Flash Gordon gets warning for 'potentially offensive' Ming the Merciless
The BBFC said Ming the Merciless was "coded as an East Asian character because of his hair and makeup."
In older films, warnings of racism and stereotypes could be added after British film censors said Ming the Merciless was "dubious, if not downright offensive" in the 1980s.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) added a warning of "discriminatory stereotypes" for the recent re-release of the film.
Ming had an East Asian appearance and was played by the Swede Max Von Sydow.
Next year the BBFC will look into how to deal with stereotypes in other old films.
The organization gave Flash Gordon a 12A rating for its remake - stricter than the A rating it received when it was originally released, roughly equivalent to a PG today.
Matt Tindall, the BBFC's senior policy officer, said this was due to the outdated portrayal of Flash Gordon's archenemy, as well as some violence and poor language.
He said: "Ming the Merciless is coded as an East Asian character because of his hair and makeup, but he is played by a Swedish actor in the film, he is played by Max Von Sydow, which I don't think would happen if this would be a modern production, and we are also aware that viewers might find dubious, if not downright offensive things.
"The character of Ming is, of course, taken from the 1930s Flash Gordon comics and series, and let's just say attitudes towards accepting discriminatory racial stereotypes have evolved significantly since then, and rightly so of course."
"Not acceptable to the modern audience"
Earlier this year, Gone With The Wind had added a warning to US streaming service HBO Max that the 1939 film "denies the horrors of slavery."
And in 1936 the BBFC upgraded the Musical Show Boat from a U to a PG for "stereotypes, language and behavior that are not appropriate for U according to our current guidelines".
Speaking on a BBFC podcast, Mr Tindall said, "This is something we often have to consider when watching older films for reclassification - films that might contain discriminatory depictions or stereotypes that are unacceptable to modern audiences, including films where Discrimination was not the intent of the work, just a reflection of the time in which it was done.
"This is an issue that we are currently looking to explore more closely through research over the next year. We are speaking to the public to see if they are satisfied with the classification of such films and the classification of discrimination issues in general." ""
Last year it was reported that Flash Gordon was being remade as animation with Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.
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Max von Sydow
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