BBC stars ‘blacked up’ controversy


by Rumbold
28th December, 2010 at 10:39 am    

Having watched Little Britain once, briefly, I have been fortunate to have escaped it ever since. It came across as unpleasant and unfunny, and it seems that the show’s creators have continued in the same vein with their recent Christmas Day special. Matt Lucas and David Walliams decided to ‘black up‘ in order to play a number of characters, including a black woman:

Lucas darkens his face and wears a beard to play a Muslim worker called Taaj. He also adopts a strong West Indian accent to play a black woman called Precious who works in the coffee shop.

Though the story has been mainly pushed in the Daily Mail, which has a vendetta against the BBC, the reaction of the BBC’s spokesman was pretty weak:

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Come Fly With Me had a huge audience and many people loved it. ‘Matt and David play all the characters and they are representing a multicultural society. They are not setting out to offend people.’

“Representing a multicultural society” by ‘blacking up’? Oh dear. One of the main problems with ‘blacking up’ or blackface’ is its historical legacy. Most prominent in America as a way of perpetuating negative stereotypes of black men (and women), it also came to this country mainly in the form of the Black and White Minstrel show. Many people found it offensive at the time and still do so today. Nor is this the first time Little Britain has used ‘blacked up’ characters.


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  1. Jack Hart — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:48 am  

    Personally I feel these criticisms are being created to cause a negative reaction. If that many people had supposedly found the episodes offensive they would have complained to the BBC – which so far they don’t appear to have done.

    Comparing it to the Black and White Minstrel show is entirely unfair and I disagree with your sentiment that ‘many people found it offensive at the time’ as we did not have a multicultural society then, nor an understanding of the offence we could cause. I really think you’re simply looking for a reason to get whipped up into hysteria.

    While I didn’t find Little Britain amusing, I did enjoy Come Fly With Me. That doesn’t make me a racist, is simply allowed me to enjoy something I found amusing. How far are you planning on going with this? The next time a comedian feigns an Irish accent shall that be considered racism?

  2. Ravi Naik — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:57 am  

    I have to disagree with you, Rumbold. It would be a pity if a show mocking Britain would not include minorities in the mix – sacred cows aside, I see it as a sign of inclusion.

    The show also has a regular sketch depicting a racist called Maggie.

  3. Sarah AB — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:19 am  

    I didn’t see it but I think it’s quite significant that the same two actors have played all the main parts in their previous programmes. They regularly change their appearance to look like women (and I know some think their depictions of women are misogynist), like people of all different ages etc, after all. I’m not sure whether a particular anxiety about depicting other races is necessary – though I can see that it has some uncomfortable resonances.

  4. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:40 am  

    Most people think that humour involves laughing at other people’s faults, idiosyncrasies and general differences. When all is said and done, laughter is all we have.

    No wonder Lefties are so f**king miserable all the time.

    Chill out.

    I normally despise BBC and its left-leaning propaganda and distortion of the facts. However, they’ve got something right for a change, so credit where credit is due. If they keep this up, I may (I said may) consider paying for a TV licence.

  5. Cynical/Realist? — on 28th December, 2010 at 12:16 pm  

    I’m with Sarah AB – I can see how the blacking up has some uncomfortable resonances. But one of the black characters was a woman – you don’t seem to be criticising them for not using female actors.

    They play all the characters, not just blacking up, but cross dressing. And all are caricatures.

    Can you honestly say you never use generalisms in a joke? Or use caricatures? Or sterotypes?

    Plus, the ad stream you use to generate some revenue out of this blog is feeding in adverts for skin whitening creams. I find that far more offensive than Come Fly With Me personally.

  6. Trofim — on 28th December, 2010 at 12:27 pm  

    Ah, the old “we’ve got to be offended community” needs to notch up another case to add to their statistics.
    But I want to know why white people don’t a fair crack of the whip. Why can’t I be offended? Why do black and brown people get all the fun? Why don’t black people white up and cause me offence?

    I think it’s high time being offended was studied in detail. A preliminary step would be forming a taxonomy of “being offended” and its adjuncts. This is mine:

    Being offended: an unpleasant psycho-physiological state affecting the autonomic nervous system. Has no known lasting side-effects.
    Being offended by sympathy: a state similar to being offended above, induced by empathy with an offended person.
    Being offended by proxy: a state in which one is not offended pysiologically, but feels obliged to manifest symptoms of being offended, out of sympathy with those who are offended.
    Being offended by solidarity: one does not feel offended per se, but knows that to not appear offended could have a detrimental effect on one’s relationships with others, who are offended. That is, one goes through the motions of being offended.
    Being offended as a tactic: A more complex version of “being offended by solidarity” whereby being offended can achieve a goal. E.g. when Carol Thatcher said that a certain tennis player reminded her of a golliwog, Jo Brand managed to end her TV career by means of being offended.

