DIVERSITY AND THE PRICE ATTACHED TO IT
I’ve just read an online article from the BBC announcing that they are going to inject £100m (in Australian dollars that’s $180,920,500.00) of its TV budget over a three-year period to produce “diverse and inclusive content”.
You’re probably wondering then why this is an issue and is an opinion piece?
Well firstly let me state that it’s not to do with the word diversity.
Secondly, it’s not the scheme itself that I have an issue with.
It’s the fact that they’ve attached a price to diversity.
Now why is that an issue I hear you asking?
Surely, you an Autistic gay man can see the value in better representation of gay Autistic people on screen.
Why, you even wrote a passionate blog about it last week. https://autisticnick.com/2020/07/06/a-new-tv-show-about-autism-is-coming-but-just-how-involved-in-the-process-are-we/
Yes, I did. I don’t have an issue with the overall scheme.
Ok, look that’s a lie. I have an issue with it being named a diversity scheme, but really how else were they going to sell it to the public?
By adding the word ‘diversity’ it sends out a message that they the BBC are committed to bringing a wide range of original story tellers to the screen.
But for me what cheapens this is that they attached a price to it.
Which signals to me that the only way for them to be diverse in the world of TV is to have a price of £100m as the main feature.
Why, if you looked at any of the news stories reporting on this, they all lead with the headline “BBC commits £100m to increasing diversity on TV”.
Which takes the attention and focus away from the scheme as anyone reading it will only see the amount of money being attached to it and won’t see the bigger picture.
But why does there have to be a price of £100m for a TV network to be diverse and have a collaborative, diverse tv output?
Why aren’t they doing this in the first instance?
Why is it that it takes a scheme like this for writers, producers, directors & other creative talent coming from a diversity background before anyone will even consider taking notice of voices like mine?
The other insulting part of the criteria process (if it wasn’t insulting enough in the first place) is that according to the BBC article that I read those within the commissioning departments of the BBC in comedy or drama, etc will have to view the work pitched to them from those coming from say an Autistic background and they will have to measure the pitch to see if it passes two out of three tests!
A quote from the article states
There will also be three “tests” for diversity in the BBC’s TV output, with programmes needing to meet two of them to qualify – diverse stories and portrayal on-screen, diverse production teams and talent and diverse-led production companies.
Tests for diversity? Are you f*****g kidding me?
How dare they measure my diversity.
Non-disabled people, or non-gay people aren’t going to be measured here are they? Because it’s an insult.
Yes, it’s a FUCKING INSULT.
June Sarpong is the BBC’s director of diversity and after this schemes announcement she made the following statement.
“I am pledging to ensure 50% of on-air roles will go to women by 2020, with targets of 15% for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups [BAME], 8% for disabled people and 8% for LGBT staff”.
The last section of her quote really stuck in my throat.
I am only worth 8% fucking percent in relation to this scheme?
I find it demoralising and by attaching a percent to my disability it makes me feel that my self-worth isn’t highly regarded.
I am not a number and as such I shouldn’t be defined by one.
My voice and my disability have a value and it’s certainly worth more than a mere 8%.
What is there current disability percent rate when it comes to commissioning programs?
And why is 8% the highest that they are looking to get to?
I’m not shocked here, I know I should be but here in Australia it’s not a lot better with 96% of non-disabled characters being played by non-disabled actors, with 18% of the Australian population is Autistic.
I’m just left wondering why someone like me a gay Autistic man has to jump through hoops and have my work measured against a three-part test before it’s even considered worthy to be broadcast?
I believe that there is value to me telling my story, having my voice heard on screen, seeing better representation of people with Autism, being a leading character and not relegated to being a token person with a disability just for the sake of the network filling a disability quota.
I’m sick and tired of being underrepresented in both TV and film roles and that those roles are going to non-disabled actors.
Whilst this is welcomed, I feel that they should have led with the headline BBC announce new diversity scheme and not BBC injects £100m into being more diverse.
What I want to see is changes and not excuses.
Carry On The Conversation
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.