15 1 min 11 yrs

Offensive: Actor Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson and his dog N*gger in the classic film, The Dambusters

So, Nigger is now Digger.

The Dambusters dog Nigger will be renamed Digger for a modern remake of the iconic film to avoid offending American viewers, it has emerged. Script writer Stephen Fry, 53, has confirmed that pilot Guy Gibson’s faithful black Labrador will be renamed for the forthcoming Peter Jackson movie. In the original 1955 film Gibson’s dog’s name was spoken 12 times as a code word to report successful dam breaches to RAF Bomber Command.

Let me ask American readers, do you agree with this sanitisation lest it offend?  I can see why this is being done but in a way it would be more gritty, more challenging, to leave the words alone. Of course the best thing about the Dambusters is this…

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15 thoughts on “DIGGER NOT N…..

  1. So now we have reached the stage where historical accuracy has been sacrificed for the sake of political correctness. I say forget about the remake in that case. What is the point?

  2. The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has risked his political neutrality by describing the Daily Mail as a “sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip”.

    He also apologised for breaking the trade descriptions act by describing the Mail as a “newspaper”.

    Nuff said

  3. >>So now we have reached the stage where historical accuracy has been sacrificed for the sake of political correctness.<<

    Marlloy, don't tell me you think the first Dambusters film, or any British or American war film, was historically accurate?

  4. I am a bit baffled by the idea that this is being done because of American sensibilities. Surely the word is just as offensive on this side of the pond too.

    Generally I am opposed to this sort of tinkering with historical detail but I can see the point in this case. The word is not kinown in any other context than as a grossly derogatory term used against black people and is genuinely hurtful and has largely been eradicated from the public sphere nowadays. The name of the dog is not integral to the plot and it’s use would actually detract from the story for modern particularly younger audiences.

    Remakes of classic films will always have lots of differences to the original. This minor change is being done for good decent reasons and I think on balance it’s the right thing to do.

  5. BTW, an interesting anecdote is that Joseph Conrad’s classic “The Nigger of the Narcissus” was first published in the US – in 1897 – under the title “Children of the Sea”, not because the publishers didnt want to cause offence, but because they thought fewer people would buy a book with a black as the main character.

    I heard the book was recently republished with the title – and this was serious – “The N-word of the Narcissus”.

  6. I fully understand why this is being done and I regret the loss of accuracy.

    But at the end of the day, it’s a dog’s name. Not worth arguing about, except in the Daily Mail of course, if it fits their agenda.

  7. Since when have Stephen Fry and the London luvvie been keen to not offend Americans?

    It’s holy code at least when a Republican is in the White House. Come on, Stephen Fry and his chums have made fortunes from insulting every conservative standard, every tradition and breaking every taboo.

    Yet all of a sudden they’re so keen to avoid insulting Americans they’re re-writing history? Nonsense.

    They’re re-writing a fact of history because they disapprove of it.

  8. it’s stupid but if they didn’t the film would be sued by one of the liberal alphabet groups

  9. “They’re re-writing a fact of history because they disapprove of it.”

    They’re re-writing it to improve its chances at the American box office,
    and of course we all know Gibson was actually on secondment from the USAAF;
    as were all war heroes.

    And of course Bletchley Park was full of ’em…

  10. Of course I don’t think that, but one thing is absolutely certain and that is the name of Guy Gibson’s dog. He was called Nigger and that is the name inscribed on his grave at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

    What you must remember is that this is a film of the time and at that time there were hundreds of black dogs named Nigger. Film makers may stray away from strict accuracy for the sake of effect, but to start renaming characters goes a little too far.

    P.S. I remember the days when I had a nigger brown coat and cleaned my shoes with nigger brown polish. There never was the slightest thought that this was a racist term, just a colour.

  11. It is perhaps a small point, but Nigger was actually immortalised in a message transmitted over the aircraft intercom during the practice runs over the Lake District dams where the bombing was practised.

    As the practice bomb splashed down exactly on the floating target, the observer was heard to call out, “Jeez, Captain, that surely was the Skipper’s Dog’s Bollocks!”

  12. tom,

    Are you also aware that the nickname for the aforementioned Speaker is ‘the poisoned dwarf’?

  13. Apart from my earlier humourous – nay, hilarious comment (I thank yow!)
    my concern is,
    where does this stop?
    We risk tipping into George Orwell’s 1984 ethics, where history was constantly being rewritten to fit in with current state policy.
    I agree that the dog’s name is not essential to the story, but it was true that the dog’s name was Nigger.
    ‘Cos he was black.
    He didn’t choose to be black, that was his colour.

    ‘Negro’ in Spanish and Portuguese means black, from the latin word ‘neger’.

    I am sure Guy Gibson didn’t name the dog Nigger as a racial slur;
    after all, what is wrong with being black?

    Half a chessboard is,
    and as far as I know, coal is too.
    It’s not being black that matters, it is our attitudes and cultural values which define us, not our skin colour.

    If you have seen Will Smith’s
    “The pursuit of Happiness”
    you will see the courage and determination of one man to make a life for himself. A great film, I recommend it.

    What is sad is that a whole “forbidden” zone has grown up around the word
    as it has for
    Essex girl
    etc etc.
    I love old books, and when I read them there are words and attitudes that crop up which are both outdated and offensive. I don’t demand the book be sanitised, i accept it as being reflective of the times when it was written.
    So why not just set the background for the film, and accept that the constant fear of offending others
    by changing the truth,
    makes real history redundant?

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