    Now, if you want cheering up, listen to this offering which was on the Today programme today. It’s so offensively ludicrous, it’ll have you rolling on the floor with laughter. I’m not convinced it’s serious, but then I’m not convinced this whole post isn’t one big pastiche of the typical “oh, my feelings are so hurt” genre:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9323000/9323712.stm

  7. damon — on 28th December, 2010 at 12:44 pm  

    I didn’t think the putting on of dark makeup was the worst thing, but I can see how doing crude caricatures of people is a bit insulting. Like the character Precious. Singing hymns as she walks along … it’s not that much different to the dreadful stereotypes of African people done by Little Miss Jocelyn.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Uwl1Qbwzoo

  8. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 12:46 pm  

    You also haven’t moaned yet about Top Gear offending peace-loving, pro-integration muslims. I shall wait with bated breath.

  9. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 12:48 pm  

    Damon,

    Do you go around thinking about this crap all day? It must drive you nuts. Do you ever laugh at anything?

  10. Sarah AB — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:01 pm  

    Hi Damon – I’d never come across Little Miss Jocelyn before but after looking the programme up I thought maybe this clip was relevant to this discussion!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDW5jgLrxnY

    And here’s quite an interesting extract from an article about the show.

    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3132374.ece

    “The hidden camera stuff really does restore your faith in humanity,” she says. “Everyone is so helpful, so patient. They’re never aggressive or bigoted. This series, I do a revolting white South African character called Prim who wanders around Brixton trying to find a black maid. I was warned to take a bodyguard, but everyone was so polite. Some people were suggesting she advertise, others were politely pointing out that society had moved on. Most people just laughed.”

    The series has attracted a loyal following – as well as some vitriol. A.A. Gill, in the Sunday Times, pronounced its portrayal of Africans as offensive. He suggested that it was only commissioned because Esien was black.

    “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?” she smiles. “If that’s the case, why aren’t there dozens of black comedians with their own shows? And I love the idea that all these poor, helpless Nigerians need protecting from comic stereotyping by big, brave A.A. Gill. If I was only saying that Nigerians are stupid then that would be a problem, but all human life is here. If you can’t make jokes about people from ethnic minorities then God help us.”

  11. Alex — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:18 pm  

    We shouldn’t be concentrating on the fact that they blacked up to portray non-white characters – as Sarah pointed out, they play all the roles themselves so it’s either that or no minority characters.

    What’s offensive about it is the way they’re portrayed, the way the stereotypes are used to create humour. The Japanese schoolgirls were quite funny because they were obsessed with Martin Clunes, and one talked in a ridiculously manly Japanese voice. The joke there was that they didn’t fit the stereotype. That was good. One Japanese stereotype made incongruent with another.

    But with Taaj and Omar and Precious, the amusing surprise twist was… they behaved exactly like the stereotype of sleazy Muslims and Middle-Easterners and happy-clappy sassy black women. It’s not just offensive, it’s lazy and just not actually funny.

  12. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

    Alex,

    It’s not funny IN YOUR OPINION, but for those of us that don’t drive ourselves nuts by dissecting everything to the nth degree it was hilarious.

    What percentage of muslims being sleazy would it take for you to accept that it was okay to portray muslims as sleazy in a sketch show? 99%? Or do they all have to be sleazy?

    Oh heck, you Leftists are correct – we need to ban ALL comedy. Frankie Boyle, we’re coming for you . . . even though your incredibly funny. Did I say that out loud? Oh no, the Stasis are going to be at my door at any moment. Are you on a shift today Alex?

  13. Rumbold — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:29 pm  

    I was talking about the history of ‘blacking up’ and ‘blackface’. I certainly don’t claim to speak for everyone, but plenty of people I have talked to have had strong reactions to things like this- remember the Goodness Gracious Me sketch/song (which I can’t find on you tube)?

    Part of the reason I wrote this piece was to see how people felt about the whole thing. They don’t offend me, but that is because they are not targeted at me. I know people in the past have been very offended by things like the back and white minstrel show, back when those were the only ‘minorities’ you would see on TV.

