My Random Thoughts

Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Please Shoot the Messenger...

I watched the Drama 'Shoot the Messenger' on BBC2 yesterday. I missed the pre showing hype and had only been told a few hours previously to watch the show by a friend. The programme is an attempt to illustrate the ills of the black community by using the point of view of a self hating bigot who also suffered from mental illness. The drama was initially titled "Fuck Black People" but this title was changed by the BBC before the Show was aired. Since the protagonist himself is black it attempts in this way to deflect calls of implied racism due to his own self hatred. The writer Sharon Foster (a black woman) was also the writer of the screenplay for "Baby father" (nuff said!).

For me "Shoot the Messenger" feeds fuel to all the negative stereotypes of black people as Joe Pascal, the protagonist holds the black community responsible for the transgressions of all the grotesquely caricatured characters in the play. It features David Oyelowo (formerly of Spooks, one of our own no less) who plays a black teacher who is falsely accused of assault by a student and subsequently practically turns into a card carrying member of the British National Party. His hatred of black people then leads him to watch a black shooting victim die when he could have called an ambulance to save him. He goes on to utter such reprehensible and memorable statements like "bring back slavery we were good at that and at least they took us somewhere sunny".

I really objected to the portrayal of a collection of extremely negative stereotypes of black people and attitudes including the baby mother with four children from four fathers who then leaves all the children for her mum to take care of and Heather who hates her kinky hair cause it 'doesn't make her feel good about herself'. Since the writer seeks to stoke controversy the characters discuss the issues such as a biblical curse placed upon Canaan (being interpreted as the curse of the black race) and the 'blame culture' in the black community where all black failure is ascribed to the 'white man' or slavery.

A friend who is a published writer is constantly complaining about the state of the publishing industry in the UK and what 'ethnic' writers are forced to write in order to get publishing deals. 'Shoot the Messenger' is proof of this, but I think if this is the kind of self hatred we need to write then they can stuff their publishing contracts and awards (Shoot the messenger won the Dennis Potter ScreenWriters Award). Personally I would have expected a more balanced exploration of the issue by the BBC without producing a recruitment video for the BNP. If this is the kind of entertainment to expect from terrestrial UK TV, I might as well just cancel my TV licence again!