Ming the Merciless Canadian

Nothing against the actor, but this is just wrong.

If they were that concerned about political correctness, they should have just made him a talking vase.

28 Responses to “Ming the Merciless Canadian”

  1. Dwight Williams Says:


  2. Forrest Says:

    At least they didn’t cast Scott Bakula…

    …but what in the name of Klaus Wulfenbach have they done to Dr Zarkov?!

  3. Nat Gertler Says:

    What, you’re assuming he’ll be Ming The Officious And Vaguely Impolite?

    Remember, when you’re assuming, you’re making an ass of u and ming!

    (I cannot accept the name of the gal playing Baylis.

  4. Matt M. Says:

    Are you kidding me? That’s the best screen name ever!

    But I’m still not gonna watch the show.

  5. Dwight Williams Says:

    We’ve had our Ruthless People. Look up Frederick Charles Blair and Duncan Campbell Scott to name two particularly nasty examples. Sadly, they were probably as polite as they were ruthless. Grand Moff Tarkin probably took lessons from them.

  6. gordon Says:

    I guess at least 5 other people know what you’re talking about…

  7. Beth Says:

    Hey, Gordon, I don’t have a clue either. I suspect there’s some HTML boo-boo that let’s the other see what we can’t.

  8. Alex Krislov Says:

    No, no, this is a great idea! Consider the opportunities:

    Fu Man Schwartz, Dictator of Flatbush!

    Tarzan of the Caucasoids!

    Genhis Scalopini!

  9. Alex Krislov Says:

    Beth and Gordon: click on “this” in the first line. Or just click on this: http://www.scifi.com/flashgordon/cast/ming/index.html

  10. Starocotes Says:

    I guess Beth and Gordon DID klick on the link but don’t find anythjing wrong with the fact that a canadian plays the role of someone who REALLY should be played by someone who at least remotely resembles someone from Mongolia.

  11. Charles Bryan Says:

    I read somewhere (maybe TV Guide, maybe Entertainment Weekly) in a description of the show, that this new Flash Gordon will occasionally need to be rescued by ex-girlfriend Dale Arden. Yeesh.

    I’ll give them a pass on the Ming casting, though. I don’t doubt that there was a “yellow peril” aspect to the original character, and there’s no point in continuing that, unless Flash Gordon is a metaphor for protectionist economic policies.

    It probably would have been better to just develop a new villain — one that would be able to stand up to the bravery and resourcefulness of Ms. Arden.

  12. gordon Says:

    Dear Starocotes

    I didn’t see a link to click on.

    I had no idea what the post was about.


    Since you don’t identify yourself I have to assume you don’t know me at all.


  13. gordon Says:

    Just clicked on the “this” and yes it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all…

    I have no idea who decided on this casting choice, but I put forward at least ONE possible reason for the seeming insensitivity/blockheaded choice:

    Fear that casting an Asian as Ming would cause people to react to a “stereotype.”

    I’m not saying this is a good reason, just a potential one.


  14. Micah Says:

    How about have Flash Gordon as a woman? And maybe make her asian too, just to make amends for the old show. Ms. Arden could remain a woman and this empowered lesbian couple could go about saving the universe from the white, male patriarchy. Now that’s a show!

  15. Jeff Z Says:

    He could be changed to MIG the merciless- a Transformer- style creature who becomes a commie jet…

  16. Starocotes Says:

    No gordon, I don’t know you. I had trouble seeing what Steve was refering too even after I clicked the link and after I found out I wanted to “share” me wisdom. This is an inherent character flaw of mine 🙂

  17. gordon Says:

    It’s okay…

    I have been known to have the same flaw. :>)

  18. Strange Girl In A Stranger Land Says:

    I, for one, am happy to see someone exposing Canadians for the pale peril they truly are. Bravo SciFi! Once the secret gets out we can all sleep beter at night.

  19. Forrest Says:

    Given the vacuintensity of that program I expect a class action lawsuit against the Sci Fi Channel on behalf of every audience member who lost one or more eyeballs during the course of the infestivities.

  20. Bgztl (Jack Holt) Says:

    You know. . . Originally, I sort of scoffed at the Sam Jones version of Flash Gordon. But nowadays the Queen soundtrack reverberates in my ead and it SEEMS liek the best version. Buster Crabbe be damned.


    I know.

    The Sci-Fi Channel’s version just doesn’t cut it with me. Flash Gordon is eiter quaint or high camp. I’m not sure we should try to make him serious.

    I mean Sherlock Homes could be a tedious Victorian moralist convinced the “brown devils” were coming to kill us all. But he wasn’t. and his image has survived because we DIDN’t recreate him too much.

    I think the Sci-Fi chanel’s version is a bit too serious.

