Western classics are over
Why the ARD “Winnetou” no longer appears
26-08-2022, 10:31 am
In the midst of the debate as to whether “Winnetou’s” stories are still relevant today, news breaks that ARD will no longer be broadcasting the Karl May classic. But that could also have to do with licensing issues.
Tens of millions of Germans grew up with “Winnetou”. Whether it concerns books by Karl May, radio plays about the Apache chef or of course the legendary films from the sixties. The debate has become all the more heated and emotional since Ravensburger publishers pulled two “Winnetou” books from sale over accusations of racism.
If you believe a survey by the Yougov opinion poll, an overwhelming majority of 68 percent of Germans think the publisher’s decision was wrong. Only 13 percent supported it, while the remaining respondents gave no information.
Against this background, this message is likely to generate resentment: ARD has also dug up the hatchet against “Winnetou”. But rather quiet. As reported by the newspaper “Bild”, the public broadcaster has confirmed on request that the Karl May films with Pierre Brice in the role of the Apache chief will no longer be broadcast by an ARD station.
Licenses expire in 2020
However, the report leaves open whether this has anything to do with the smoldering debate about the historical portrayal of other cultures, with accusations ranging from alleged ‘cultural appropriation’ to racism looming. It is said that ARD had already let the licenses for the “Winnetou” films expire in 2020 and currently has no plans to renew them.
In other words, the Public Services Association no longer owns the rights to broadcast the Western classics that have been running in a loop on the ARD’s third programs or special channels for more than 50 years – and not just at Christmas. However, the “Bild” report also says that ZDF, which is also public, will continue to show “Winnetou” films “in the coming years.”
Whatever the exact reason for the ARD decision may have been, it will likely reopen the discussion, which has long gone beyond the Karl May stories and also raises the question of whether the term “Indians” should be wiped out, heating up vigorously. . The warpath between “Winnetou” nostalgia and “awakened” critics must be over.