We’ve all seen them, articles from the Corporate Media, or rags such as The Huffington Post, or Slate, condemning the actors and actresses of yore for being insensitive to non-whites. We’ve seen how they hold historic figures to today’s politically correct standards, and rush to cancel some of the greatest luminaries in Western theater. Time after time, we read these reports – and dismiss them as unreasonable, as they usually are. Black face is not necessarily a symptom of hate or oppression.
But is it possible that sometimes those old-time movies really did go too far? Is there any point where readers of this blog would admit that the actors in question should have shown more respect for non-whites?
I submit to you one case that would be a good candidate for this: The Episode of The Spider Woman (1943). Here we see Sherlock Holmes describing an African Pygmy as:
Poison-immune, little, dog-like, faithful to their master, able to creep through the smallest openings, the perfect instrument for the spider-murders… Pygmy!
… and that creature in the suitcase
Probably not the best choice of words to describe somebody who is, after all, a fellow human being. If I were a Pygmy, I’d probably laugh at this. I certainly wouldn’t be outraged, or call for the cancellation of Sherlock Holmes, but it wouldn’t shock me if somebody was offended by it.
What do you think?