    I haven’t called for them to be sacked/banned, nor will I, but I think defending such a sketch by saying that they are “representing a multicultural society” is pretty weak. Of course minorities should be beyond parody/humour. Nobody I think is suggesting that.

  14. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:34 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Nevermind, the way things are going with our lack of immigration control, it will be white people soon who will be in the minority.

  15. Trofim — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:53 pm  

    There is an unspoken inference here that being offended is somehow not nice.
    Can anyone explain why people shouldn’t be offended?

    Alex @ 11: nice example of being offended by proxy.

  16. Rumbold — on 28th December, 2010 at 1:55 pm  

    It is perfectly reasonable to take a range of opinions on this matter (as Ravi, Sarah and others have shown). However, it does seem, judging by the reactions of some, that you can’t criticise comedians any more, or else you are a fully paid up member of the pro-censorship Soviet PC brigade. Nobody is above criticism, and I don’t see that criticising a comedian for blacking up or hurling abuse at Down’s Syndrome children makes you in favour of crushing free speech by banning anything you don’t like.

  17. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    Rumbold,

    If you’re not seeking to have it banned, and given that said comedian/comedienne will not miraculously disappear or change their trademark humour for the benefit of a minority of a few professional offence-takers, please tell us . . . what is exactly the point in going on and on and on and on and on and on about it.

    Like the sound of your own voice? Gives you conversational material for your nimby dinner parties?

  18. Sarah AB — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:13 pm  

    Rumbold – I agree and think in fact ‘PC’ is a term which is sometimes used too readily as an insult. I think it’s good that society is no longer so ready condone casual homophobia, racism and sexism – in jokes or elsewhere. I certainly don’t think humour and comedy have suffered for this shift. Sometimes one might think someone who complains about something we enjoy on broadly PC grounds is being oversensitive or intolerant – but sometimes one might be persuaded to change one’s mind on the issue.

  19. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

    Frankie Boyle’s on tonight.

  20. Rumbold — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

    Carol C:

    Nevermind, the way things are going with our lack of immigration control, it will be white people soon who will be in the minority.

    And I for one will welcome our new overlords. Already my children have been banned from eating pork and can only speak Urdu. I have pulled them out of school so they can spend their days learning how to claim maximum benefits from the state.

    What is exactly the point in going on and on and on and on and on and on about it.

    Like the sound of your own voice? Gives you conversational material for your nimby dinner parties?

    One post does not seem excessive.

    As it happens, this will make fine conversation for my latest dinner party. Only people who read the Guardian and voted for a left-wing party are allowed to attend, and all the food is prepared by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. After the main course, the Union Jack is brought out and we all hiss at it for two minutes exactly, before cheering when our butler draws a crescent on it. It looks a bit like this:

    http://melchettmike.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/crescent-jack14.jpg?w=400&h=261

    Would you like to come? We are based in Islington.

  21. Rumbold — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:22 pm  

    Sarah AB:

    Thank you. Yes, people should be free to say what they want, but, especially comedians, should also be prepared for criticism. Take the case of Amit Singh, the EDL’s spokesman. I wouldn’t have arrested him, but nor would I say that anyone criticising his words wanted him banned/censored and that he should be given his own comedy shown.

  22. Hermes — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:27 pm  

    Of FFS!!!! Lighten up Rumbold. Little Britain is one of the funniest shows around…what happened to artistic licence? It’s pathetic when you can’t laugh at gospel singing black women and bearded ‘Islamic’ cockneys. You get me? None of the stuff in Come Fly with Me is racist…it simply takes the piss out of everybody.

    Get a life…you get me?

  23. Richard — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:32 pm  

    Why aren’t Welsh sheep-shagging jokes considered offensive? Surely suggesting that an entire nation engages in bestiality is horribly offensive?

  24. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

    Hermes,

    What do you think of Frankie Boyle?

    I found the joke about Price’s disabled son absolutely hilarious. The fact is that he looks like an utter mongol. Well, he IS one, but I’m sure you know what I mean. Normal people think and say the things that Frankie Boyle thinks and says. All my friends make jokes about retards.

  25. AbuF — on 28th December, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

    As someone who used to have to sip his pint in a pub, in days of yore, whilst one of the team from Little Britain regaled amazingly tolerant Bristol locals with his stream of frequently deeply unfunny “surreal” bullshit, all I can argue is that this pair of absolute twits finally is getting what has been some time coming to them.

