Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Newsround Blog's review of 2011 - In a nutshell there were signs of progress, but prejudice has yet to be overcome.

The first series of Sadie J began in January and, although gender traditional roles were challenged, the comedy stopped short at portrayal of even a single lesbian, gay or bisexual character. I suspect the second series will be no better.

Ballet Boys was a documentary about three brothers from Liverpool. The boys didn't identify as gay, but this documentary stood out for acknowledging and affirming children who are LGB. The programme was an exception, as no other CBBC programme of 2011 dealt with the issue.

If Ballet Boys was a high point of the year, in May we had one its lowest points - the CBBC drama Leonardo. The BBC has now confirmed that it is signed up to all four sections of the Creative Diversity Pledge (blog 11 December 2011) and Kindle Entertainment has confirmed it is signed up to two of the sections of the CDN Pledge, including "Encouraging diversity in output." So exactly why Leonardo da Vinci's sexual orientation was misrepresented is something of a mystery. Unless, of course, it was simply down to prejudice.

It seems that promises BBC children's TV would improve in terms of diversity have come to nothing. But what about programmes which, though not specifically targeted for children, are nevertheless popular with young audiences?

After years of doubt and occasional misdirection it is now known that Ben Mitchell from Eastenders identifies as gay. In September we saw him having to come to terms with it. On 29 September 2011 a greatly distressed Ben broke down in tears. Almost invariably, when the BBC screens a powerful story on Eastenders, there's a message during the closing credits with a BBC Action Helpline number to call for viewers "affected by any of the issues." But on that occasion there was nothing.

Despite the absence of young lesbian and gay role models on TV the BBC has no qualms in portraying Ben as an obnoxious, evil teenager. Perhaps it's because BBC producers accept the Vatican's teaching that "homosexual persons" have a tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.

BBC bosses ought to read the recently published Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/19/41) which makes clear that the media have a role to play by eliminating negative stereotyping of LGBT people in television programmes popular among young people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Disagree in part with your Eastenders comments.

Bryan Kirkwood is the exec producer and gay himself, he created John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks etc.

I also feel we have good role models in Christian and Syed. It would be more unfair to not portray the odd "evil" gay. That said its not like Ben is unredeemable ;-)

However thumbs up to everything else.