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'How is the recent broadcasting of the BBC documentary 'The Secret Policeman' relevant to the continuing struggle for the advancement of non-whites in Britain?'

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0149068 SELF DEVISED QUESTION: 'How is the recent broadcasting of the BBC documentary 'The Secret Policeman' relevant to the continuing struggle for the advancement of non-whites in Britain?' On Tuesday 21st October 2003, the BBC's documentary The Secret Policeman was broadcast to approximately 5 million viewers in Britain. Mark Daly, an undercover reporter had spent seven months posing as a fellow trainee at the Bruche National Training Centre in Cheshire to film an expos´┐Ż on racism among police recruits. The film not only provided evidence of police racism but also highlighted the stereotypical representations of Black identity within Western ideology. In this essay I propose to investigate how the British media's representation of Blacks has, rather than reflecting reality, constructed it. My research predominantly focuses on evidence gathered from racial reports and theories of the 1980's until the present day and examines the development, if any, within race representation in the media. Pre-1980's case studies are generally omitted because of the rapid development of discussion of racial issues as a reaction to the brutal riots of that decade. Additionally, the institutional and individual stereotyping revealed within The Secret Policeman can be directly related to prevalent issues specifically within the media of the previous two decades. Controversially, I ultimately aim to depict The Secret Policeman as a symbol of advancement in Black representation within Britain. "The use of the term 'Black bastard' and 'Nigger'... isn't racist" 1 The Secret Policeman's inclusion of a clip of racist remarks by the Police Federation's Representative in 1983 is an accurate reflection of the racial turmoil that Britain's Institutions and communities were in. Black lawlessness was an image that dominated the Press reporting on riots from 1980 - 85. A predominantly Black riot against at Bristol's police force in 1980 was followed by further confrontational outbreaks in 1981. The first two years of riots gained Britain's (particularly young) ...read more.


The headlines of news reports about ethnic affairs summarize events that the media's white academics, teachers, writers and political activists define as relevant to white and black readers' interests. The media's manipulation of headlines dramatized the 1980's anti-racism only to emphasise the Western ideology of Black negativity. For example the Telegraph's conspicuous headline 'bossy nonsense' clearly established the tedium felt by the author towards the issue of tackling racism. The Observer's recent negative portrayal of institutional antagonists of anti-racism reveals a positive shift from the media's earlier resentment towards the anti-racist movements. So what is the ideological implication of the shift from 1980's resentment to the Observer's stance? How is the exposure of racism in today's society a sign of improved race-relations? Who is to blame for today's existing racism? "Is it the BBC's fault this has happened?"14 BBC Radio One questioned both the responsibility of the police and the media in the revelation of The Secret Policeman. Radio One criticised the constable of North Wales for his reference to the hysteria related to terrorism, extremist Muslims and asylum as the rationale for increased racist views. Blaming society, it commented, was no option for police professionals who should "concentrate on training... and challenge prejudice"15. Is the BBC's accusation equitable or is pardoning society a means of pardoning the media to ultimately pardon itself? 'How we are seen determines in part how we are treated; how we treat others is based on how we see them; such seeing comes from representation.'16 Traditionally founded on Reithian ideas of independence, access and expression, the BBC aimed to inform, educate and entertain the masses. The BBC devised itself an identity as the national cultural institution that would represent Britain's public through Britain's voice. In a statement following the arrest of Mark Daly, the BBC reflected the all-purpose mission they were founded upon: 'We believe this to be a matter of significant public interest'17. ...read more.


Malik proposed that truthful representations could emerge only through more diverse, aesthetically innovative and accurate portrayals of Blacks. More relevantly to The Secret Policeman, Malik highlighted the need for a rethink of the constituent parts that compose Britain's media: resources, employment and ultimately its national heritage. Whilst the number of Blacks and ethnic minorities on British television has increased dramatically - particularly in urban based soaps such as Holby City and Eastenders - the production teams and editors continue to favour Whites. My premise that The Secret Policemen established an interesting relationship with the development of British media was formed whilst listening to a Radio Four news programme25. It suggested that The Secret Policeman provided hard evidence that racism had gone underground. The programme concluded that although the police understood the 'should's and shouldn't's' of racial procedures, impartiality was never entrenched in their hearts and minds. Consistently with my research, the social learning process of the media has potentially played a huge role in PC Pulling's racist prejudices and discrimination. Racism is not innate after all; it is learned. So how is it that I feel confident to propose The Secret Policeman as evidence of enhanced race-relations within the media? The role of the media is not isolated, but connected in numerous ways to the elites in general; this time it stood alone. The BBC assumed the role of the anti-racist and confronted the majority. The Secret Policeman exposed to huge public numbers, the long-standing stereotypes of the 'ruling-race' and gave scope for investigating the origins of such beliefs. More positively the documentary received instant and drastic responses from both the public and the institutions. The Home Office immediately introduced plans for new police integrity tests and understood the need for societal change. The media's willingness to scrutinise and criticise the racism revealed in The Secret Policeman marked a complete reversal from the attacks on anti-racism evident in the 1980's. The Secret Policeman has served a distinctive purpose. It has illustrated what has long been apparent but too rarely admitted; White power is dangerously flawed. ...read more.

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