They've become the new site of the culture war—and the divisive reactions reveal much about post-Brexit Britainby Ellie Abraham / September 30, 2020 / Leave a comment
The recent passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, whose performance as the superhero Black Panther inspired generations of Black people around the world, sparked an outpouring of heartfelt tributes. From grown adults seeing their culture accurately portrayed in mainstream media for the first time, to the many Black children who were finally given a superhero they can see themselves in, Boseman “activated our pride”, wrote Black Panther co-star, the actor Lupita Nyong’o, highlighting the importance of on-screen representation.
This is particularly true for marginalised groups, who are typically unrepresented in the public sphere. But when a recent Argos television advert featuring all Black actors, among them a gay couple, is met with outrage and threats of complaints to Ofcom, we must examine why the much-needed inclusivity on our screens is triggering such a reaction, and what corporations stand to gain.
As a mixed-race person, I grew up with a notable lack of representation in the media of families who looked like mine—so much so that I still take note when I see inclusivity done right. There’s a joy in knowing that, perhaps, by seeing themselves on-screen, the next generation of children won’t have to struggle with their identity as much. However, I also feel a certain amount of dread in anticipation of the backlash that’s to follow. In predictable fashion, particularly around Christmas (as new advertisements appear) the argument that these advertisement are the result of the “PC brigade” shoving diversity down people’s throats still seems to hold considerable weight.
The myth of the “PC brigade”
On Father’s Day, the Conservative Party ran a social media post that depicted a Black man alongside his son. Quickly after, replies to the post were littered with racist stereotypes about Black fatherhood and accusations that white people are being intentionally excluded from campaigns. “Are us WHITE dads included in your message?” replied a Twitter user.
Unfortunately, it is far from an isolated incident and there’s often an equally angry reaction to the portrayal of the LGBT community and non-Christian faiths. In 2017, there were calls to boycott Tesco after the supermarket chain featured a British Muslim family in their Christmas advert, while…