Regular viewers of the Sci-Fi Channel may have seen my ugly mug recently, maconieing on “The Flash Gordon Story” for Free@Last TV. Did the filming back in January and got to meet Peter Duncan - for almost long enough to say hello and things.
One bit they didn’t use in the final cut was my answer to the question “Isn’t Ming, you know, a bit racist?”
And the thing is, yes he is. He’s a terrible stereotype in the style of Fu Manchu and the opium-guzzling East what crops up in Sherlock Holmes and other Very British and American stories (leaving aside for the moment who it was growing and pushing the opium). But Ming is part of the naïve exoticism of Flash, where every instalment needs to be filled with colour and wild new things at which to gawp. For all Flash is not in Kansas any more, he seeks out and embraces the strange – that’s why we follow his adventures, to see what he’ll meet next. The oriental is just one of a hodge-podge of sources that make unlikely cohabitants in Flash’s stories. “Real”, lab-coated scientists get equal weighting to pointy-hatted wizards, while there’s chatty lion-headed people alongside actual lions…
Which makes Ming and his sultry daughter less the imperialist cliché of contemporary pulp shockers and like other gaudy newspaper strips of the time, such as Rupert the Bear. So Princess Aura is sort of sister to Pong Ping.
ETA: Lordy, this is my 600th post.