Britain’s Got Talent: a staple of Saturday night entertainment, a show where a variety of different talents are shown, from a variety of different people.
Black Lives Matter: a staple of the fight for equality, a movement that carries a variety of different voices from a variety of people across the globe.
It would be convenient for these two entities to dovetail and help provide a platform for important messages to be broadcast to the nation. However, a large portion of BGT viewers are clearly not comfortable with the BLM movement at all…
Britain’s Got Talent received over 15,000 Ofcom complaints after Diversity’s “Black lives Matter” dance, led by show- judge Ashley Banjo. The dance imitated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the murder of George Floyd by disgraced police officer Derek Chauvin whilst playing an “I Can’t Breathe” soundtrack, the now instantly recognisable last words of George Floyd. The dance group then went on to imitate scenes of police brutality that followed the riots and protests witnessed this year.
My personal response to the dance was one of emotion. It was one of the most thought-provoking and powerful pieces of television I had seen on prime-time TV. As BGT is a family show, the dance brought discussions to family homes that would not have occurred otherwise; this is a positive move, there will have been thousands of children watching across the country that are now more aware of racism and inequality than they were before viewing the dance. This is healthy for the future of society, if these important messages can be shown on a hugely popular show, then maybe racial abuse and inequality can become a more talked-about topic, not something we shy away from or brush under the carpet but something that we can face head on, encouraging future generations to do more than simply disagree with racist attitudes, but to fight them and ultimately do everything they can to eradicate it from our society.
The unwillingness to back BLM is staggering enough, but to actively oppose it is a much deeper problem
Fellow show-judge Amanda Holden showed her support for Diversity and their performance on Good Morning Britain, stating that “The number of negative complaints means this conversation is right and fundamental and should continue to happen.” This statement is correct, every person who complained does not have the education or basic human morals to understand that Black lives Matter, otherwise they would not have had anything to complain about. Holden went on to reveal that the show did receive thousands of positive messages regarding the performance, which does give me some positive thoughts , however it’s clear that messages such as the one shown on BGT divide opinion in the UK, which shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.
The sheer number of complainants shows that there is a huge chunk of society that are not on board with BLM, this must be through either lack of education or prejudice as there are no excuses to not support the movement. All BLM asks for is equality, and if this is met with complaints when shown on prime time TV, then clearly as a country we are not capable of giving black people the equality they have a right to as human beings; this is not acceptable and MUST change.
Further complaints were also made as judge Alesha Dixon wore a BLM necklace during an episode of the show. It is genuinely baffling. The level of stupidity and lack of education on the topic shown by the complainers are more than just disappointing, they are infuriating. We simply cannot tackle racism when a necklace supporting a movement that aims to do just that is receiving mountains of complaints. In an ideal world, if the complainants could use just half of the fury, they show towards a necklace on actually fighting racism, then maybe a lot of the issues we see wouldn’t exist. But its not an ideal world, its far from it when black people cannot even express their voices or campaign for equality without meeting friction in some form or another. Whilst the complaints themselves may not be direct acts of racism, they do show a lack of understanding of what the movement regards. Shunning black people who express their feelings and experiences of racism on TV is a racist attitude. No excuses. We must be better.
In response to the thousands of Ofcom complaints, BGT comedian Nabil Abdulrashid took aim at the critics during his performance, cracking jokes at the expense of the people who complained , only to be met with a further 900 complaints from the British public. Nabil also revealed that he had received death threats from viewers after his set. This is sickening behaviour and it is starting to feel like people of colour are unable to even joke about their experiences with prejudice without receiving even more abuse. It simply cannot continue.
Unfortunately, the Britain’s Got Talents complaints are not a case in isolation and there have been numerous examples of resistance to Black Lives Matter, notably the far-right protestors in London who claimed to be “defending the Cenotaph” from a BLM protest that had already been cancelled, and individuals who were photographed holding “White Lives Matter” banners outside Edinburgh Castle in August.
The unwillingness to back BLM is staggering enough, but to actively oppose it is a much deeper problem, it shows that the UK has a deep-rooted problem with racism, and these examples reveal that there are people out there with a complete lack of empathy for the racial abuse and unfair treatment that black people have been subject to throughout history and in the present day.
The sooner certain members of society can research the BLM movement and gain a deeper understanding of what it stands for the better. It is not a phase, it is not a bandwagon, it is real life, it is important and people from all backgrounds should acknowledge the systemic racism that still runs through the veins of our society, and combat it accordingly.