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

Gary Handman (
Tue, 08 Jul 2003 14:11:58 -0700

Hey Chris...

Interesting points...I'm not going to second guess Eddie Wong and NAATA,
but my guess is that the issue of a film involving white (a Swede and a guy
from Warrensburg, Missouri! Yow!) actors in yellow-face is a central issue
for, I'd guess that "sensitive light" is purty relative when
we're talking Charlie C.

Nonetheless...I'll personally go to the mat before I see a huge slug of
pre-60's Hollywood pulled from sight because the images offend
SOMEONE! Again, my contention is that context and discussion are key to
dealing with images we'd rather hide than face full-on.

At 04:01 PM 7/8/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>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
>Videolib mailing list

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley

"What is cinema? Nothing. What does cinema want? Everything. What can
cinema do? Something."
--Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema

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