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View Poll Results: Are the Indiana Jones Films Racist?
No 60 78.95%
Yes - all of them 4 5.26%
Raiders of the Lost Ark 0 0%
Temple of Doom 11 14.47%
Last Crusade 0 0%
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 1 1.32%
Voters: 76. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:33 PM   #1
Rocket Surgeon
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Indiana Jones films: racist?

rac·ism
/ˈrāˌsizəm/Noun

1.The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races
2.Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.

I don't see it. Where is the racism in any of the Indiana Jones films?
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:41 PM   #2
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Racist? Absolutely not.

Orientalist or imperialist? Perhaps.

But Indy shows a lot of respect to the poor people of a remote village in India. He studies (and is presumably fascinated by) other cultures both past and present. Not a racist at all.

Even as a kid, he seemed to see everyone as equal regardless of race or social status -- from a Masai kid in Kenya to Krishnamurti.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
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Who claimed he was racist? Is there really a need for this poll?
Edit: On second thought, I think that I do remember some users claiming that the dinner scene at Pankot was somewhat in bad taste, but I really don't concur.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodeknight
Orientalist or imperialist? Perhaps.
Could you elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Who claimed he was racist?

Please re-read the question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Where is the racism in any of the Indiana Jones films?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Is there really a need for this poll?
Why do you care? Does it offend you?
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon



Please re-read the question:



Why do you care? Does it offend you?

Please, read my edit. And, it doesn't offend me. Did my question offend you?
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Did my question offend you?
Asking if there is any need for the poll which you misread wasn't offensive as much as it was annoying. So I asked you why and to reconsider it.

You still haven't answered why you questioned the need for the poll, and I would like an answer.

But I'm looking forward moreso to goodknight's "Orientalist or imperialist" comment...
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Could you elaborate?

Well, it has been argued that to study another culture, the observer must see himself as somewhat above the culture in question. Someone from a more developed country studying someone from a less developed one.

Let me amend what I said, though, and scratch out "Imperialist." Indy is quite the opposite there. Going back to Kenya again, he did his best to learn his friend's language and customs. Tried to teach a few kids baseball later on, but that's another story. Imperialists really subjugate the Other, similar to the way colonialists try to force attitudes customs and beliefs on others. But Indy doesn't do either. He tries to adapt and become a part of the Other culture, if anything, in an attempt to understand it and work within it.

I say "Orientalist" in the way Edward Said used the term -- meaning the patronizing West seeing the East as somewhat inferior or less. Still not racism, though.

For evidence of this, I'd cite the humorous shot of the Egyptian worker plastered against the windshield during the big truck chase. Indy doesn't give him a second thought, like a bird just flew into the windshield. No biggie. And he's more than willing to grab the Chacapoyan fertility idol to stick it in a museum. Maybe he's keeping it safe from Belloq, but he certainly doesn't intend on giving it back to the locals. And he wrecks a lot of villages during his adventures. Not the most considerate visitor to foreign lands. And newspapers did report he was threatened with having his ______ cut off if he ever went back to one historic spot.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Asking if there is any need for the poll which you misread wasn't offensive as much as it was annoying. So I asked you why and to reconsider it.

I am so sorry, sir. Please send me to bed without any supper for annoying you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocko
You still haven't answered why you questioned the need for the poll, and I would like an answer.

Since when did the rule that says we must obey the great Rocko take effect? But, I will humor you. I asked because frankly this poll seems pointless to me. Of all the users that I have seen post on this board over the years, only a very, scant few even implied that the films were racist in any way. You claim you don't see any racism, maybe because there isn't any and no active user believes that there is? So, I honestly ask you, what's the point?
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:21 PM   #9
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Indy is shown to be friends with people of different races - Sallah, Katanga, Shorty, Wu Han, and so on.

No indication that he's racist. Rather, he is a particularly enlightened individual in that regards for the 1930s. For example, in Shanghai in that period, the Chinese were regarded by some westerners as being of lower status than negroes. In fact, the existence of the Chinese raised the standing of the blacks - who were admitted to certain 'white' clubs, while the Chinese were excluded. Yet Indy works with Wu Han, and acts as foster-father to Shorty.

