Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old time radio racism

Old-time radio graphic is from WhisperingRoseRadio.com.




Mr Daisy has been downloading old radio shows. Some of them are quite amazing in their xenophobia, sexism and racism.

Black Flame of the Amazon (Mutual Network, 1938) followed "world famous explorer" Harold Noice as he traveled through the Amazonian jungle, facing all manner of exciting perils and dangers. The show's cast of characters included "native guide" Keyto, young friends Jim and Jean Brady, aide Pedro, and pilot Pat Donavon.

As one of the first explorer-oriented radio programs, the characters of Jim and Jean allowed young listeners to especially relate to the story. Lots of "golly gee whiz" dialogue, putting radio-listeners in the position of the kids, experiencing the incredible wonders of South America.

Well, not all listeners.

In episode #43, we hear this conversation, as the group try to solve the crime of what happened to a white visitor, Mr Norton, who has disappeared:


Harold Noice: Yes, Jean, this is now a part of our business. We whites, no matter what part of the world that we’re in, must never forget that we are white.

Jimmy: You mean that there’s been a crime committed here?

Harold Noice: Yes Jimmy, against the white man.

Jimmy: Then there’s got to be punishment of some kind!

Harold Noice: That's secondary, Jimmy. The white man made his residence here. We have to find out what happened, find that white man. That's the white man's law in the jungle.

Jimmy: Swell, Mr. Noice! That’s swell and we’re white!
A fascinating bit of old-time radio propaganda, teaching white children our proper place in the world. And kids ate it with their breakfast cereal.

9 comments:

D. said...

Yeah. I grew up (first 13 years, anyway) with actual radio drama On The Air. and between the stereotyping (yes, I understand radio and voice characterizations and theater of the mind, but still: Boo) and the blatant racism, I think I've mostly written it off. Although I'd still like to write one. radio play...

Angel H. said...

I always listen to OTR I've downloaded online during the commute from work. (My faves are detective stories and sci-fi.) Even though I've found many gems, there is so much racism and sexism that I've learned to be more mindful of the titles of the shows I download. For me, absolutely no "Amos & Andy," "Charlie Chan," and westerns.

YogaforCynics said...

Fortunately, we live in a more enlightened age, when, instead of racist propaganda, the radio waves are alive with...Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck...hmmm...guess the more things change, the more they stay the same...

JoJo said...

OMG!!!!! That's horrible!

Back when I worked in SF, my boss showed me a California Legal Reporter book from the early 1950's. One of the opinions on one of the cases in the book kept referring to "the Japs". I was stunned.

And the first time I bought the VHS of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", I saw a scene that was never aired on TV, when Rudolph's father tells the mom & Clarice to stay at the cave, because going to find Rudolph was "man's work". And that was 1964.

Rachel said...

(insert shocked smiley)
(insert smiley stabbing itself in the face with a pen)

DAMN...

Jojo...that "man's work" thing sounds awfully familiar...have I seen that one, I wonder? Or just get that general message from the edited version? I can't remember...

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Wow ... I think I may have been rendered speechless by that.

Old Time Radio said...

Its interesting to hear these old time radio shows and their sometimes very dated perspectives on the world.

A full episode from 1938 (including source of the full original quoted text) can be heard from the Old Time Radio (OTRCAT.com) website:

http://www.otrcat.com/black-flame-amazon-p-48496.html

JoJo said...

Rachel - I didn't remember it from all the times I watched Rudolph on TV, and I can do all the dialog from that particular special too. But the VHS/DVD version has the entire, original and uncut special. I suspect that bits and pieces were removed over the years so that they could cram in more commercials. If you have kids and they have been watching it on TV over the past few years, it's possible that the entire special is shown uncut.

Rachel said...

I don't have kids, but I do have the DVD :p ...so it must be the same uncut edit you have. So that makes sense that I do sort of remember seeing it, since, in fact, I did see it...