Is it really that Black and White?

Lenny Henry has hit out against the British television industry, declaring it unjust that the cast of popular T.V shows is predominantly white. Vocalising his frustration that the industry is made up of just 5.4% BAME people, he says things need to change.

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As probably seen on my previous posts, I am all for equality and any kind of discrimination is completely unacceptable to me.

production excluded) I have to disagree. It’s not in a racist manner in any degree, its just that shows such as Broadchurch, based in a little English town, would not be factually accurate if the cast was 50% BAME. Little towns like these are not very diverse, it only becomes so when you come to more urban cities and towns, so it could be argued that viewing quality would be affected.

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Furthermore, I am a huge fan of the show The Vampire Diaries and often it jumps back to the past, to reflect on days gone by.

Historically, in the US and UK especially, slavery was a massive controversy and in the 1900’s black people were oppressed. Yet in many programmes they are often portrayed as working class or wealthy individuals, which was not the case for most; this has most likely been done by production companies to avoid offending their audiences.

In regards to TV shows where the casts ethnicity doesn’t affect the storyline in any way, it is right that Lenny Henry should fight for the rights of BAME people. However, sometimes a white ensemble is used because it’s true to the story and as realistic as possible. Shows sometimes need to focus on being believable rather than whether or not it may upset someone.

Wherever you go, the film and TV industry will reflect their cliché “native” citizens of the country:

Japan-the cast will be predominantly Japanese.

Mexico and Spain-the cast will be predominantly Hispanic.

India-the cast will be predominantly Indian.

This is not due to racism, it’s just down to the fact that in these countries, Japanese, Hispanic and Indian people are of the majority, as is true of England. We are a diverse society and we welcome anyone who settles in our country, but in essence, there are (factually) more white people in Britain than BAME. So it makes sense that shows like Broadchurch reflect this fact to keep an essence of realism.

People have equal opportunity in Britain and there is no discrimination against the BAME  population when comes to casting people for TV. It’s just that sometimes, appropriateness needs to be taken into account and someone may not be right for certain roles.

The boundaries are blurred most of the time because political correctness always forgets to wear it’s glasses.

Lenny Henry should definitely fight for equal chances but it needs to be realised that it’s not always possible.

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9 thoughts on “Is it really that Black and White?

  1. Growing up in a multi-racial family and always having friends and neighbors that were a mix of colors and cultures I totally agree with him. There are seeminlgy endless shows portraying light skinned people and hardly anyone else. The lack of diveristy is one main reason I stopped consuming mass media. It’s boring to see the same looks in shows and movies. We live in a diverse world and TV should reflect that.
    As for the image you placed at the bottom of this post don’t you think it’s ridiculous being proud of your skin color? That’s not an accomplishment. We don’t earn our skin colors and there is bad and good traits from people of every skin color so it’s a wierd thing to be proud of. If anything it’s just another way to encourage racism. If I wanted to be proud of being “white” I’d have to disregard my father and all my other mixed heritage.

    • Thats the point. Its irrelevant what skin colour you are, its about the talent, but some shows cant help but be an majority white cast because they want their show to be based on fact and it is just the truth as i say that in some places there are very few BAME people. Noone is trying to be racist so it shouldnt be given that label but i think he should fight all the way for change

  2. I know where you’re coming from, and there is simple logic in what you say. Production companies simply have to ensure that there is a sufficiently representative percentage of the many and various (especially in our countries !) ethnic groups in relevant areas.
    There have been MANY shows about black people; and in them we rarely see a white person.
    Seems it’s all or nothing; but if productions show the various groups as extras or featured extras, and as characters where it’s relevant, I don’t know that there’s a justifiable whinge.

    • Exactly, the if they were to change things, then theyd be changing percentages unevenly and this isnt the case. In some shows white people are portayed negatively (save the last dance eg) and noone bats an eyelid. Its not racism and never will be, its just the way of the draw. Brad pitt doesnt target Bollywood because there aren’t many white people in the productions, isnt it the same thing?

  3. You raise some interesting points. You can’t simply ditch historical accuracy for political correctness. We have come a long way though. I recently watched an old movie . . . maybe Flower Drum Song?, where they had made up an American star to look oriental because at that time they simply didn’t hire Asian actors. It looked ridiculous.

    • We have come a long way and often it’s forgotten. I do agree with him, but at the same time, you can’t have everything. Women were discriminated against just as much yet we are still degraded in real life, just as much as we are on television.

  4. Pretty much totally agree with this. Political correctness is an impossible balancing act, generally it’s the things that don’t worry about trying to please everyone that are successful.

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