling Aesops Fables are told by a kindly old slave named Remus. The main character of many of the tales is the stealthy and cunning and many times violent Brer Rabbit. Folklorists have demonstrated that the tales are authentic slave tales that were passed on orally on the plantations of the Old South. Many, they believe, have African origins. Harris himself confessed that he did not add or subtract anything from the slave tales, as they were transmitted to him by old slaves during his youth. To the enslaved African-American hearers of Uncle Remusí tales, the rabbit provided an acceptable outlet for the overwhelming hostility which would lead to self destruction if openly expressed. By the same token, it was impossible for Brer Rabbit tales to be printed or told publicly in the South until after emancipation .

Brer Rabbit is black from his head to his tale. His tales document one revolutionary turn of events after another. The world of superior force is undermined, but so is the notion that the meek shall inherit the earth; cunning often results in victory, but the trickster can also be tricked. Brer Rabbit exhibits the revolutionary consciousness that is necessary to survive in an oppressive system. He suggests that no order can be depended on for very long, that there are no certainties that goodness may win this week and power the next. What is certain is the need to improvise, hang loose, stay cool, avoid sticky situations, avoid rigid interpretations of events. Brer Rabbit shows that anarchy undermines all systems which mask reality. His lessons inculcate a revolutionary consciousness because they teach that no one ever needs to accept limitations on the self. While Brer Rabbit may hate, he does not hate life. In fact he glories in its manifold possibilities and its possibilities for reversal.

All of this was made acceptable to the white Southern audiences of the 1870ís and the 1940ís by the fact that while Brer Rabbit is often violent and hateful, his narrator, Uncle Remus the slave, is always loving, kind and docile. This is the very reason that Song of the South was banned in the 1960ís. It was no longer acceptable to portray a kindly docile darkey. Audiences of such sensibilities would do well to remember that Brer Rabbit is bigger than his narrator.

The Brer Rabbit tales are essentially an outlet of slave society that needed a way of overturning the antihuman structure of the slave system. They also possess a universal quality in that they offer a release for all of us who from time to time feel oppressed and that there are limits placed upon us. In reconstruction America, the closest analogy to slavery was children surrounded by an adult world of unrelenting authority, thus the popularity of Uncle Remus among white children. His tales were in Mark Twainís words the oracle of the nationís nurseries. After 35 years of immense popularity among American children, President Theodore Roosevelt remarked to Joel Chandler Harris Presidents may come and presidents may go, but Uncle Remus stays put!

Unfortunately, since the 1960ís, Song of the South has not stayed put. We have in many ways come full circle. We have returned to the days when Brer Rabbit tales may not be told. Since the mid-1960ís Song of the South has been suppressed by the shrill unthinking voices whose knee jerk reactions of suppression are, more often than not, based on their own prejudices rather than some actual racist theme in the film that they suppress. Now, due to the democratic nature of the internet, you will be able to view clips from this 1946 classic on your personal computer, even though the Motion Picture Association of America will not allow you to own it.



http://www.snopes2.com/disney/films/sots.htm
Claim: The film Song of the South has never been released on home video in the USA.

Status: True.

Origins: Song of the South, a 1946 Disney film mixing animation and live action, was based on the "Uncle Remus" stories of Joel Chandler Harris. Harris, who had grown up in Georgia during the Civil War, spent a lifetime compiling and publishing the tales told to him by former slaves. These stories -- many of which Harris learned from an old Black man he called "Uncle George" -- were first published as columns in The Atlanta Constitution and were later syndicated nationwide and published in book form. Harris's Uncle Remus was a fictitious old slave and philosopher who told entertaining fables about Br'er Rabbit and other woodland creatures in a Southern Black dialect.

Song of the South consists of animated sequences featuring Uncle Remus characters such as Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear, framed by live-action portions in which Uncle Remus (portrayed by actor James Baskett, who won a special Oscar for his efforts) tells the stories to a little white boy upset over his parents' impending divorce. Although some Blacks have always been uneasy about the minstrel tradition of the Uncle Remus stories, the major objections to Song of the South had to do with the live action portions. The film has been criticized both for "making slavery appear pleasant" and "pretending slavery didn't exist", even though the film (like Harris' original collection of stories) is set after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Still, as folklorist Patricia A. Turner writes:

Disney's 20th century re-creation of Harris's frame story is much more heinous than the original. The days on the plantation located in "the United States of Georgia" begin and end with unsupervised Blacks singing songs about their wonderful home as they march to and from the fields. Disney and company made no attempt to to render the music in the style of the spirituals and work songs that would have been sung during this era. They provided no indication regarding the status of the Blacks on the plantation. Joel Chandler Harris set his stories in the post-slavery era, but Disney's version seems to take place during a surreal time when Blacks lived on slave quarters on a plantation, worked diligently for no visible reward and considered Atlanta a viable place for an old Black man to set out for.
Kind old Uncle Remus caters to the needs of the young white boy whose father has inexplicably left him and his mother at the plantation. An obviously ill-kept Black child of the same age named Toby is assigned to look after the white boy, Johnny. Although Toby makes one reference to his "ma," his parents are nowhere to be seen. The African-American adults in the film pay attention to him only when he neglects his responsibilities as Johnny's playmate-keeper. He is up before Johnny in the morning in order to bring his white charge water to wash with and keep him entertained.