However, as goodeknight wrote, that does not exclude Indy from exhibiting imperialist views. He might befriend and respect those of non-caucasian persuasion, but when it comes to 'savages' such as the Hovitos, he sees his claim to the fertility idol as being greater than their own.

Fortune and glory, bolstered by the mantra that "it belongs in a museum", permits him to moralize theft. He may, therefore, be imposing different rules for 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' foreigners.

If he can fabricate a justification, Indy will steal what he wants.

Belloq, on the other hand, will manipulate anyone for his own ends without justification.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re-read the question everyone! Rocket isn't talking about Indiana Jones, but the films being racist (or not). I got slapped on the wrist once already for making that grave mistake.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Re-read the question everyone! Rocket isn't talking about Indiana Jones, but the films being racist (or not). I got slapped on the wrist once already for making that grave mistake.

But the question and the poll are two different...questions!

1) Indiana Jones: Racist?

2) Are the Indiana Jones Films Racist?


Rocko, of all people, knows that Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn't Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.


So, to answer question #2.

Yes. The films are racist.

Because they are in the tradtion of films and serials that were also racist.

They reflect certain attitudes, which may either be regarded as homage, or alternately, the ignorance or disregard of the film-makers themselves.

Since there is so much wrong, socially and historically, within the Indiana Jones films, it would be difficult to argue definitively whether racist aspects were intentional or not.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodeknight
I say "Orientalist" in the way Edward Said used the term -- meaning the patronizing West seeing the East as somewhat inferior or less. Still not racism, though.
Could that simply and validly be applied to technological inferiority, i.e. industrialization?

Originally Grandstanded by Driftwood
Re-read the question everyone! Rocket isn't talking about Indiana Jones, but the films being racist (or not). I got slapped on the wrist once already for making that grave mistake.

Congratulations, you've managed to drag your ass across the carpet of this conversation...I guess skid marks are the best you can contribute.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocko
Congratulations, you've managed to drag your ass across the carpet of this conversation...I guess skid marks are the best you can contribute.[/size][/color]

Keep bumping that post-count, Rocko. And thanks for the congrats. Means a lot coming from a legend like yourself.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodeknight
...he's more than willing to grab the Chacapoyan fertility idol to stick it in a museum. Maybe he's keeping it safe from Belloq, but he certainly doesn't intend on giving it back to the locals.
Does it matter, (their claim) that they're Hovitos and not Chachapoyans?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
But the question and the poll are two different...questions!
Good Lord. The Title of the thread:

1) Indiana Jones: Racist?

...is general.

The Poll question:

2) Are the Indiana Jones Films Racist?

...and the initial post question:

3) Where is the racism in any of the Indiana Jones films?

...each in their turn, and as they are able, build off of each other.



Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Keep bumping that post-count, Rocko. And thanks for the congrats. Means a lot coming from a legend like yourself.

Don't have to guess any longer, thanks for confirming.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:45 PM   #15
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http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2...le-of-the-doom

http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue12/templeofdoom.html

Quote:
Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Virtual Reality: The Orientalist and Colonial Legacies of Gunga Din

by Dr. Kaizaad Navroze Kotwal


Kaizaad Kotwal is a professor at The Ohio State University's Theatre Department. Originally from India, the author has his B.A. in Theatre, Art, and Economics and an M.A. in Theatre. His dissertation research concerned Virtual Reality and Cyber-Technologies for Theatre and Cinema. He is also an actor, director, producer, writer and designer with over 150 credits to his name.

Both Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and George Steven’s Gunga Din (the former of which owes a huge debt to), are celluloid Virtual Realities (1) which are fraught with problems of racist, orientalist imagery, reinforcing colonial notions of the “orientals” (Indians in the case of the above mentioned movies) as savage, filthy, pagan and uncivilized. It is important to revisit such films to expose them not simply as escapist, action films, but rather as films that endorse ideologies of colonialism and hegemonic notions of racial superiority.

