Why diversity ruins the media

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Why diversity ruins the media

Bruce Newsome believes the British media’s quest for diversity is producing content that is boring, repetitive, predictable, hypocritically prejudicial, and (ironically) unpopular.

In the last few years, Britain has become an Orwellian nightmare, in which the media tell you what you can say, what is acceptable, what is important, what to feel. The media under-represent the majority, and over-represent minorities. They put agendas before facts. They dumb-down in order to be “inclusive.” They hide news that doesn’t conform with fashionable myths, and exaggerate news that does. Last week they swarmed with outrage about a tasteless bonfire party, encouraging arrests for hate crimes – all of white men.

The new priority for the media is “diversity” without merits, where the media must look diverse of ethnicity and gender, at the expense of diversity of talents and opinions. The media over-represent supposedly under-represented groups, until majorities become under-represented, and content becomes all about social justice – boring, repetitive, predictable, and prejudicial.

The clearest evidence for this hypocrisy is that minorities are over-represented in television, less so in radio news, but under-represented on the BBC Board. The media’s “diversity” is about visual appearances, not merit.

An alien watcher of British television would think that whites and males are minorities, England is the least populated nation, and everybody cares about social justice.

Programmes whose subjects are too male, pale, or vale – anything sports, scientific, mechanical, or rural – such as BBC’s Country File, Spring Watch, and Strictly Come Dancing – are quickly insinuated with presenters who know nothing of the subjects but are visually “diverse.”

Political programmes once featured only politicians, then over-represented journalists of fashionable bias, and now add utter nobodies – except that they have a Twitter account with an explicit social justice agenda in favour of some minority or another. BBC Television’s “Question Time” is now in the habit of including comedians.

Comedy is boringly about making fun of whites, men, older generations, the past, and conservatives. The BBC has ruined its longest-running science-fiction drama “Doctor Who” with tiresome feminist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, differently-abled stories.

Historical dramas pretend that Britain was just as diverse then as it is now, that everybody in the past realized how sexist and racist it was, that the only life-stories were struggles against sexism and racism.

Historical documentaries no longer stick to the facts or the narratives of the time. Instead, they must discover how socially unjust the past was, or over-represent today’s fashionable minorities, or draw links between past injustices and present progressiveness. Reports on the centenary of the end of the First World War this month have biased female, regional, and non-European participants. BBC Scotland’s “100 Days to Victory” voiced all the British characters as Scottish. In co-production with Australian and Canadian television, the only soldiers of valour that were featured were aboriginal or indigenous.

In reality television, the supposedly under-represented are set-up to win, such as Channel 4’s “Great British Bake Off”, just won by an immigrant from India, who failed some of his tasks outright, but was indulged with a narrative of shyness, insecurity, difference, and other “otherness.”

The BBC ruined its most successful television programme ever (Top Gear) because it wanted to mess with the three white male presenters and their explicit narrative of non-conformist monkey business. They took their winning formula to Amazon Prime, then the BBC replaced them with an American actor (Matt LeBlanc) and a long-loyal BBC insider who was already over-committed (Chris Evans). The BBC’s mistakes are entirely ideational, even though it likes to blame resources – it pays Chris Evans more than £2 million per year, but even he is leaving. The BBC has replaced them with another TV personality (Paddy McGuinness) and a former cricketer (Andrew Flintoff) – more white men of no relevant merit, but with fashionable regional accents.

The BBC over-represents Scottish, Welsh, and gritty northern English accents. Channel 4 hires exaggerated regional and even foreign accents for its continuity announcers. It advertises itself with a walking logo that plays football in deprived areas and carries immigrants of colour across the Channel to land on the white cliffs of Dover.

Most news readers are now women. One television channel uses only women of colour. If you see or hear a male, you can bet he has a non-English accent.

Advertisers have followed the programmers’ biases, so that products and services are being promoted not on their merits, but on what they can do for social justice: voiceovers are strongly regionally accented, families are mixed race (although with the bias that only the male partner should be coloured), and white men are clueless until some “other” saves the day. One supermarket advertises its food with a family of colour warning the viewer not to tell their dumb white “Dad” that he’s eating healthy. Another supermarket’s Christmas advertising shows Muslims exchanging gifts. Rice is being advertised by immigrant families speaking only foreign languages. Any advert aimed at women claims that the product or service will empower them or make them “stronger” or let them do the things that society supposedly stops them doing.

Does this matter? Well, the media are ruining our entertainment, censoring our news, im-perfecting our markets, and encouraging our political and judicial systems towards reversed prejudices.

In last week’s news, the leading story has been a mobile phone video of a tasteless effigy of Grenfell Tower being burnt on Bonfire Night. Almost everybody with a public voice reacted like an insecure child who wants to fit in with the bullies, including the Prime Minister Theresa May, who rushed to condemn, without any caveats about proportionality, free speech, thicker skins, not wasting police time, or doing something about Jihadis who openly display legends to the effect of “Kill infidels” without ever being arrested.

Why? Attacking white males is fashionable, under the perverse pretence that this is anti-prejudicial. Journalists rushed to point out that the victims of Grenfell were not white, and that the partiers were white (notice that they did not point out that some were women). Subsequently, six white men were arrested for that video. This is the Orwellian world that Britain has become. Tastelessness has become a hate crime if white men can be blamed, but precursors to terrorism are not hate crimes if white men cannot be blamed; and the media are the arbiters of justice.

Perversely, the media are ruining their own business. The media are over-representing minorities – minorities in thoughts and deeds, who think that the mere presence of white or male faces is prejudicial to others.

Over-representing minorities doesn’t create a majority. The majority are turning off the conventional media, and getting content from alternative sources – contributing to the divisiveness, but rationally seeking true diversity of content, rather than superficial diversity obscuring fashionable monoculturalism.

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    Bruce Newsome
    Bruce Newsome, Ph.D. is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of California Berkeley
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