The boys befriend a little blond girl, Ginny, whose family clearly represents the neighborhood's white trash. Although Johnny coaxes his mother into inviting Ginny to his fancy birthday party at the big house, Toby is curiously absent from the party scenes. Toby is good enough to catch frogs with, but not good enough to have birthday cake with. When Toby and Johnny are with Uncle Remus, the gray-haired Black man directs most of his attention to the white child. Thus Blacks on the plantation are seen as willingly subservient to the whites to the extent that they overlook the needs of their own children. When Johnny's mother threatens to keep her son away from the old gentleman's cabin, Uncle Remus is so hurt that he starts to run away. In the world that Disney made, the Blacks sublimate their own lives in order to be better servants to the white family. If Disney had truly understood the message of the tales he animated so delightfully, he would have realized the extent of distortion of the frame story.

The NAACP acknowledged "the remarkable artistic merit" of the film when it was first released, but decried "the impression it gives of an idyllic master-slave relationship". Disney re-released the film in 1956, but then kept it out of circulation all throughout the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s. In 1970 Disney announced in Variety that Song of the South had been "permanently" retired, but the studio eventually changed its mind and re-released the film in 1972, 1981, and again in 1986 for a fortieth anniversary celebration. Although the film has only been released to the home video market in various European and Asian countries, Disney's reluctance to market it in the USA is not a reaction to an alleged threat by the NAACP to boycott Disney products. The NAACP fielded objections to Song of the South when it premiered, but it has no current position on the movie.

Perhaps lost in all the controversy over the film is the fact that James Baskett, a Black man, was the very first live actor ever hired by Disney. Allegedly, though, Baskett was unable to attend the film's premiere in Atlanta because no hotel would give him a room.

Last updated: 12 July 1997

JediCole
12-22-2002, 11:20 AM
I watched my newly acquired Fellowship of the Ring DVD set (at least the extended movie part) last night. This thread was on my mind as I watched anything and everything to do with the fighting Uruk Hai.

Dreadlocks?!

As I stated in my earlier post, the hair on these creatures spoke more to me of something akin to horse hair. Only in a couple of shots does the hair even seem be be bunched up, usually in a muddied way, that might at first glance appear to be something akin to dreadlocks. However, in almost every shot, the hair of these orcs continues to give the impression of a horse's mane or tail. Long, straight, and flowing, if course and heavy.

The reason the classification of the hair as it appears on film is a sticking point is that the author of the diatribe that accuses the author and filmmakers of racism takes great pains to point out the alleged dreadlocks as one of the strongest pieces of evidecne in making the case. However, given that keen observations prove otherwise, it simply underscores my point that when one looks hard enough, they find what they seek. The author of the essay on obvious racism in LOTR could not find enough emphirical evidence to support the case, so fell back on conjecture, anicdotal evidence, and even misinterpretation of the facts so as to establish a foundation for the points being made in the article.

Ultimatly, the arguement loses all of its credibility when it is founded only in an attempt to turn what is realy there into something that will prop up otherwise meaningless points of contention. Though some here took up the challenge to find the inherant racial undertones in childhood favorites of the recent past in a tongue in cheek vein, the point that is made by those "findings" is that if you want to imbue racial undertones into anything, you can certianly find a way to make it happen. I'll never be able to look at Go Fish in the same way again!

Jedi Master Silas
12-22-2002, 07:00 PM
People need to shut the flock up and get over it. I'm sick of the race game period.

2-1B
01-12-2008, 05:48 PM
Honestly, I'm surprised there wasn't more controversy regarding the undertones between The Hobbits.

And I didn't realize until now that Old Fossil used to be Twodot Tattooine. Curious.

Jargo
01-14-2008, 03:56 PM
I'm sick of people reading inuendo into literature that clearly isn't there. I wholeheartedly agree with jedi master silas.

bigbarada
01-14-2008, 05:15 PM
I believe that someone who watches a movie like Star Wars and sees "racist undertones" is probably more guilty of being a racist than George Lucas.

JON9000
01-22-2008, 12:33 PM
I believe that someone who watches a movie like Star Wars and sees "racist undertones" is probably more guilty of being a racist than George Lucas.

Come on, Star Wars is racist as Hell, particularly in the OT. Every single Imperial Officer has a British accent. It's like they are trying to say all White British dudes are imperialists! I won't stand for it, nor will the British Anti-defamation League, and neither should you!!!

stillakid
01-22-2008, 12:34 PM
I'm sick of people reading inuendo into literature that clearly isn't there. I wholeheartedly agree with jedi master silas.

What did you mean by that? :sur:


:lipsrsealed:

El Chuxter
01-22-2008, 12:35 PM
Yeah!

And why does Leia have an American accent when she's fighting the Imperials, and is only taken seriously by the Imperial rulers when she badly fakes an English accent?

BountyHunterScum
01-22-2008, 02:46 PM
I could b-tch about SW's portrayal of white people being nazi's in the empire.....hahahaha.

Kidhuman
01-22-2008, 03:28 PM
And I didn't realize until now that Old Fossil used to be Twodot Tattooine. Curious.

I didnt realize it either until the 2nd and third post

2-1B
01-22-2008, 08:30 PM
I could b-tch about SW's portrayal of white people being nazi's in the empire.....hahahaha.

but will you ?