Many, if not most, will have watched Flash Gordon, the sci-fi film which garnered more unintentional belly laughs than any episode of Dallas, The alleged ‘special effects’, inclusive of cardboard rocketships and Brian Blessed and his army of ‘Winged Horsemen’ were so awful that fans generated groups of ‘Flash’ worshippers. The so-called acting of the lead, Sam Jones, was so bad that he left the entire production immediately after the completion of filming. Dino de Laurentiis had arranged for Jones’ entire scenes to be dubbed with another actor’s voice.
But I do not write of Flash / Sam, or of a winged Brian Blessed; but instead of Flash Gordon’s nemesis; Ming the Merciless from the planet Mong. As the actor taking the role of Ming, from the planet Mong, was to be Max von Sydow, and all the make-up people had were photos of Charles Middleton made-up as Ming in the original film. As von Sydow is Swedish, but looks so Germanic that he would have been the perfect walk-on in a Riefenstahl documentary; they gave von Sydow a shiny black wig, a black beard and sideburns, and enhanced his eyebrows to look Oriental, as everyone accepted that the Commie Chinks were bad guys anyway, what with the fat paedophile Mao, now dead; along with the odd fifty millions who died as a result of his botched agriculture and industry plans. Remember that, folks: Ming the Merciless was from the Planet Mong!
So along comes the BBC, their Diversity and Racial Justice profilers panting to make a difference, and seize on this truly daft film, which everyone who has ever either seen it, or watched clips on the box knows that it was, truly, a daft, harmless film, played for laughs. So the Diversity and Racial Justice bunch, I kid you not, decides that the film’s directors have been really nasty to Orientals in general, and Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless besides being one of the great screen villains; was also a “discriminatory stereotype”, according to the British Board of Film Classification. Matt Tindall, senior policy officer, said: “Flash’s arch-nemesis, Ming the Merciless, is coded as an East Asian character due to his hair and make-up but he’s played by the Swedish actor, Max von Sydow, which I don’t think is something that would happen if this were a modern production and is something we’re also aware that viewers may find dubious, if not outright offensive.
See that last bit? Ming the Merciless, a fictional screen character, in the eyes of the Beeb’s Diversity Clown Brigade; is actually offending some snowflake, because Max is Swedish!