  26. Mercy — on 28th December, 2010 at 3:25 pm  

    Carol C, do you actually like comedy or do you just sit around on the internet waiting for someone to post a vaguely negative opinion on one of your favourites so you can have a good moan?

    Oh no, someone has insulted the Dark Lord Frankie, quick hop on the postmobile and whinge whinge whinge, why are people so joyless? Can’t they be more like m- wait, what’s that, someone on the internet doesn’t like Jimmy Carr? Start up the sirens, I gotta reply to every single comment with tedious blathering about humourless liberals and the JOKE POLICE.

  27. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 3:29 pm  

    Mercy,

    At least you recognise how other people view you.

  28. Sarah AB — on 28th December, 2010 at 3:34 pm  

    I’m beginning to suspect Carol *is* Frankie Boyle (whom I’ve never seen).

  29. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 3:44 pm  

    That’s right Sarah AB. There is only one scary, evil, “far-right”, sick-of-lefties person with a sense of humour, and it’s me, Frankie Boyle.

  30. Ravi Naik — on 28th December, 2010 at 3:49 pm  

    Oh no, someone has insulted the Dark Lord Frankie, quick hop on the postmobile and whinge whinge whinge, why are people so joyless?

    Good comedians, and that includes Boyle, are often self-deprecating. One can only imagine that Carol C’s friends have a similar style of humour.

    All my friends make jokes about retards.

  31. AbuF — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:26 pm  

    All my friends make jokes about retards

    I think it is quite wonderful, therefore, that Carol C tolerates being the butt of so much humour; and with such good grace.

  32. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:28 pm  

    AbuF,

    So you think jokes about retards should be banned?

  33. Cynical/Realist? — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:38 pm  

    Carol C – you do know Frankie Boyle is clearly a lefty don’t you? He rubs right-wing sorts right up. Pathetic simpletons like you seem to think that just because he enjoys pissing people off makes him right-wing. Listen to his views. Try to ignore the laughing at mongoloid jokes and listen to the views behind the jokes.

    Then go sit back under the bridge like the right-wing troll you are.

    I disagree entirly with the point the post made about blacking up in Little Britain/Come Fly With Me. But good Lord it is like catnip for freaky little fucks like you isn’t it. Go back to boiling yourself in your own fetid juices.

  34. Carol C's Fanclub — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:40 pm  

    @ Carol C – Abu was a bit subtle for you there wasn’t he my duck? Mistacks like you are what condoms were invented for.

  35. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:44 pm  

    Cynical/UNrealist,

    I know exactly what Frankie Boyle’s politics are, having watched Mock the Week, so I find it particularly refreshing that someone who has some of the same socialist views as people like yourself can also show they have a real sense of humour.

    Maybe it shows that us “right wing trolls” are more open-minded than you would like to believe, that we will defend Frankie Boyle and Lucas/Walliams despite how stupid they are politically.

  36. damon — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:46 pm  

    For some reason I’ve got Escape to the Country on the TV at the moment. With Denise Nurse doing property TV nonsense in the Cotswolds.
    http://news.sky.com/sky-news/content/StaticFile/jpg/2007/Jan/Week4/1492418.jpg

    I haven’t ever read a word against her, but having seen the programme from time to time, where she’s always showing white couples around country villages wanting to move to their dream house, I do wonder what’s more of an irritant to some people.
    Her or the Matt Lucas programme.

  37. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 4:46 pm  

    My fanclub,

    If you’re going to try and fail to be witty, at least save some face and spell mistake correctly.

  38. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 5:04 pm  

    damon @ 36:

    For some reason I’ve got Escape to the Country on the TV at the moment. With Denise Nurse doing property TV nonsense in the Cotswolds.

    Well, there’s got to be a reason damon ;-) You were probably holding your wheaty meter up to the screen to see if she passed or failed. Y’know, that’d be a better excuse than just watching property porn for it’s own sake!

  39. Claire — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:19 pm  

    Carol C- you have to be a troll.

    If we’re talking lazy stereotyping, you’re a better example than anything Lucas and Walliams have come up with. You have started sounding slightly like a 12 year old boy though, particularly in the Frankie Boyle comment, but other than that, kudos!

  40. Carol C — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:45 pm  

    Claire,

    Of course I’m a troll. Everyone who disagrees with a Leftist is a troll. Didn’t you know that?

