Criticism rages at racist name of The Dambusters dog

by Leanne Thompson on May 7, 2009

The remake of the 1954 film The Dambusters is costing millions of pounds, but the debate of the day is whether or not the name of a major character’s dog should be changed for not being politically correct.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s faithful companion and the RAF 617 Squadron’s mascot was a black Labrador named Nigger.  New Zealander producer Peter Jackson is passionate about staying faithful to the authentic details of the war story but others insist the dog’s name is racially offensive, particularly in the United States market.  The film has a £26 million budget and is backed by Hollywood studios, and the debate over the name of the dog rages on.

In the original, Nigger was mentioned twelve times and features prominently in Paul Brickhall’s book, upon which the film is based.

Scriptwriter Stephen Fry was asked to come up with different names for Nigger, but executive producer Sir David Frost has reportedly rejected them all and was quoted as saying:

“Guy sometimes used to call his dog Nigsy, so I think that’s what we will call it.  Stephen has been coming up with other names but this is the one I want.”

Matthew Dravitzki, Jackson’s executive assistant, said: “A lot of people have said that the dog’s name was Nigger and, to stay true to the story, you can’t just change it.  ..The script is still being written and that decision on whether we have Nigger or not will be made closer to the time.”

Peter Jackson is said to have sought to make the film because of his interest in the subject; he has a collection of Second World War memorabilia and aeroplanes.  When announcing his plans in 2006, he stated:

“It is not our intention to offend people. But really you are in a no-win, damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t scenario.  If you change it, everyone’s going to whinge and whine about political correctness. And if you don’t change it, obviously you are offending a lot of people inadvertently.”

Interestingly, the dog’s name has been either altered or edited out completely in recent television showing of the 1954 film and an edited version on American television redubs Nigger’s name as Trigger.

Is this political correctness gone mad, or what do you think?

1 Comment »

  1. Guy Gibson was a hero, in a time of heros. He named his dog, so lets not change it. Listen to any top 10 rap artist & go figure wether the word is hateful. Should we perhaps change the name of the country that they were fighting against to some thing else so as not to offend the Germans. Lets have a sensible moment & let the film go ahead with historical accuracy.

    Comment by Seton — May 7, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

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