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28 May 2009 @ 07:12 pm
The Dam Busters and a dog called  
Peter Jackson is already being dogged by one tricky aspect of the Dambusters story that he will turn into a $76 million film next year – a racial slur.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson, head of the British mission that destroyed German dams in World War II, had a dog called Nigger. The dog features in the 1951 book The Dam Busters and the 1954 film of the same name – both sources for Jackson's Dambusters to be shot in Wellington and Britain next year.

Jackson said his team would tread carefully over the name but had yet to decide what to do.

"It is not our intention to offend people. But really you are in a no-win, damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't scenario. If you change it, everyone's going to whinge and whine about political correctness. And if you don't change it, obviously you are offending a lot of people inadvertently.

"We haven't made any decisions about what we'll do. Everybody asks about the dog. Everybody who we spoke to over in England was, `What are you going to call the dog? What are you going to call the dog?' We will just wait and see."

Incidentally the call sign for a successful raid was also Nigger.

My feelings? No offense was meant originally, even in the seventies - and possibly later you could buy clothes in 'Nigger-Brown'. To take offence for something in yesteryear's context by applying todays standards is just silly.
anghara13anghara13 on May 28th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, there is no point in trying to rename the dog, or pussyfoot around the fact that what was acceptable in that day and age is no longer considered appropriate.

That one word, even now, should be able to invoke such passionate feelings in a whole world full of people is, to be quite blunt, absolutely ridiculous. Lets just grow the hell up people and put the past exactly where it belongs. BEHIND US.

Let's not have yet another generation blighted by remembrances of a centuries old issue. Yes, yes, slavery was bad, the oppression of a whole race of people was bad, but you know what? It's over. Let, it, go. Before we all look like idiots running round pandering to a bunch of politicallly correct namby-pambies who can't call a spade a spade because in some language or another it means digging implement. Sheesh!!!!

Yes, I am opinionated. No, I don't care what you call me, I am entitled to an opinion. And, by the way, I don't give a rat's arse what colour you are, what god you follow, or what football team you support, whether you're male, female, or something in between, gay, straight, bi, differently abled or anything - we're all just one thing.

eullipia on May 28th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
I think I love you! I particularly love your lines:-

Let's not have yet another generation blighted by remembrances of a centuries old issue. Yes, yes, slavery was bad, the oppression of a whole race of people was bad, but you know what? It's over.

Thanks for the comment. Being opinionated is one proof of being able to think originally.
zephret on May 28th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
Couldn't have said it better myself.
tyrell on May 28th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
I'm split on this. For a start: it's not over. That slur is still used, and racism is still... just about everywhere. It's less noticeable in the more liberal cities, sure, but it's still an issue even there.

And we're much MORE sensitive to the word today. It's far more likely to cause offence. I think it's very much a case of "they could say it then, but not now."

On the other hand, if they're going for historical accuracy then representing the attitudes of the time is a legitimate thing to do. They'll get flak for it, but it's easy enough to defend yourself when you're putting the reality on the screen.

Definitely damned either way, but I think it's a case of it being *less* acceptable now.
anghara13anghara13 on May 29th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
Part of the problem though is the not being able to deal with the issue and MOVE ON. Sheesh, it was hard being an independend woman just one hundred years ago now, but hey, we've got beyond that!

I never use the word myself, but other people in my son's hearing have, and he has used it on occasion, giving rise to a number of letters being sent home to me about my son's "racist attitudes". Yes, of course, using the word can be offensive, but hey, he obviously doesn't know what it means, because he used it at two white kids. Can we just, get some perspective?

Oh, and racism is just as prevalent going in the opposite direction, or between ethnic minorities, it is not just white oppression anymore. So as far as I can tell, if we continue to let political correctness run the show we're all screwed eventually for something.
eullipia on May 29th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
I suppose if they used the word within rap dialogue it might seem less 'offensive'.
eullipia on May 29th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
It's less acceptable if used today in a racially denigrating way. In the film it isn't used as such and at the time it wasn't. I see no reason to bring the past to trial in the present. There is something maiden-auntish and middlebrow about it.
tyrell on May 29th, 2009 09:21 am (UTC)
I'm not sure modern audience are aware of it in anything BUT a racially denigrating way. I dislike the word intensely, no matter what the intent behind it.

I'm probably putting this across a bit strongly, I'll be fine with it in the film, but I definitely didn't have the "oh, we've all moved on" reaction that some commenters did.
anghara13: Purple Horsesanghara13 on May 30th, 2009 09:36 am (UTC)
There are any number of words that I dislike with a fervour, and would never use myself, this is just one of them, but the problem is not so much that it now has that racially denigrating overlay, but that the reactions of the state and the press to it's use are just so extreme as to be beyond belief. The reason for this hyper-reactionary status though is exactly that one racially denigrating overlay.

Never mind that originally the word was one thing, now it is only and entirely something else. This to me is a corruption, a censorship on the English Language and at the end of the day, can only prove detrimental to human relationships if it is allowed to continue to have that effect.

These things need to be dealt with, and then put back in the past where they belong. Surely we have sufficient equality and diversity legislation in this day and age, we just need to educate ourselves and our children better about the use of words, preferably within context, and how to avoid giving offense. Hell, if more people did that I reckon the global crime rate would drop like a stone!
Zoefruitcake: Knitted tigerzoefruitcake on May 29th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
To take offence for something in yesteryear's context by applying todays standards is just silly.

I agree.

I think if I had to change the name I'd just change the first letter to T. That wouldn't offend anyone. Apart from tigers, maybe.
ijournalerijournaler on May 29th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
While some dramas - like those of Shakespeare or the Ancient Greeks - can be produced in a contemporary setting because they are about plot and human nature The Dam Busters is about a particular historical episode and only makes sense in the context of the time, unfashionable attitudes included.
eullipia on May 29th, 2009 09:17 am (UTC)