....

http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onli...sTempDoom.html
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Don't have to guess any longer, thanks for confirming.
You're welcome!

Anyhoo, does anyone else share the view that the Pankot dinner scene could be concidered racist? I recall a few users saying such, but can't remember which thread it was in. I think it plays on certain stereotypes, but not racist. What other scenes stand out?
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Yes. The films are racist.

Because they are in the tradtion of films and serials that were also racist.

They reflect certain attitudes, which may either be regarded as homage, or alternately, the ignorance or disregard of the film-makers themselves.

Since there is so much wrong, socially and historically, within the Indiana Jones films, it would be difficult to argue definitively whether racist aspects were intentional or not.

Pretty slim Tana, downright anorexic...examples please.

Where is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races?

...or: Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief?
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Pretty slim Tana, downright anorexic...examples please.

Every screenplay ends with "FADE TO BLACK"
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
Anyhoo, does anyone else share the view that the Pankot dinner scene could be concidered racist? I recall a few users saying such, but can't remember which thread it was in. I think it plays on certain stereotypes, but not racist. What other scenes stand out?

I think Lucas and Spielberg were merely displaying their ignorance and blatant disregard for history and culture.

The same disregard that launched Raiders into a fantasy world or parallel universe wherein technology was advanced before its time, where foreigners could open bars in Nepal, Thuggee spill blood, and the supernatural occurs.

However, it may not be the case that Hindus are forbidden to eat meat - only meat from a cow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_in...etarian_Hindus
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Pretty slim Tana, downright anorexic...examples please.

Where is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races?

...or: Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief?

Short Round is a martial arts expert, because is oriental.

Natives will run in terror from certain signs or locations.

Natives will be splattered on windscreens for comedic effect.

Natives will be lecherous and have to be beaten with frying pans.

Natives who honour and protect objects deriving from other natives will have those objects removed for display in museums so civilized white people may see them, and white mercenaries may be paid.


The films play with stereotypes existing in the source material, though it is uncertain whether this is purely homage or actual racism.


TOD mixes it up. Shorty might be a martial arts expert based upon his race, but he is also the real hero, without whom the slaves wouldn't be freed, and Indy would have remained a white zombie to a brown master.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:32 PM   #21
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Temple of Doom certainly had more than a few racist overtones in it (particularly in Pankot) ... and some of the behind the scenes commentary about George Lucas certainly reinforces at least his racism. If you don't believe the film was racist against Indians, India would disagree with you, since it was banned in that country for that reason for a number of years.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
Short Round is a martial arts expert, because is oriental.

Hah, also remember his "sounds like fortune cookie" quip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty
Natives will run in terror from certain signs or locations.

I would run in terror if I seen a statue of an evil Goddess that I believed strongly in; staring at me with a necklace of bloody human fingers too!

Quote:
Natives will be splattered on windscreens for comedic effect.

How was this playing off of anything racist or stereotypical? That would've been funny if it had been anyone! Even if it was Marcus Brody (that would have been funnier to be honest).

Quote:
Natives will be lecherous and have to be beaten with frying pans.

I hate that scene.

Quote:
Natives who honour and protect objects deriving from other natives will have those objects removed for display in museums so civilized white people may see them, and white mercenaries may be paid.

I'm pretty sure a few civilized black or yellow people would go and see them as well.


Quote:
The films play with stereotypes existing in the source material, though it is uncertain whether this is purely homage or actual racism.

I agree. But, I think it's all done in fun. I don't think any malice was intended at all.


Quote:
TOD mixes it up. Shorty might be a martial arts expert based upon his race, but he is also the real hero, without whom the slaves wouldn't be freed, and Indy would have remained a white zombie to a brown master.

More than that; Indy and Willie would both been splattered all over the asphalt if not for Shortie driving the vehicle under the awning at that exact time!
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:46 PM   #23
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I voted no to racism but the films benefit from using stereotypes. It's an interesting question, does using stereotypes imply racism? I don't think that leap, as an argument, can be made.

