Whats wrong with the programmes we have?
the families of White tourists with no recognition of the thousands of people in
the UK from the countries affected, worrying about loved ones.)
Other areas of programme-making rarely seem to acknowledge the diversity of
the audience who might be watching or listening. One of the recurring themes in
my interviews was that broadcasters fail to acknowledge the fact that Britain
today is composed of many more people who have roots in other countries and
who are sensitive to how those countries are portrayed.
Broadcasters need to wake up to the fact that Mark Tully or William
Dalrymples view of India or Bob Geldofs view of Africa are simply not
sufficiently nuanced for many people in the audience today. We need a
wider range of perspectives and narratives that acknowledge this reality. -
? Stuck at explaining minorities to mainstream
Audiences are always assumed to be homogeneous and White and able-bodied so
even the few programmes which specifically feature people from minorities are
often designed to explain them to this imagined mainstream audience. The Great
British Asian Invasion was an entertaining example of this.
I was quite determined to make it an upbeat film and a kind of
users guide so that it was aimed at the White population, it wasnt
aimed at Asians. There was very little in it that the Asian community
wouldnt know, there wasnt a new story in there. It was for other
viewers: start here, you have seen them but you dont really know
much about them and we will give you a little potted history and
engage you. - Independent TV producer
There is a reluctance to have disabled people dictating how stories
about disabled people are told. Youve got to realise who these
programmes are for...Were trying to get to a mainstream audience.
Youre forever trying to explain yourself as if you are an alien or
some kind of threat so that you have to neuter it. - Writer
? Look whos laughing
The issue of the imagined audience came up several times in the context of
comedy and the targets of a performers jokes. Comedy producers tend to defend
their shows saying anyone is a fair target, its all about context. We have moved
on from the days of Bernard Manning- type racist and sexist humour being
considered acceptable but a lot of comedy now sends up the idea of political
correctness, still making jokes about race or sexuality or disability but in a
knowing we can all take it now way. Sometimes the justification is that the target
is actually the person uttering the racist or homophobic lines. Other times it
seems to be a matter of simply not challenging the material of anyone who is a
powerful star, a valued audience-puller. No one I interviewed was in favour of
censorship but there was a widespread feeling that race or disability-related
humour was still often crude and unfunny as well as pointlessly hurtful. It was
also thought to add fuel to the sort of playground and workplace barbs that many
people from minorities still experience.
Such jokes were also seen as a way of keeping minorities at the margins while
reinforcing the homogeneity of the core audience.