Old Doctor Who Episodes Spark Racist Complaints For British Streaming Service
As Doctor Who buzz was beginning die down following the end of Season 12, the British series has found itself back in the headlines again thanks to British streaming service BritBox. Unfortunately, it’s for the wrong reasons as the streamer has come under fire after making available a slew of classic episodes that were deemed racist by modern television standards.
The six-part series, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” was available on BritBox with no disclaimer or warning about its material. In the series, the Doctor is pitted against a Chinese stage magician, played by white British actor John Bennett. Bennett utilizes “yellowface” in order to play the role, and portrays the villain in an offensive manner many would equate to “Fu Manchu.” Characters in the episode also make broad and harmful generalizations about the Chinese and their culture, and phrases like “yellowfaced” and “inscrutable chinks” are used.
“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925
I’m surprised this issue hasn’t come up sooner on other networks (maybe it has and I’m not paying attention).
A couple years ago I was watching the John Wayne movie, El Dorado and was horrified by a scene where James Caan did a cliched, racist impersonation of a Chinese man. I was embarrassed and wished he scene would end quickly. Sadly, other John Wayne movies (McClintok and True Grit immediately come to mind) have similar issues.
If you think about it, many (if not most) old Western movies have the same kind of issues. I have a couple Navajo friends who really don’t like westerns because of the way they portray Native Americans.