Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My blog on 5th September remarked that Daniel is depicted as selfish and a bit of a snake in the grass. A few recent comments on CBBC's website suggest the hatred and negativity that can be engendered by such a portrayal -

Screencapture of comments on CBBC webpage

Monday, September 21, 2015

Newsround Blog is hoping to soon find out more about diversity on BBC children's TV. We understand that 26% of portrayal on CBBC & CBeebies are of diverse characters, but that doesn't help with questions like how many are, for example, black or gay.

Diversity was central to one of CBBC Newsround's reports this morning. A leading African-American ballet dancer, Misty Copeland, says she's worried there aren't more black dancers around the world. Ayshah visited the Royal Ballet in London to talk to Eric Underwood, one of their few black dancers. The programme's researchers contacted some of Britain's top ballet schools. It seems that only about 18 out of 332 dancers are black.

Another excellent Newsround diversity-related report was based on the efforts of a 14-year-old boy called Frankie, who has a disability -

Frankie: I think if we involve disabled people with books, we can raise awareness and it will become the norm to people, and they won't stare, they won't make comments and life would get better - society would get better.

Martin Dougan: What would you want to see in future, in terms of what you've done and what you want to achieve?

Frankie: That the world's a better place, and there's equal rights between people ... yeah.

Martin: Frankie is extremely passionate about this. He really wants to make changes.

Frankie and Martin Dougan visited book publishing company, Bloomsbury, to talk their head of children’s and educational publishing, Emma Hopkin. Ms Hopkin said the publishing industry is working very hard to ensure that everybody is represented in some way in some books.

The Guardian - Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Racism and homophobia on The Next Step

Don't expect to hear racist or homophobic language on The Next Step - the discrimination and prejudice is more subtle than that.

CBBC Newsround recently reported on the diversity controversy surrounding Taylor Swift's Wildest Dreams video. That video is supposed to depict a story taking place in 1950; But The Next Step is set in current times, and one of the show's principal characters, West, is black.

So how is the show racist?

Well, although there are black and ethnic minorities in The Next Step, if we look at the storylines, we nevertheless perceive thinly-veiled racism. For example, the fleeting 'relationship' between Emily and West which began at the end of series 2 and finished at the start of series 3. We didn't even see anything amounting to a romantic kiss between the two of them. But they do stay friends, "and that's it" as Emily makes clear. Now contrast her sister Riley's relationship with boyfriend James.

Another example, on yesterday's 4.55pm episode, was the way Giselle laid into Shantel for not dancing in the duet -

Giselle and Shantel

Giselle: This might be how you guys do things at Elite - this is not what we do at The Next Step. We actually work as a team!

This brings us neatly to the homophobia. Because, in the preceding, episode Chloe made a similar comment about Daniel: "... he's not a team player, so I really really want Giselle to beat him."

But where is the homophobia? After all, we don't know that Daniel, or indeed anyone else on the show, is actually gay. However it is precisely because there aren't any openly gay characters that we suspect discrimination - just like the fans who've criticised Taylor Swift's video. How many dance studios only have straight dancers? Answer: none.

Daniel has already been depicted as selfish and a bit of a snake in the grass. But he's also a boy who likes ballet and who doesn't have a girlfriend. So viewers, even the younger ones, might start to think he's gay. And, to top it all, we hear he's not a team player.

The Next Step is made for the Family Channel in Canada. The channel will have much to do in terms of inclusion if it's to avoid further accusations of prejudice and bigotry. This is 2015, not 1950.

Friday, September 04, 2015

From CBBC Newsround's TV bulletin at 7.40am this morning -

Leah: Taylor Swift is known for her hit songs and top videos, but her latest offering is facing some huge criticism from fans. It's all because the video for her new single, Wildest Dreams, is set in Africa, but people have complained that there are hardly any black African people in it. Taylor has not responded yet, but the director of the video has defended it saying it's supposed to reflect a certain point in history, and people of all different races were involved in putting it together. You can find out more about that story on the Newsround website ..

Also see this report in USA Today

Another interesting item on this morning's Newsround programme was Martin's report about Wheelchair Rugby.

Newsround Blog is still waiting for the details of diversity portrayal on BBC children's TV.