As some of you who read my blog may be aware, I was in the dim and distant past an actor and my how things have changed.
I am obviously old enough to remember when television actors were almost totally white people, until gradually more and more ethnic minorities started to appear.
Drama included black people, although somewhat predictably the West Indians in the scene were the ones robbing from the corner shop which was run by an Indian family and when the police arrived they were white men. A medical drama would have a smattering of Indian doctors, all male while the Matron would be a white Irish woman whose nurses would include West Indians, and Asians.
If it were a situation comedy, one could have two couples living next door to each other, one white couple and one black. Humour, such as it was seemed to stem from the insults traded by the men folk of each couple and from recollection the white fellow generally making a fool of himself.
Comedy was awash with any number of programmes in which foreigners of any denomination were portrayed as not very bright if not down right stupid.
My how things have changed, for it seems that either the writers or the casting directors have noticed the existence of the female of the species. We are now inundated with dramas where the lead characters are female, especially it seems police dramas, or those containing people of standing or power in the community, where all the senior police officers or politicians are now female.
We have gone from one extreme to the other, it must be quite hard for a white male actor to get cast in anything especially in the advertisements. I assume the advertisers feel they must try to appeal to all members of the community who might purchase their products.
It started slowly with a few adverts containing mixed race couples and then came to include their mixed race children, which to someone like myself who is in a mixed race relationship seemed to make sense. Unfortunately and I’m sure it was with the best intentions, it seems to have gone a little too far and is becoming slightly comical.
We now have deaf people, those in wheelchairs, vertically challenged people and couples where the man is mixed race and his wife is white and their children are obviously mixed race too. Oddly and somewhat ironically the only one I can think of that has blind people is for the Royal National Institute for the blind.
Obviously one would want television to reflect modern life but you can almost hear the casting people desperately trying to be politically correct when viewing the advertisements.
“Have we got the same number of blacks to white, do the browns count as white or black?”
“Can we put someone in here in a wheelchair, even better if we can get a deaf one in a wheelchair.”
“I’ve checked the boxes and we have room for another vertically challenged person, but I can’t work out what colour we need?”
Forgive this slightly tongue in cheek look at television casting, from the old days when black people were taken by surprise when the token black person appeared on television to today where it has almost become a game in our house, to get out our mental checklist and tick off all the different permutations of characters that the casting people manage to squeeze in.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the other category of people that have taken over television, men with large bushy beards.
Next time you are watching television, play along and see how many varieties you can spot, plus size models, bald men, red heads, Sikhs, gay people, the list goes on and on.
Obviously we need diversity, but don’t try to squeeze them all into a domestic kitchen party scene, that’s where it starts to look silly and a little contrived.
My hubby and I have played this game for years….trying to notice the oddities in categories and length of time the more obscure types stay on screen. We also give extra points for multiple categories covered with only one actor/actress: ie. gay, bald, black guy in a wheelchair – 4 points.
It’s a good game except where they try to cram everyone into the same scene but that’s modern life for you!
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