Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Peter Jackson: Sly Racist Hiding Behind Classic Tales?

IS PETER JACKSON A SLY RACIST hiding behind so-called "classic" stories or is he unaware that his movies are soaked in racist imagery and the logic of genetic determinism? I know I've felt discomfort and even outright outrage watching Jackson's movies and just couldn't put my finger on the reason. Although I do enjoy the spectacle and adventure, I've always found my experience marred by the blatant racism in the stories and plots.

Kwame McKenzie in an opinion piece on TimesOnline writes that "King Kong feeds into all the colonial hysteria about black hyper-sexuality" and that "The story also touches the raw nerve of the Darwin-based association between black men and apes." He further points out that "...The only major black character was the strong caring second officer to the ship's captain - the good and dutiful slave stereotype" and that if he had not been with his transfixed son he "would have been out of the door soon after the wide eyed, homicidal, half dressed, blacker than black natives of Skull Island started cavorting one hour in."

And here's John Yatt writing on The Two Towers in the Guardian from 2002:

"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."

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