Exploiting stereotypes in IJ movies is done for reasons other than claiming superiority of one group over another. If a prejudice is expressed against a racial group as a result of using stereotypes, then I suppose racism can be claimed. Prejudice against Nazis, though they are not a racial group but did hold racial attitudes, would seem to be OK.

Do the films dodge a social responsibility by claiming to be nothing more than light entertainment while perpetuating stereotypes? As Montana asks, are they homage or racism? I do not think they are racist overall. They are homage using techniques that include stereotyping as a deliberate way to fulfill that genre and do not pretend to be education pieces. I think that gets them off the hook.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vance
Temple of Doom certainly had more than a few racist overtones in it (particularly in Pankot) ... and some of the behind the scenes commentary about George Lucas certainly reinforces at least his racism. If you don't believe the film was racist against Indians, India would disagree with you, since it was banned in that country for that reason for a number of years.

This is the heart of the matter.

'Racism', if not overt, as in the systematic degrading of a race through statement or action, may be perceived based on the viewer's cultural perspective.

As such, the Indy movies may be regarded any way you like, as The Drifter remarks on my tongue-in-cheek example:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
How was this playing off of anything racist or stereotypical? That would've been funny if it had been anyone! Even if it was Marcus Brody (that would have been funnier to be honest).

There are some who will find racism in the slightest thing, because it's what they want to find, in order to build a case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Drifter
I agree. But, I think it's all done in fun. I don't think any malice was intended at all.

That's the way I see the films. Though it could be argued, and has been argued, that willful ignorance on the part of the film-makers equates to racism.

I don't think Lucas and Spielberg cared enough about real culture and history to bother researching facts. The films were intentionally negligent because all they needed to create was an environment that allowed them to play out 1930s and 1940s fantasies for a 1980s audience.

There were obviously those that either didn't see the intention, didn't want to see the intention, or simply didn't like the intention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vance
Temple of Doom certainly had more than a few racist overtones in it (particularly in Pankot) ... and some of the behind the scenes commentary about George Lucas certainly reinforces at least his racism. If you don't believe the film was racist against Indians, India would disagree with you, since it was banned in that country for that reason for a number of years.

The original films and serials were filled with racism: ignorant/stupid/simple-minded natives; non-white races in subordinate roles playing for laughs. They often under-valued/degraded/demeaned non-white races. Since these films and serials were often aimed at children they were in effect instilling in them hierarchical stereotypes.

The films reflected their times, and Lucas was reflecting the films. Yet, he makes certain amends: Sallah, Katanga, Short Round, etc etc. The hero may still be white, and he may have inherent imperialist views, but he is more respectful than his original forefathers.



(Incidentally, the Charlie Chan films actually invert the situation in 1930s Shanghai: the Chinese detective is superior to the idiotic, simple-minded black chauffeur/servant. Though Charlie Chan was famously played by non-Asian actors, which muddies the water).
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Smith
The films reflected their times, and Lucas was reflecting the films. Yet, he makes certain amends: Sallah, Katanga, Short Round, etc etc. The hero may still be white, and he may have inherent imperialist views, but he is more respectful than his original forefathers.

I can forgive most of the Indiana Jones scenes as being 'pulpy' which was also very anglo-centric and played with stereotypes. The problem with that Pankot theme was that there weren't even stereotypes being used here.. just simple, haterful, 'barbarianization' of India that, in the mid 1930s, was actually more advanced that most of the rest of the world.

This is to say nothing of overtly offending one of the most populous religions on the planet, getting the name of a major deity wrong, adding human sacrifice to a real-world cult that never had it, and so on. Really, it seemed like the film was going out of its way to be hateful to India at many points.

Seriously, what the **** was wrong with George in this bit?

Quote:
(Incidentally, the Charlie Chan films actually invert the situation in 1930s Shanghai: the Chinese detective is superior to the idiotic, simple-minded black chauffeur/servant. Though Charlie Chan was famously played by non-Asian actors, which muddies the water).

Sadly, not too much has changed. It's very hard to get a lead Asian actor in Hollywood today unless there are martial arts involved. I actually can't think of one...
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