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Author Topic: Darkie's Mob  (Read 2176 times)

milstar

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #30 on: 01 May, 2021, 10:17:26 PM »

I think we've got crossed wires here.  My points have largely been about how media is talked about and how we, the audience, shouldn't fail to acknowledge or be dismissive of problematic elements.  Something I think you and most others (I don't feel I can say everyone) agree with.  Maybe it was largely a point that didn't need making, yet I felt the need anyway.

I've already wasted most of today trying to be composed in the face of a serious topic that's becoming increasingly relevant and uncomfortable for me.  I would have liked to have addressed some additional points you made, milstar and really clarify what I'm trying to get across. 

I don't have the luxury of not being affected by bigotry in media, real life and online and I find BPP's posts so troubling that I feel I should be very cautious about talking openly and frankly about these issues.  Even debating with myself whether I should post this and not just let it go without comment.  So I don't think I'll be continuing with this discussion.

I hope you find enjoyment in Darkie's Mob if you can track down a copy, Milstar.

Yes, thanks Pictsy. One day I'll get the copy of Darkie's Mob, I reserve my judgement 'til then on the book, so I can't say anything more about it. I believe people here are good people, who despise racism in all its form. Sometimes perhaps in various sundry discussions we disagree, or perhaps sometimes they poorly phrased what they meant, but I think they are good people.
Anyway, I started this thread to ask forum members about their impressions on the Darkie's Mob. I never imagined that the discussion would steer in totally different direction.
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Tjm86

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #31 on: 02 May, 2021, 07:16:10 AM »
You know, following this debate has been interesting as a lot of valid points have been raised.  Arguing that there is a danger in ignoring problematic aspects such as racism in a piece of art even if it reflects the sensibilities of a different time seems valid to me. 

You can see how a lot of media from the period portrayed attitudes towards race and ethnicity that even at the time were causing problems.  Arguing that we should ignore them because they reflected the attitudes of a different age?  That does seem to me to be a slippery slope. 

One aspect of this debate does, to my mind, need consideration as well though.  One feature of conflict is the dehumanising of the enemy.  As has been observed, names such as Fritz or Jerry do not have the racial connotations that names such as Nip or Jap do.  That said, there were a range of representations of Germans during both wars that reduced them as a people.

This is not attempting to defend this trend.  As I say, I agree with the general overall sentiment of the debate.  Accepting and glossing over these elements of DM, or any cultural artefact for that matter, could be seen as tacit acceptance of racism and possibly as racist itself.  On the other hand though, this sort of debate is invaluable in ensuring that this does not happen.

It's a pity that Ennis isn't more honest and critical of the racist elements of the story in the introduction.  He does acknowledge this dimension but then attempts to excuse it by reference to the primary motivational elements of the plot and the historical context.  On the plus side there is at least an acknowledgement that these problematic elements exist.  It just feels a little feeble.

A more open and honest introduction would interrogate these elements more robustly.  It would explore the ways in which such attitudes and language can no longer be accepted and arguably should not have been used so casually at the time of writing.  It would consider the dangers of uncritical acceptance of these dimensions of the text and how the reader should be challenged to reflect on the ways in which they affect them.

No doubt Daily Mail readers / writers would decry this as 'woke rubbish' (something we've debated elsewhere) but I think there is a difference between the 'affected sensibility' that to me seems to be implied by 'woke' and a conscious awareness of these sorts of issues, attitudes and views.  It is a legitimate issue that needs to be challenged rather than a position adopted for personal gain.

Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #32 on: 02 May, 2021, 03:26:33 PM »
The idea that it's not offensive to non-Japanese readers is a weird one for me. It reminds me of a true story: in a computer game classroom (where no women were present due to current demographics) a student said that "women belong in the kitchen", to which the teacher responded "woah - that's a sexist statement". The student says "but there are no women here"*.

Clearly, it was a sexist statement. And men are allowed to dislike sexism. And recognize it.

You don't need to show D*rkie's Mob to some Japanese veterans from WWII in order for it to be offensive.

Question: does the current reprinting have any discussion about the content or the context?


*This leads to the obvious joke: if a sexist is axed to death in the forest, but no women are around to witness it, has any good been done?

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Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #33 on: 02 May, 2021, 04:11:18 PM »
Some questions:

 - Why do the Japanese frequently say "Aiee!" as a precursor to other statements? This is like American Indians saying "um" before everything in comics.

 - Why is D*rkie superhuman? Impaled by a sword? No problem - he's too tough to kill. Those weak Japanese, though - he plows through them like a hot knife through butter.

 - Where are all the British Indian troops? This is Burma - the vast majority of the troops in the British army would not have been white guys.


Some historical notes:

 - After the Japanese takeover of Burma, some forces did operate behind enemy lines, but they were sent in, rather than stuck behind the advance. They needed resupply by air and were not a significant threat to the Japanese war effort (it was realized with hindsight). There was Z-Force (mostly native intelligence gathering) and the famous Chindits (big effort for small results).

