Thursday, 28 June 2007

Big Brother - Underlying Racism and the stereotypical notions of Blackness

Well, here it is. Big Brother is back - with a bang and a quiet burning sizzle to tantilise the great british public into a sultry summer.
Albeit I am just a casual observer of the programme - curiosity brought me to Channel 4, after the global outcry of 'racism' in the 'celebrity' BB house occurred - however, I'm still fascinated that underlying racism is bubbling just below the surface, waiting to erupt like Etna. But how will we, the average, African British observer react? Will it be with passiveness or a slow shrug of the shoulders, burdened down by decades of complacency? Will we unite - regardless of our ideological backgrounds - and use our voice as one, as the Asian community did over Shilpa -gate ? Or will we slowly burn and remain mute just like we have recently have done on the proposed Mental Health Bill?
I still ask myself, how folk can allow themselves to be displayed to an anonymous, critical general public, broadcasting all of your flaws, imperfections and some of the contestants may espouse perfections(!) to an audience that is ready to sacrifice you at the nearest stake - oooops, they call it eviction:)
Briefly touching on the Shilpa Shetty incident. When I did get to see how she was portrayed on the programme, she came across as an articulate, confident, proud Asian woman. Completely comfortable with her culture and aspects of her identity. Albeit rumours surfaced that she bleaches. I can't attest to this, as I haven't followed her career. Also, the way that the camera, at times, focussed on her looks. Compare this to the three white trollops - sorry, I couldn't find a better way to describe these bullies. Anyway, she stood up to the bullying and the perceived racism and voila, the rest is history.
Now, we have 4 so called minorities captured in the house. We have Nicky, who clearly does not find any cultural awareness in her self. In fact, I read online that she was adopted by a caucasian family. Billi? Again, a pretty vacant Asian man, whose premise on entering the house were his 'model looks' and trying to date a page three girl. Nuff said about that one! However, what truly concerns me are the two African (try telling them that! lol) house mates and their complete underlying racial stereotypes. Check it out:
In one corner, we have a young African man, a man, who seems strangely comfortable with permed, gelled hair and blue contact lens - maybe trying to emulate his Essex boy friends - who calls himself Brian. Brian? Wow! Never heard a African man called Brian. The name evokes knotted handkerchiefs, chip butties, rainy, miserable summers, going to Blackpool pier for your summer vacation and all that is void about british culture! This man portrays himself as a shuffling, bumbling idiot. A young man who had no sense of who Shakespeare was - not that should matter, but it was the way his vapid and cringe worthy expressions on his face were shown when he asked if Romeo was the one from So Solid! *SMH* All in all, Brian is seen as non-threatening, inarticulate, humorous joker. Kind of in the mode of Frank Bruno - you know what I mean Harry? Yep, he's the kind of African man who is not *seen* as a bogeyman, but wait until you take one of his precious white daughters out. Then he magically transforms into a dark brute, like the mythological Hollywood version of King Kong or the protagonist, in Richard Wright's 'Native Son' Can you see where I'm coming from?
Then, on the opposite side of the corner comes Charley. Now, it's rumoured that she is biracial. Nonetheless, she has still been unconsciously placed within the nation's psyche as the 'angry, bitter black woman with a massive chip on her shoulder'. This has been documented by the rantings of many posters online, who object to her rudeness and inarticulateness.
When I observe both of these characters in the house, I see a lack of identity, Blackness and self. I guess, both of them go together, hand in hand. If no sense of self, then surely, there is no sense of your identity. The confusion on both parts are their lack of identity. Not only with their culture but with their self. Come on, do you really think that the BB producers would place an articulate brotha or sista in that house? Of course not, it would spoil the stereotypical notions that all Caucasians have of us.
Both Charley and Brian are playing the village fools/jesters. The court is the audience in the house and the audience at home.
As for Brian being fostered/adopted by whitey. Cop out. I was, as were members of my family as small children. Thankfully, we all had extended family intervention which managed to liberate me and the rest of my family from perpetrating self hatred and a lack of identity whilst going through the difficult stages of our lives.

In conclusion, I am not surprised about the betrayal of these two characters at all. It shows that the caucasian mind is still trying to upkeep and maintain these two stereotypical caricatures of African people. Charley - the so called 'bitter black woman with a huge chip on her shoulder', together with the stepin fetchit, mumbling, inarticulate nuances of Brian. Not surprising at all at the obvious status quo.
Let's admit it, who is BB made for? The lowest denominator - chavs. Who is BB made by? The so called highest denominator - white, male and upper/middle class.

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