History of Race and Ethnicity in UK Film and TV:
- The first full length TV documentary programme to talk about Black immigrants in Britain was Special Enquiry: Has Britain A Colour Bar? (31 Jan 1955)- Important on this is because it provoked emotive responses from many White viewers who felt that it was a defense of Black people in its acknowledgement that racial discrimination existed in Britain.
- The first programme to recognize that a space should be created for a specific racial audience was Asian Club (BBC, 1953-1961)- Important on this is because this programme did indicate that efforts were being made to address non-English viewers.
- John Hopkins’ British-based anti-apartheid play Fable (BBC 1, 1965)- Important on this is because the show marked a racial use of form and content compared to the dominant representations of ‘race’ and hallmark of documentary realism hitherto deployed in race relations discourses.
- BBC set up the Independent Programmes Complaints Commision in October 1977- Important on this is because BBC would consider viewers’ complaints about particular radio and TV broadcast that can grow debate about the role of TV in social life.
- In 1978, the soon-to-be-elected Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, echoed Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech when she spoke of the threat of being ‘swamped by alien cultures’- Important on this is because many people including Asian, African and Caribbean people in 1980s Britain began to use the collective term ‘Black’ as a political term.
- Formation of Channel 4 in1982- Important on this is because Channel 4 is the first TV channel that set up for Black audiences, this provide a space for Black people to express their views in Britain.
- Channel 4 and Black British independent film practices- Important on this is because in the 1980s, contestation over national identity increasingly developed as a central political and social issue and as a preoccupation of emerged forms of representation.
- Formation of Channel 5- Deregulation and the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996)
Why do we not commonly talk of ‘white’ as racial marker?
– Invisibility of whiteness in popular culture means that ‘to say one is interested in race has come to mean that one is interested in any racial imagery other than that of white people’
– While whiteness is invisible, its sheer presence, if thoroughly assessed, could be found in many, if not all western texts, which speaks volumes about the integration between the culture of whiteness and the dominant culture
– ‘There is no more powerful position than that of being ‘just’ human’. The voice of white people has come to speak for the whole of humanity. Though we are brought up with enough ideologies from social institutions to accept the dominance of white culture to such a degree that no racial marker is needed in discourse to actually set ‘white’ standards as the human race’s standards.
– There is the recognition that white people don’t see their white privilege, and that ‘whiteness is nothing in particular’. How could one use whiteness as any mean of social measure when there is not one with which to identify, at least according to their western values?
The US TV show Friends (1994-2004) often draws criticism regarding its all white cast. Black characters from time to time are just one-off characters who often tread in the footstep of widely known stereotypes such as the loudmouth nurses, tough-as-nail bosses or dancers. It is not until its ninth year running that Friends finally introduce to viewers a reoccurring and significant love interest for some of its cast.