Sunday, May 27, 2018

Racist name of Dam Busters dog will not be censored in 75th anniversary screenings

The racist name of a dog in The Dam Busters will not be censored in new screenings of the 1955 film, which has been restored to mark the 75th anniversary of the mission it depicts.

The classic British movie features a black Labrador called N****r, a mascot of the RAF 617 squadron, whose pilots dropped Barnes Wallis’s “bouncing bomb” on German dams during the Second World War.

The dog’s name led the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to toughen the film’s rating from U to PG last month ahead of screenings in 400 cinemas across the country.

The regulator said the stricter classification was intended to “send a clearer warning to parents that the film contains discriminatory language of a nature that will be offensive to many”.

The name has previously been censored for TV broadcasts, while some American versions have used dubbing to edit the dog’s name to Trigger.

There are also plans to rename the labrador in Peter Jackson’s long-awaited remake.

But StudioCanal, the distributor of Michael Anderson’s 1955 original, confirmed it would play unedited at the anniversary screenings.

“While we acknowledge some of the language used in The Dam Busters reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find offensive, for reasons of historical accuracy we have opted to present the film as it was originally screened,” it said in a statement.

The dog, RAF wing commander Guy Gibson’s pet, features regularly in the film. His name, taken from Gibson’s real-life labrador, becomes a plot device when it is is adopted by the squadron as a codeword for a key bombing target.

Stephen Fry, who has written the screenplay for Jackson’s remake, said in 2011 that the dog would be renamed in his script. He told the BBC there was “no question in America that you could ever have a dog called the N-word”.

He added: “It’s no good saying that it is the Latin word for black or that it didn’t have the meaning that it does now – you just can’t go back, which is unfortunate.

“In the film, you’re constantly hearing ‘N-word, N-word, N-word, hurray’ and Barnes Wallis is punching the air. But obviously that’s not going to happen now. So Digger seems OK, I reckon.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And so the 30-year professor that simply sang along to a song using the word and lost his job? The poor girl called up on stage to also sing along to a rap ditty using the ever-so-powerful N word to her everlasting social media shame?

Anyone like to clarify when non-POCs can use the dreaded word and when they cannot?