One warning flag raised during the writing of ‘Just for the Record‘ was the potential for perception of racism in the script. The concern was all the black characters had negative characteristics attached to them, specifically:
“There are only two black characters, one is a toilet attendant and the other is gay.”
To my mind there are several things wrong with that line of thought:
- There aren’t only two black characters – there are only two specified black characters. In other words, only two of the characters need to be black for the sake of the story. Any, all or some of the others could be black; it just doesn’t matter. Just because a character’s colour isn’t specified doesn’t automatically make him white.
“one is a toilet attendant and the other is gay.” Why equate one man’s job to another’s sexuality? That’s like saying a script is sexist because one of the women is a secretary and the other is tall. They’re two unconnected things. If you wanted to be fair about it: one is a professional and competent toilet attendant and the other is a professional and competent film editor. Even if you rate ‘toilet attendant’ as a bad job which reflects poorly on anyone choosing to do it*, it’s still balanced out by the other character having a highly skilled job. Which leads onto the third point:
Being gay isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a negative characteristic, it’s just what it is. Some people are, some people aren’t and some people don’t care whose hole they prang. So what? It’s hardly equivalent to granny-raping or kitten-tennis, is it? Being gay does not make you a bad person … mind you, it doesn’t automatically make you a good person either.
And that’s something I think sometimes cripples film makers – no (actual) negative characteristics may be assigned to any (perceived) minority. You can’t have unpleasant black, Asian, gay, lesbian, foreign, religious or (God forbid!) female characters because that’s leading down the path of an ‘ism’ … and nobody wants to be seen to be an ‘ist’.
Thing is, blacks, Asians, gays, lesbians, foreigners, the religious and women can be selfish, stupid, violent and complete cunts too.
I seem to remember ‘Smack the Pony‘ was created to fill the void of no silly women on telly. I could be wrong about that mind.
But people are afraid – let’s say you have four characters and one of them is a lying, cheating, thieving prick. I know people who would be afraid to cast a black actor for that role because it might look like they’re saying all black people are like that.
And, sadly, they are right to be afraid because people will complain.
So you cast two black people and two white people with one of the black people being a cunt and the other being a saint.
Then the Chinese get upset.
So you make two male, two female, one black, one white, one Chinese and one rainbow coloured in vertical striped. One man and one woman are gay, one man and one woman are straight. One is incredibly tall, one is incredibly short, one is incredibly slim, one is incredibly fat.
Then people complain because the black one’s fat, the white one’s short, the Chinese one’s slim and the rainbow one is just fucking stupid. And clearly an Indian guy under the make-up.
So you use CGI to even them all out.
Then you remember it’s a radio program and no one can fucking see them anyway.
Christ, why am I still typing? What was the fucking point of this post? I think I lost the thread quite a while ago now. Mind you, I’m white, middle class, straight and male so I can present myself as stupid, ignorant and as pointless as I like without fear of recrimination or being any kind of ‘ist’.
Mind you, I am ginger. Balding and greying, I give you, but it’s still a definite ginge tinge underneath. I am the last oppressed minority in Britain. The only group of people you can assign negative characteristics to on TV without anyone …
Oh no, wait, that’s not true any more, is it? Not since people misunderstood Matt Smith’s ‘Still not ginger’ line.
Oh fuck, I’ve no idea what I’m saying now. I’m just going to stop.
I think the point was racism is institutionalised in the system rather than …
No, that makes no fucking sense either.
I’ll just stop.