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Stop Getting Hung Up On Diversity

Fri, Apr 2, 2010

TV & Media Industry

basket of coloured eggs

[Image by WoodleyWonderWorks]

Good grief! It’s Good Friday already! Easter Greetings from Not From Concentrate HQ where public holidays don’t mean that much anymore. Still, that’s a cross we have to bear. See what I did there?

Amongst the other jobs to get done today, I wanted to write a protracted blog post that covers the tricky subject of diversity in TV, which has been increasingly bugging me over the past few weeks, following on from numerous conversations and discussions – some official, industry-led events, but mainly face-to-face in the cosy confines of the pub with a few pints to lubricate the debate.

TICK-BOX COMMISSIONING

I was going to give a thought-provoking overview of the pros and cons of pigeon-holing diverse groups of people into programming, give a frank and heart-felt opinion about tick-box commissioning and try and deliver a balanced analysis of what diverse content currently resides in our TV schedules.

I was going to do that, all of it, but actually I’ve got better things to do with my time – like write cryptic clues for the imminent Easter egg hunt. And besides, all of the above is perfectly well documented all over t’internet by every industry spokesperson, every community champion and every minority group representative. [Incidentally, is it just me or is the word ‘minority’ somewhat patronising and demeaning these days? Probably.]

So, I’m just going to give a few, highly simplistic lines about our own take on diversity:

DUMP THE D-WORD

We try and ignore the whole term and think it really should be made redundant. Instead, we simply substitute ‘diverse’ for ‘quality’. Diverse talent? No, quality talent. Diverse commissioning? Quality commissioning has more of a ring to it, don’t you think? Diverse casting? Er, how about quality casting?

‘Diversity’ creates a dangerous, segregating precedent that puts commissioners and producers on the back foot for fear of falling foul of the Quota Watchdogs. Forget all that. Please.

Make quality the governing factor and this could and should be the future of TV production:

“See this bloke – he’s an incredible actor.” “He’s gay.” “So what? HE’S AN INCREDIBLE ACTOR!”

“Check out this script by this unknown writer.” “Love it, bring her in.” “She’s in a wheelchair.” “And? We’ve got ramps, BRING HER IN!”

“This new quiz show format totally rocks!” “I agree.” “Oh, the guy’s from Scunthorpe.” “And that matters because? Get me a fucking train ticket.”

“Wow, what an amazingly shot short film – so fresh, so contemporary, so what we’re looking for. By an Asian director would you believe.” “I don’t care if he’s Martian – we need to see more of him. Get on it.”

MORE QUALITY, MORE WOMEN PLEASE

In these first few months that we’ve been up and running, the quality of the ideas that we’ve seen come through has been outstanding, first and foremost. But if there needs to be a secondary benchmark, then the ideas have come from the old, young, ethnically and regionally diverse, hearing-impaired, straight, gay, male and female.

Actually, I lie – we’ve not had any ideas come through the Not From Concentrate process from any females so far. Strange, but true.

And the one thing that unites all these lovely people? One word, three syllables. I think you know what we’re talking about.

Which seems like the perfect moment to move on to more things cryptic – and cocoa.

Happy holidays.

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3 Responses to “Stop Getting Hung Up On Diversity”

  1. sadieei says:

    Thanks for the post and so glad you didnt go for the same old same old arguments on this one. and it is a great idea, but always from the white towers.

    The D word is needed is required otherwise things just do not change, the openness you express always comes with a caveat and a set of rules that encourage dilution.

    I want people to know that I am something different, that I see the world from the back window of a white van, from the kitchens of your towers, as well as being quality, witty, charming and a success but I do it my way!

    When people start to see it like this D will not be a dirty word or something to shy away from and panic over the ticking of boxes. It will be the university fees for your children, the holidays in florida and the most expensive champagne you want all night and all day, and it will come from people like me, those of us who do it differently with pride.

    We all want to be taken for the ideas that we put forward and nothing else, but we live in the real world and its ‘your’ problem not mine

    Hope you enjoyed the eggs!!

  2. Erinma says:

    With diversity comes innovation – thinking from other perspectives…

  3. panama says:

    Kudos from one brainiac to another. :)

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