[Videolib] What are we discussing here? RE: Charlie Chan

Christopher Lewis (clewis@american.edu)
Tue, 8 Jul 2003 16:01:06 -0400

I want to take a step back to Jessica's original posting on this topic. I
admit that I have not seen a Charlie Chan movie in many years so I yield to
Jessica's knowledge on the topic. From what I understood the movies Fox
painstakingly restored were from the first series of Charlie Chan films
released during the 1930s starring Warner Oland. She suggested that she
didn't consider these films defamatory unlike the series of Charlie Chan
films that came along in the 1940s starring Sidney Toler. Since my cable
company doesn't carry Fox Movie Channel, I can't verify what films were
actually going to be shown.

I was under the impression that Fox had restored the earlier series and
film buffs where going to get a chance to see restored copies of several
films that had been impossible to find either on videotape or on air. The
distinction between the two series was largely absent in the debate. Since
many of the earlier films are unavailable, I have to wonder whether NAATA
knew the difference. Because Eddie Wong's letter to Gary lumps all Charlie
Chan movies together, it's hard to tell. That is what I am most interested
in having clarified.

Without distinguishing the differences in the series, it probably sounds
like those who signed the petition are defending the airing of any racist
programming on mainstream TV if the proper historical context is
established. What I thought I was defending was a lesser-known and
little-seen Charlie Chan who was already portrayed in a sensitive light and
had been sacrificed to the PC gods for the sins of his ancestor.

Christopher Lewis
Media Librarian/Humanities Collection Manager
American University Library
AIM: congolene

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