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Post Reply Is The Mikado Racist and Should be Banned?
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Posted 9/20/15 , edited 9/20/15

ravenista wrote:


SurvivingHorror wrote:

People aren't allowed to have an opposing opinion from you without being labeled something? Are people like you really that simple minded?



Complains about someone labeling others for having an opposing opinion by labeling others with an opposing opinion...lol


I wasn't labeling anyone, I was asking if people like him were really that simple minded. You do know what labeling means, right?


jtjumper wrote:

First, let me preface I know nothing about "The Mikado" or whether it was in fact racist. Maybe it's not the best idea, to have "white" actors playing as Japanese. Then again, we had Sean Connery (Scottish) play James Bond (British) and Chinese actors playing Japanese characters.
1) "SJW" is what kiddies these days use to refer to heavily politically correct individuals.
2) He didn't seem very simple minded to me. He was asking questions and admitting the play might be bad, but that he didn't know.


Well I don't really care if he seemed simple minded to you or not. To me, he seemed incredibly simple minded. I mean he couldn't figure out what label he wanted to attach to people. SJW, Feminist, or Tumber something or other... I don't know everything, I admit that, but I would love to know what feminism has to do with anything!

Were not living in a world that's more sensitive, were just living in a world where insensitive people aren't the only people out there who can use their voices.

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Posted 9/20/15

jtjumper wrote:

I don't know enough about Mikado to know if it's problematic.


That's okay, we forgive you.

The restored version of the 1941 D'Oyly Carte production should be readily available on Netflix before offering multiple opinions, though:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKLlWod7uiU
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Posted 9/20/15
What I find funny is the same troupe last season did Princess Ida last season. So the Mikado is in chronological order if you watched Topsy Turvy(Which still might be on Netflix) you see this play in the opening. Princess Ida has the Princess retreating to her university where no men are allowed. She is against the arranged marriage to a man twice her age.(she was one and he was two at the time). It is pointed out that at her university where no men are allowed that they wake at cock crow every morning. When the prince asked if male poultry are allowed then, her father replies that it is done by "an accomplished hen!".

Two clips from Princess Ida
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bRG2Lqx_Z8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKoaAXk7G-4

If you wonder about the staging these were from the centennial tv broadcast versions. Now apart from the jabs ay feminists of the time there was this one of the lines in a song was "the n-word they will be bleaching" this was replaced with t"they will be practicing what they're preaching".
Same thing happened in the Mikado in "I have a Little list" one line says, "the n-word serenader and the others of his race" this was changed to "banjo" . When did these changes occur way back in the 1890's as not to offend American audiences.
Just to give an idea of what the composers were like you should look up Topsy Turvy. It also gives you the idea of why this is favorite of many. Yeoman of the Guard may be their Hamlet and The Gondoliers their best musically but the Mikado is in the top three most performed.
Gilbert instructing on how he wants this to be "REAL' Japanese from Topsy Turvy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S647is8rvvM
If you want to go by a traditional staging was like see below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOzNAKPCR80

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgBT55lEhUc
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Posted 9/20/15
I'm kinda surprised they didn't ask James Hong what he thought about this.

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36 / M / Houston, Texas
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Posted 9/20/15
Well if they shut it down they shut it down. They didn't have to shut
it down but they did. People complain about a lot of stuff doesn't
mean you should stop what you want to do. Not saying anythings
right or wrong as long as no one (government) is forcing them to
not do what they want theres no problem too me. They caved in
to someone elses opinion they didn't have too.

The PC will continue as long as society allows it. Remember
comedy from the 70's and 80's? No way it would work today.
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Posted 9/20/15 , edited 9/20/15

bufoman wrote:

Seems a production of it was pulled in all places NYC, for fear of causing offense.

‘Mikado’ Production Canceled Over Racial Concerns
By MICHAEL COOPER SEPTEMBER 18, 2015 11:16 AM September 18, 2015 11:16 am 11 Comments


A production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” planned for New York this December was canceled after it drew criticism over how its largely non-Asian cast planned to portray the stereotyped Japanese characters and culture that are often seen as central to the work, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players announced on their website.

The troupe “never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt” the show this December, the troupe’s executive director, David Wannen, wrote in a statement on the website. The company plans to mount another popular Gilbert and Sullivan work, “The Pirates of Penzance,” in its place for six performances at the Skirball Center at New York University from Dec. 26 through Jan. 2.

The decision was announced as many arts organizations are rethinking how they stage classic works that portray different races and cultures onstage in ways that are now seen as racist or offensive, in an effort to keep the jarring aspects from getting in the way of what makes those works great. When the Metropolitan Opera opens its season next week with a new production of Verdi’s “Otello,” it will break a long performance tradition by not using dark makeup on its tenor, a practice that has uncomfortable echoes of minstrelsy and blackface.

“The Mikado” poses special problems: it has some of the most beautiful music and wittiest lyrics of any Gilbert and Sullivan work, but its use of a fictional Japanese setting to satirize British culture presents staging challenges if it is not to come off as a jumble of ugly caricatures and stereotypes. A production last year in Seattle was criticized as “yellowface” by a columnist in The Seattle Times, setting off a wide-ranging discussion of the work.

After promotional materials for the planned New York production that appeared to show a mostly white cast in yellowface began to draw criticism, the company announced earlier this week that it would abolish such makeup for the revival. But a few days later they announced plans to scrap the production altogether.

“We will now look to the future, focusing on how we can affect a production that is imaginative, smart, loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan’s beautiful words, music, and story, and that eliminates elements of performance practice that are offensive,’’ Mr. Wannen wrote online.

