The BBC has been criticised after the release of a clip from a new series of a sketch show that appeared to invoke stereotypes about Jamaican people.
The black British comedy show, namely Famalam, whose third season is being promoted ahead of its broadcast on BBC Three on Sunday, had its latest sketch revealed mostly on Twitter.
In the clip, titled Jamaican Countdown, critics say misogynistic language is used towards one character who selects the vowels and consonants for the contestants. She is later filmed being humped by the presenter.
It also suggests men of African-Caribbean descent are endowed with large penises. “When you hear the Countdown conundrum, its letters, numbers, hell of a cock, boom,” the singer behind a mock theme tune says.
An actor on the show said there was a “healthy balance of sketches that banter every part of society” and that Famalam sought to “poke fun on our truths and stereotypes”.
However, Paul Gilroy, the historian and founding director of the centre for the study of race and racism at University College London, tweeted: “This is what diverse and inclusive BBC Three puts out in the middle of this crisis.”
Kim-Marie Spence, a representative for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, tweeted: “This content reinforces harmful stereotypes about Jamaicans & Black ppl – oversexed, uneducated, druggies … Famalam is offensive & unbecoming in multicultural UK where Black Lives Matter.”
But Tom Moutchi, an actor in the show, said it “played on all stereotypes” and that his castmates included people of African and Caribbean origin.
“It’s only funny when it’s not you that’s the butt of the joke,” he tweeted. “The cast consist of Africans and Caribbeans. We’re not trying to single out or outrage anyone – we are just poking fun on our truths and stereotypes.”
He suggested he and his castmates had experienced racist abuse after the release of the sketch, adding: “If only you knew what we go through as BLACK people in this space. Yes, spirits are high but please don’t use Famalam or the cast as scapegoats.
“It’s also very weird how black people on here are campaigning for the removal of an ALL black show because you don’t like a part/section/skit … if you actually did watch the show you’d know there’s a healthy balance of sketches that banter every part of society.
“I love my Africans. But they can get bantered either way. I love my Caribbeans but they can get bantered too. No one is safe. It’s comedy mate. Get a grip.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “Famalam is an award-nominated sketch comedy series starring some of the UK’s best black comedy talent, which explores aspects of contemporary life from a black perspective.
“Now in its third series, the show has an established brand of humour which is in line with audience expectations and is well-known for challenging stereotypes and confronting issues.”
Source: The Guardian