  41. Claire — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:07 pm  

    Not everyone, Carol (whatever a leftist is, but we will leave that question for now). But you are.
    In the spirit of not feeding same, I will leave you to it now.

  42. Don — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:10 pm  

    All my friends make jokes about retards.

    Really? I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s usual. Unless you’re an American. I get the impression that it’s more common over there.

    Oh, LB is horrible, IMO, but that wasn’t racist or particularly offensive. Make any joke you want, obviously. That’s one of the ways of letting people know how you think. I assume, Carol, that you and your friends limit your humour to retards.

    Was Rubold at any point suggesting banning? I think not.

  43. Don — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:11 pm  

    Correction.

    I meant don’t limit

  44. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:47 pm  

    Carol C,

    Let’s try wind up artist. Would you accept that sobriquet?

    ‘Cause that’s what you have been doin’ all day long….

  45. KJB — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:25 pm  

    Funny how humour – all too often the last defence and refuge of the reactionary (Nick Griffin’s used the ‘it’s a joke’ line, hasn’t he?) – seems to be sacred for people. A bunch of white people, and Ravi Naik, are busy making excuses for two white men.

    If Walliams and Lucas want to represent a ‘multicultural society,’ then why don’t they? This kind of bull is always used as an excuse by TV people to avoid actually making the effort to hire black and Asian talent. Funny how the comedians behind Goodness Gracious Me managed to take the piss out of racism without ‘whiting up’ – why is it so hard for white comedians to do? Interestingly enough, I see that Little Britain has had ONE black guest star, no Asians… no disabled actors as far as I know…

    As for PC – the term is completely fucking meaningless. Can someone please tell this humourless fem/womanist what is so ‘subversive’ about blackface – whether in Britain or Australia or wherever – whilst a bunch of fucknuts in America try to airbrush out black chattel slavery from American history?

    Oh, and little note, trolls: aggressively telling Rumbold and others to ‘lighten up’ might be hilariously ironic, but it makes you look like the fuckwits you are.

  46. Papa Foxtrot Tango — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:34 pm  

    One wonders whether Rumbold and the like get quite so het up at the prospect of black actors ‘whitening up’, in the sense of donning period clothing and crowns etc, in taking up roles such as Henry VI, played by David Oyelowo in a ‘ground-breaking’ performance at the RSC.

    When purists complained about the incongruity of a Nigerian playing an English king, they were ordered to ‘get with the programme’, to ‘lighten up’ and take on board that the fact that ‘all theatre is make-believe, so what does it matter?’

    One rule for Shakespeare it seems, and another for Little Britain.

  47. Hermes — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:35 pm  

    KJB, I am not a troll, don’t even know what that means, but I told Rumbold to lighten up. Perhaps I should send her a special skin cream too, you shitwipe.

  48. KJB — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:04 pm  

    ‘her’?

    Hahahaha.

  49. earwicga — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:23 pm  

    Roger/Carol C/Karen/Tim is a troll. Please try not to feed it.

  50. earwicga — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

    As for the show, I’ve always found Walliams/Lucas stuff to be shite and also their ‘fans’. There was a pretty good piece on CIF about this earlier today Come Fly With Me is tasteless comedy

  51. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:48 pm  

    Rumbold (of the Bailey, or not) is a man. A slightly lighter than wheatish man, it has to be said, and the author of this thread.

    _________________________

    I watched the episode under discussion and I thought it was a curate’s egg, funny in parts.

    I didn’t think the West Indian gag worked, I thought the guy pimping up his trolley as a chick mobile was worth a minor laugh and the rest of it forgettable.

    Should it be on TV?

    I think the ratings will tell. And I suspect they will reflect my genuine yawn at this derivative stuff. Who can remember the drama of the real Airport documentaries? I can’t.
    ________________________________

    Well, we ain’t seen the Black and White Minstrels for a heck of a long time and that is because it became, what:

    Unacceptable? Boring? Racist?

    I dunno.

    I remember seeing it in my childhood and I just assumed they really were negro’s. How stupid was I? Well, I was only six or seven and the Windrush was yet to sail.

    It is all very well living in the twenty first century with your jet packs and internet, but it completely unreasonable to apply that criteria to what was, frankly, ignorance….

    Though I’d like to assume that anyone that had met a black US soldier might have had a better grip on the situation that I had. Too young, for once.