“Thanks to all for the constructive criticism,’’ he went on. “We sincerely hope that the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan remains a source of joy for many generations to come.”


http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/mikado-production-canceled-over-racial-concerns/?emc=eta1&_r=1


So what do you all think?



The play itself is a product of its time. Which means, yeah, it's probably racist as hell. But should it be performed?Who the hell even goes to operas? I'm not going to say yes or no, because:

1. I know jack about opera.

2. I'm not Asian, and never have seen The Mikado, so I really can't say if its offensive or not.


I will say this though:

In order to progress, we should look at things like the Mikado and things to do with the Civil War, for example, as artifacts of their time and keep them around to learn what NOT to do for future generations. And also to show future generations, 'Yes, things were like this years ago, hard to believe, but look at how far we've come.. instead of banning things because 'ITZ RACIST/MISOGYNIST/HOMOPHOBIC/TRIGGERS MEEEEEE
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Posted 9/20/15
As to whether or not "The Mikado" is racist...not really. The characters in it are all stand-ins for members of English society at the time; the setting exists as a way to make fun of them outside of directly saying "Hey, those politicians sure are stuffy and prone to following stupid, archaic rules". All of the stereotypes in the musical are stereotypes about English people, not Japanese people. You might as well argue that "The Crucible" is bigoted against Puritans.

Now, if you get into the *staging* of it...that gets a little trickier. "Yellowface" isn't necessarily intended as racist; then again, neither is "blackface", but you aren't very likely to get away with it without someone complaining. The problem is that the main characters in the story are ostensibly supposed to be Japanese, but are traditionally played by white people. I'm willing to bet that at least a few of the people reading this had a certain reaction when they saw the casting for the Last Airbender movie a couple years ago, so you might be able to understand why that's at least a little weird, even if it isn't intentionally offensive.

It makes it an awkward sort of work, since the play is essentially a bunch of English people dressing up in Japanese costumes and acting out a satire of English politics and society, but it isn't really about England, because they're wearing costumes. At the same time, it *is* white people pretending to be Japanese people in a comedy, which is something a lot of people might be uncomfortable with. So you could use a white cast, but it isn't "really about them", or you could use a Japanese cast (or, more realistically, a cast consisting of a wide range of Asians, possibly one of whom is Japanese), but it isn't "really about them", either.

Generally speaking, I tend to sit with the idea that it could be staged in either manner, but if you're going to cast a white cast, it would probably be a good idea to explain the historical context of why a white cast is being used. I mean, for that matter, you could cast with an all-black cast if you really wanted, though it would likely still benefit with an explanation of the history of the play. The play's been performed in enough high schools and colleges over the years, I'm sure that any race/gender you would like has played Yum-Yum or Pooh-Bah at some point.
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Posted 9/20/15 , edited 9/20/15

SurvivingHorror wrote:
People aren't allowed to have an opposing opinion from you without being labeled something? Are people like you really that simple minded?


Even if intended as a real question, asking if someone is "simple minded" comes across as rhetorical and as an insult. It's the equivalent of saying "Are you stupid?" It's not common to ask that with any sincerity; it's said to imply that the person is stupid. Please refrain from doing that in the forums, and stick to the subject matter.


Were not living in a world that's more sensitive, were just living in a world where insensitive people aren't the only people out there who can use their voices.


Thank you for saying this. I too am dismayed at how replete the CR forums are with dismissive anti-"SJW" sentiment and the like. I've no doubt there are some folks out there who are truly oversensitive and being loud about it, but what I get a much stronger impression of is a knee-jerk reaction of other people to anyone who is just asking folks (many of whom are having a darned hard time seeing beyond their privilege, or sticking so much as a toe outside of their comfort zone) to stop and think about things a bit beyond a surface level. To stop and think about how their words and actions have an impact on others. Being sensitive is not a bad thing; it's can lead to improving conditions for a wider range of people.

I should say something more on topic about the Mikado subject, but I've run out of time (my dirty dishes are waiting.)
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Posted 9/20/15
It's too bad.

It had a lot of great songs.
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Posted 9/20/15
Reportedly, even the Japanese diplomats who went to see the premiere of the Mikado recognized it was making fun of English government and society, not Japanese. Just saying.

But having said that, it might be time to reconsider how we present such older works, when they bother people today. If the only thing presenting "The Mikado" does is cause arguments, then it isn't doing what Gilbert and Sullivan wanted their operas to do, which was to get people to laugh at themselves.
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Posted 9/20/15

Nogara-san wrote:
The play itself is a product of its time. Which means, yeah, it's probably racist as hell. But should it be performed?Who the hell even goes to operas? I'm not going to say yes or no, because:

1. I know jack about opera.

2. I'm not Asian, and never have seen The Mikado, so I really can't say if its offensive or not.


I notice those who are taking this question with the most ponderous social seriousness are those who claim they've never seen it in their lives.
Take that as you will. I sure as heck know how I'M taking it.

So here, this time have one from Topsy Turvy, on me--Try either that or the '41 version, you'll like it. (And it's not "opera", it's operetta.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbE0wZaXiLI
Sogno- 
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Posted 9/20/15 , edited 9/22/15
oh so not Mikado from Drr!...
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34 / F / In a van down by...
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Posted 9/21/15
whatever. Take it as you want.

Thank you for the link though! I'll check it out. I like period movies.
zalbik 
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Posted 9/21/15

VZ68 wrote:



Have we really come all the way around to this again already?


Yep

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Posted 9/21/15

Sogno- wrote:

oh so not Mikado from Drr!...


Have you seen the first episode? He's totally racist. Kappa.
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