 - The Japanese lost Burma due to their overall supply issues (to do with the entire Pacific theater, rather than by any kind of local tactical superiority of the allied forces). The high water mark came in their (really, desperate last throw of the dice) attack on Imphal, which was defeated. When the Japanese retreated and were chased, it was found they were starving.

 - The British are shown as noble and honorable. British government policy in this time period and proximate geographic area caused the Bengal Famine of 1943, in which there were over 3 million deaths.

---

So,we can't pretend that D*rkie's Mob is some kind of historical document. It's pure fantasy, with an anti-Japanese, pro-British, pro-white pallor. That everyone was doing this sort of thing in the 70s doesn't excuse a current printing that doesn't address these issues.
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Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #34 on: 02 May, 2021, 04:20:11 PM »
Question: does the current reprinting have any discussion about the content or the context?

Sorry to triple post and then quote myself (double-crime!) but I just read Tjm86's post which answers that question well.
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #35 on: 02 May, 2021, 05:58:36 PM »
Having just covered during my Ultimate Collection re-read that section of Robo-Hunter (“AIEEEE! BLAKEE PENTAX!”), I’m glad that at least was addressed by Matt Smith in the introduction. It’d be interesting to see if the same happens in Darkie’s Mob.

Japanese people did get a lot of shit in 2000 AD and related publications over the years. The casual use of racist language throughout the classic era comic is pretty overt in a number of Dredd strips. (That it got through also suggests this was institutional to some degree.)

Ultimately, things were different in the past, even if they weren’t acceptable. I’m in two minds about reworking older material. I didn’t really care when Rebellion did that for Darkie’s Mob, nor when The Beano removed Peanut from the masthead/interior of its box-set reproductions. But context and looking back at these things is a better option, where possible.

Richard

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #36 on: 02 May, 2021, 06:48:28 PM »
Quote
Why is D*rkie superhuman? Impaled by a sword? No problem - he's too tough to kill. Those weak Japanese, though - he plows through them like a hot knife through butter.

To be fair, I wouldn't call that racist, it's a fairly common trope in action stories that the hero is often a badass who can defeat masses of enemies while wounded and outnumbered.

I take your other points though.

Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #37 on: 02 May, 2021, 07:41:39 PM »
Quote
Why is D*rkie superhuman? Impaled by a sword? No problem - he's too tough to kill. Those weak Japanese, though - he plows through them like a hot knife through butter.

To be fair, I wouldn't call that racist, it's a fairly common trope in action stories that the hero is often a badass who can defeat masses of enemies while wounded and outnumbered.

I see your point, but I'd argue that the issue here is that it's being presented in a historical context - a real battle in a real war. For me, that's a key aspect of what's at issue. Kano can be invulnerable and the Krool can be weak (the same point I made in a letter to the Meg in 2003) and it doesn't matter because it's entirely a fiction and presented as such. D*rkie's Mob is also reinforcing a negative stereotype, as opposed to a sort of David and Goliath story. (Although I was reading somewhere recently that, rather than being a "yay for the underdog" story, it's really all about who's God is the mightiest, and why it might be okay to enslave the Philistines. Those philistines!)

Interestingly, the (genuine, at the time) British attitude towards the Japanese led them to woefully underestimate the danger they posed militarily.  "The idea that all Japanese soldiers were very short-sighted and inherently inferior" (Beevor, 2012) led to fairly humiliating defeats across the area, despite the British forces far outnumbering those of the Japanese.

---

Caveats: I realize it's a well-structured story, and I don't believe that the creators at the time were setting out to be offensive or genuinely held abhorrent views. I do believe strongly that any modern reprinting deserves not just a nervous nod, but a deeper dive into the problematic areas of the publication.


Beevor, A. (2012). The Second World War
« Last Edit: 02 May, 2021, 07:44:15 PM by Funt Solo »
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JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #38 on: 02 May, 2021, 08:14:31 PM »
To address a very small part of your post, Funt, I just found out yesterday that 'um' is Portuguese for 'a' yesterday and wondered if someone confused colonial Brazilians for native Americans somewhere down the line. Probably not though
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Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #39 on: 03 May, 2021, 03:31:17 AM »
...And the soldiers call Germans (Nazis) - Jerry, Fritz, Kraut, as they did in real life.

This may seem like nit-picking, but I think it's quite important (it certainly was at the time) to differentiate between Germans who were Nazis and Germans who weren't Nazis. I still appreciate the central thrust of your argument - that soldiery of any side of almost any conflict have pejorative nomenclature for their enemy. Having said that, there are levels: Jerry and Fritz have almost a sense of shared camaraderie, whereas Kraut and Nazi seem more pejorative.