  52. KJB — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:40 pm  

    One wonders whether Rumbold and the like get quite so het up at the prospect of black actors ‘whitening up’, in the sense of donning period clothing and crowns etc, in taking up roles such as Henry VI, played by David Oyelowo in a ‘ground-breaking’ performance at the RSC.

    Funny, I had no idea that period costume counted as ‘whitening up.’ Did black nations not have kings with crowns? Perhaps if David had actually powdered his face white, your idiotic attempt at a parallel might stand up.

    Your concept of there being no powerful ‘black’ people in Shakespeare’s time is also historically illiterate BS. As Stephen Greenblatt points out in his introduction to Othello in The Norton Shakespeare, the Ottoman Empire was a massive world power in Shakespeare’s time and ‘Moors’, as North Africans were often called then, were viewed with a mixture of fear and respect. Indeed, this famous image of ‘a Moor’ by Cesare Vecellio (dated 1590) is cited as one possible inspiration for Shakespeare’s vision of Othello.

  53. Ravi Naik — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:14 pm  

    Interestingly enough, I see that Little Britain has had ONE black guest star, no Asians… no disabled actors as far as I know…

    Actually, your opinion seems to be based on a single youtube video I posted here. They do have regular asian and black extras, even though as pointed out, this is a two men show. There is also one Asian that appears regularly in one of their sketches (Fat Fighters).

    I haven’t seen “Come Fly with Me”. The problem I have with their style of comedy is that it quickly turns repetitive and predictable, but Little Britain explicitly pokes fun against racists, xenophobes and homophobes. There was a similar argument against Apu’s portrayal in the Simpsons… not sure whether it is an issue any longer.

  54. KJB — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:44 pm  

    Actually, your opinion seems to be based on a single youtube video I posted here.

    No – I looked up their guest stars on Wikipedia. It’d be pathetic if they didn’t even have non-white extras. Given that people were going on about how it’s all in good fun because they make fun of everyone, I decided to see just how much they’d got non-white people in on this fun.

    White comedians can ‘do’ race as much as they want to (it seems to be a requisite for those who like to think they’re edgy), but I haven’t seen any do it very amusingly, apart from Larry David (who is perhaps an exception because he’s Jewish?) in Curb Your Enthusiasm and he did that by making himself the butt of the joke. If you don’t know what discrimination feels like (and a LOT of comedians are white middle-class men), then I don’t see how you’re in a position to make it funny.

    The treatment of race in 30 Rock is also often brilliant (FUCK YEAH TRACEY JORDAN!). Goodness Gracious Me, as mentioned earlier – perennially underrated. It looks like we British generally suck at ‘doing’ race – thank god for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Simpsons when I was growing up.

    Earwicga – Yeah, Balaji Ravichandran is a smart cookie from what I’ve read of his.

  55. Ravi Naik — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:04 am  

    The treatment of race in 30 Rock is also often brilliant (FUCK YEAH TRACEY JORDAN!).

    Yes, but this random guy thinks the show is racist. He probably didn’t see the show like you did, and got all his information from wikipedia. :-)

  56. KJB — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:37 am  

    Mmmm, yeah, because there is such similarity between a sketch show and a sitcom…

    I don’t think the Little Britainers are racist, but that as Balaji Ravichandran says, that their show does depict racial stereotypes (not only racial ones either). You yourself called it ‘repetitive’ above, and from what I’ve seen of LB, I can’t spot what’s radical or subversive. Does their black woman suddenly turn out to be an atheist? Is the Muslim dude a quiet, polite and well-adjusted member of society?

    That’s my main complaint (as expressed above) – comedy and TV generally needs to open itself up to new ideas and stop doing the same old shit over and over again.

    I myself wondered what on earth was going on with 30 Rock at first, but their critique of race, being quite nuanced, develops over several seasons. It’s not perfect, but it looks like poor old Zeeshan fell right into the trap that the writers set early on. As I asked above, has LB developed thus?

  57. damon — on 29th December, 2010 at 3:20 am  

    Well, there’s got to be a reason damon You were probably holding your wheaty meter up to the screen to see if she passed or failed.

    I only mentioned that programme Douglas, because it is something that I’m sure is noticed elsewhere and particularly by black people. I’ve even heard criticism of black characters on Eastenders for not being like real black Londoners. I’m sure there’s a black forum somewhere where that woman’s appearance on such afternoon property dross has been commented on.

    The same with Ainsley Harriott and Rustie Lee I bet.

  58. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:35 pm  

    damon @ 57,

    It was my pathetic attempt at a joke!

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