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OpryLeigh's avatar

Do you think it is the right thing to change the name of the dog in the remake of Dam Busters?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25300points) June 10th, 2011

This has me very torn indeed. Here is the article about the new Dam Busters movies.

The dog is being renamed Digger because the name of the real dog that this is based on is now (quite rightly) an offensive term (replace the D with an N).

I am not questioning whether the N-word is offensive but seeing as this is based on truth and the dog (who’s grave you can apparently visit) was called Nigger because, apparently it means black in Latin (didn’t know that!) and the dog was a black Labrador.

Now, if this was a completely made up story then, of course, I wouldn’t agree with a character being called something so offensive but the fact that this is a part of history makes me wonder if it is right/necessary to change the name. I’m sure it won’t make any difference to the film, especially for the people that weren’t already aware of the story behind it and Hollywood changes historical fact all the time but I would like to know what others thoughts are.

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15 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

I don’t think it matters that much.

What really pisses me off is holywoods inisitance on continually remaking old films and foreign films and then totaly messing them up.

morphail's avatar

It’s not the Latin word for “black”. The Latin word for “black” is niger/nigra/nigrum.

marinelife's avatar

It’s a movie.

It is not a historically accurate depiction of anything.

Change the name. It is too offensive on so many levels.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

The issue I have is Peter Jackson not returning to his gory-ious splatter days.

jaytkay's avatar

I would change the name of the dog. The movie is not about race or racial attitudes or dogs.

Fun fact: The Star Wars scene where they fly in the canyon and blow up the Death Star is lifted right out of the 1955 Dam Busters.

Rotten Tomatoes Show: Star Wars & The Dam Busters – Homage or Stealing: Rotten Tomatoes Show

ucme's avatar

So long as they don’t strap the pooch to the bomb, I have no objections.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Lightlyseared That’s kind of what made me ask this question. If they need to change things, even small things, why bother remaking the movie. The original was perfectly good why not leave it at that?!

@ucme I wish I could GA you a hundred times for that response.

gailcalled's avatar

HIstory is mutable. We just got my mother’s death certificate. Three serious inaccuracies/ mistakes will now be recorded for posterity.

The_Idler's avatar

Well, that’s just Americanitis for you, but I think this is probably the most justifiable case I’ve heard of.

There is absolutely no way you could screen a film in America, involving a dog named Nigger.

There is such an incredibly strong association between that word and race-hate, that it’s probably more taboo than anything now. I mean, if you call someone a ‘fucking cunt’, you’ll raise eyebrows, but if you call someone a ‘nigger’, you’ll raise hell.

When you look at this in the context of all the other casualties of Americanitis, it’s completely harmless (plot-wise) and also pretty reasonable.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have seen plenty of films where the word “Nigger” has been used in humour and to offend (during discussion between characters). Why is it ok to use the word in this way and not ok to be used as the name of a dog that really existed with that name?

The_Idler's avatar

As I said, Americanitis. The audience will not accept it.
I think you’d have a hard time with a British audience, but race THE biggest taboo in America.

Obviously the word is used in cinema, but like you say, only as an insult or humour. Basically, it is only ever portrayed as ‘wrong’, or at least in some other way taboo, which is where the humour comes from.

Audiences would simply not understand it being used in a neutral way, and this would be distracting. Very distracting. People would remember it as The film with the dog called Nigger, and be unable to get over the fact that the people are constantly saying Nigger.

Basically, it would detract from the story.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@The_Idler Great answer. Thank you, that makes sense.

downtide's avatar

Every movie changes history. The name of a dog is insignificant.

I’ve actually seen the grave of the original “Nigger”. I was born and raised just about 10 miles from the RAF base (Scampton) where he lived, and I visited the base quite a few times.

filmfann's avatar

There is also a dog’s grave at Hoover Dam labeled “Nigger”.
Obviously, this name was considered humorous by the work crews.
I think it’s a good idea to change it for the movie. No point illustraiting how ignorant people were then.

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