In WWII, there was a considerable difference between the Wehrmacht (regular armed forces) and the Waffen-SS (the military wing of the Nazi party). I've no doubt that there was something of a Venn diagram of beliefs, political affiliations and bigotry across the two, but just in general terms the Wehrmacht were seen as being caught up in the conflict like any solider on any side whereas the SS were seen to have more of a vested interest in Nazi party ideals, and a reputation for brutality towards civilians and prisoners.
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milstar

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #40 on: 03 May, 2021, 10:08:48 AM »
...And the soldiers call Germans (Nazis) - Jerry, Fritz, Kraut, as they did in real life.

This may seem like nit-picking, but I think it's quite important (it certainly was at the time) to differentiate between Germans who were Nazis and Germans who weren't Nazis. I still appreciate the central thrust of your argument - that soldiery of any side of almost any conflict have pejorative nomenclature for their enemy. Having said that, there are levels: Jerry and Fritz have almost a sense of shared camaraderie, whereas Kraut and Nazi seem more pejorative.

In WWII, there was a considerable difference between the Wehrmacht (regular armed forces) and the Waffen-SS (the military wing of the Nazi party). I've no doubt that there was something of a Venn diagram of beliefs, political affiliations and bigotry across the two, but just in general terms the Wehrmacht were seen as being caught up in the conflict like any solider on any side whereas the SS were seen to have more of a vested interest in Nazi party ideals, and a reputation for brutality towards civilians and prisoners.
Definitely, not every soldier in the German/Nazi army was Nazi. I mean, with Nazi beliefs. On the bottom level, however, he is being seen as an enemy. I think that propaganda was also an important part, if not the most, in dehumanizing the enemy. Whether a war went on, well... I mean, Yankee is used by Southerners in Confederate Army during the US civil war. And it seems almost everyone who participated in any war had a name for the enemy. When I read Ennis' The Adventures in Rifle Brigade, I found that Germans called Brits "Tommies". Don't know if anyone used "Eternal Anglos".
But, I wonder about this controversial thing: do we know what really offends someone? I mean, okay, we all know for notorious terms like: “n——r, f——t, k——e". But, for instance, I never really saw Jap as offensive. To me, it was abbreviated from Japanese. Much like Brit is derived from Briton. Then again, someone might used: "Those filthy Japanese twats", which is indeed offensive. This reminds me of a recent case when someone proposed the term "Latinx" for people from Latin America. Until then, I didn't know how to call those people properly - Latino, Latina? Perhaps Latino for males, Latina for females? But for the whole people in general? Then I saw a lot of people from that background, complaining about the term "Latinx", deeming it deeply offensive.

Edited for board terms—IP
« Last Edit: 04 May, 2021, 03:51:17 PM by IndigoPrime »
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JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #41 on: 03 May, 2021, 10:29:33 AM »
Quote
When I read Ennis' The Adventures in Rifle Brigade, I found that Germans called Brits "Tommies"

Now that's interesting.  They say it in, iirc, the All Quiet on the Western Front novel, but I'd thought it was just the English translation for whatever word they really used.  A quick Google search reveals that you're right, though.   Doesn't sound too offensive, given that they called themselves Tommies too, but I suppose the same could be said of the n-word.
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Funt Solo

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #42 on: 03 May, 2021, 02:37:44 PM »
Uh, guys? Can we please stop spelling out the n-word? With the greatest respect. Thank you.
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #43 on: 03 May, 2021, 02:43:08 PM »
But, for instance, I never really saw Jap as offensive. To me, it was abbreviated from Japanese.
It was—until it became an ethnic slur after Pearl Harbour, which is hardly recent history. Nip is a similar thing. That these were so widespread in British comics decades later is not good. In the context of wartime comics, their use was not great, but had potentially some justification in strips seeking to be realistic—although few really were. So what you got was 1940s jingoism transplanted to the 1970s. And it went much wider than that. As I noted earlier, Robo-Hunter—a sci-fi comic from the 1980s—is full of this shit. Dredd is too.

That British people might not have seen this as offensive (or still don’t) isn’t really relevant, because it was seen as offensive by the people the slur was directed at. “I don’t ‘feel’ X” is a response that generally needs a lot more thought wherever it is used. Remember: plenty of white people don’t consider “n——r” offensive today. Jap/nip are in a similar space. The good thing is that those people using these terms in British comics (including Wagner/Grant) seemingly stopped doing so when they became educated about it, rather than doubling down. But I don’t think there’s really any defence bar ignorance, which isn’t really any defence at all.

milstar

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Re: Darkie's Mob
« Reply #44 on: 04 May, 2021, 12:19:30 PM »
Uh, guys? Can we please stop spelling out the n-word? With the greatest respect. Thank you.

Yes, I asked IndigoPrime (sent PM to him) to do the same with f****t and k**e. Don't want people here to think that I have some bias against those people.
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