    What about a retro Flash? A man from the 1920’s –a real flesh and blood man from the 1920’s — thrust into the space-faring world of Mango??? That’s gold IMO.

  21. Bgztl (Jack Holt) Says:

    Also as to Ming — It’s Flash who sees him as “oriental”. Ming is really just all our secret fears of the unknown and authoritariansims rolled into one. But. . . in the scripts, he’s really just an alien.




    Maybe somebody should play with that!!

  22. Strange Girl In A Stranger Land Says:

    Since he’s not a rung, we might try Asian.

  23. Bgztl (Jack Holt) Says:

    Strange Girl In A Stranger Land Says:
    August 10th, 2007 at 11:19 pm
    Since he’s not a rug, we might try Asian.<<

    “We” might. But that’s the point. Flash was created in a different time. Ming doesn’t have to be anything other than alien and merciless. For people of the time, the “shorthand” way to portray this was to make Ming look faintly “Asian” (if you prefer– although we’re really meaning Mongolian or Chinese; Asia is a big place and includes many races)

    I think the distinction you’re making is relatively recent and is actually a reaction to how people used to use the term “Oriental” as a term of contempt:

    For example, the Merriam-Webster dictionary continues to list:

    Main Entry: ori·en·tal
    Pronunciation: “or-E-‘en-t&l
    Function: adjective
    1 often capitalized : of, relating to, or situated in Asia
    2 a : of superior grade, luster, or value b : being corundum or sapphire but simulating another gem in color
    3 often capitalized, sometimes offensive : ASIAN
    4 capitalized : of, relating to, or constituting the biogeographic region that includes Asia south and southeast of the Himalayas and the Malay Archipelago west of Wallace’s line

    Time has a nice Archive of its old articles and you can really get a flavor of the times reading them.

    Here’s just one of the doozies you can pull up that talks about the Japanese “humiliating white Europeans in front of” –gasp, O, readers of Time, we shudder to report the horror of the moment — “Orientals!!”:


    You can almost hear the dramatic musical score. People in this country at that time usually viewed “Asians” (and here, at last, we probably mean ALL Asians) with fear and/or contempt.

    Anyway, as you can see from the definition, the word “oriental” was neutral and applied to people and rugs!! People made the word racist on their own, by their attitudes. We give the word it’s power.

  24. Charles Bryan Says:

    To Bgtzl (Jack Holt): I should thank you for the analysis, but mostly I thank you for clarifying that the word “rug” was intended. I looked at “rung” for a few moments (my official internet attention span) and couldn’t figure out what it meant.

    To Steve: Maybe everybody got it and felt no need to mention their appreciation, but I enjoyed the “vase” joke.

  25. Bgztl (Jack Holt) Says:

    To Bgtzl (Jack Holt): I should thank you for the analysis, but mostly I thank you for clarifying that the word “rug” was intended. I looked at “rung” for a few moments (my official internet attention span) and couldn’t figure out what it meant.

    De nada. As the king of typos, I can’t criticize anyone. But Characters like Flash Gordon, Blackhawk and others from that era fascinate me because they use stereotypes so unself-consciously. It’s always a little jarring.

    But If we update Ming to today. . . pointy-eared Vulcan-type with maybe an llower brow would also work, no? A little alien but earthly enough to be comprehensible. And until we discover pointy-eared aliens, not exactly a stereotype. The Canadian thing did kind of throw me though. Just not menacing or mean enough.

    They could have made him a pudgy little Swiss chocolatier and made him more threatening!! I can see it all now:

    Ming chooses to invade the earth by taking over the world’s chocolate supply — starting with Europe.

    Ming: “You will eat the chocolate bar, Gordon. First you. Then Zarkov. Then the entire world!!”

    Flash: “Never. It’ll go straight to my thighs!!”

    Ming (posing dramtically and waving his fist in the air):”Eat the schokolade, Gordon! E-e-e-e-e-at!!!” 😀

  26. Forrest Says:

    Just to get it out of my mind:

    I Am Merciless (Canadian)

  27. Charles Bryan Says:

    Given the number of truly scary Canadians that I’ve seen play hockey, this decision may not be that much of a stretch. I’ve also been frequently frightened by Martin Short.

    Actually, if we update Ming to today and want ratings, casting an Amazon-like sexpot with a black leather wardrobe would have been the best plan. The actress who played Anna Espinoza on Alias would be excellent. (Is her name Gina Torres? Too lazy to Google, that’s me.)

    I’ll refrain from sample dialogue for the good of all concerned.

  28. Ryan Speck Says:

    Perhaps they should have spent more time on writing and less on “reinvention” of stereotypes.

    The pilot was probably one of the worst things I’ve seen on television in the past 10 years.

    And that includes reality shows on MTV.