— THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Last night I looked at THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU on TV, partly because it starred Peter Sellers as both Dr. Fu and his enemy Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard, and partly because I wanted to compare the epic battle between Fu and Smith with the current rumble between Dubya and Osama bin Laden.
I have long regarded Dr Fu as both archetype and stereotype — the incarnation of British fear of Oriental revenge for imperialist invasions. Osama fits that role very well indeed, and the Dubya/Smith parallel came across with almost synchronistic shock:
“The difference between Fu and me,” Smith sez, “is that I’m Good and he’s Evil.”
Have Dubya’s speech-writers read the original Fu novels or just seen this film?
Unlike the novels, the film does not portray Dr Fu as driven by “motiveless malignancy” [like Dubya explaining Osama: “He is a man who is an evil man.”] On the contrary, Fu has a personal grudge we can understand: as a boy he had to work in his father’s laundry at Eton, and starching all those white collars drove him bonkers. That makes more sense to me as a novelist than the unmotivelated malice of Osama, as portrayed by Dubya, CNN and the other corporate spin doctors.
Fear not, O true believers: the film didn’t mention imperialism, any more than the novels — or Dubya’s speech-writers.
Meanwhile, another of my favorite villians has resurfaced:
THE FIENDISH PLOT OF MING THE MERCILESS
Adapted from the Irish Times 5 Nov 2001
The cannabis campaigner, “Ming the Merciless”, has been arrested in Dublin this afternoon in connection with posting what is believed to be cannabis too close to 300 politicians and journalists.
He was detained while attempting to hand deliver a potted cannabis plant to the offices of a senior Government Minister,and taken to Pearse Street Garda station where he is being held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Earlier today, several letters containing what is believed to be cannabis and addressed to politicians at their offices were discovered by officials checking the post following recent anthrax scares.
“Ming the Merciless”, whose real name is Luke Flanagan from County Roscommon, is a well-known campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis. He ran in Galway West on a legalise cannabis ticket during the 1997 general election and also ran on the same platform in the European Parliamentary elections in the constituency of Connacht-Ulster.
Every country gets the villians it deserves. And as Joyce would say, there’s lots of fun in Flanagan’s work.