Thursday, 2 September 2010

Dara vs the Media

Adrian Edmondson was slagging off the new, younger comedians the other day. So many of them, he suggests, perform basically the same act, interspersed with appearances on panel shows. You could interchange them and no one would notice the difference. He has a point, but some of the bright young-ish things have a certain something (in fact Ade did acknowledge this), and among those bright stars I would include Dara O Briain.

I've recently read our Dara's book Tickling the English (subtitled a funny man's notes on a country and his people), in which he tries that popular sport, analyzing what makes the English, erm, English, in this case through observation on a tour of comedy venues. Leaving aside the somewhat biassed sample that is represented by a comedy audience, it is quite interesting, though doesn't have the insight as an observational travel book of Stuart Maconie's cracking pair of titles Pies and Prejudice and Adventures on the High Teas.

There was one very interesting point, though. Dara (sorry for the familiarity, but if I write 'O Briain' it looks like I'm back in Latin class, using the vocative: 'Briain; O Briain; Briain; To a Briain; Of a Briain; By, with or from a Briain') wonders why we get so worried about immigration in the UK. He points out that in the last census (admittedly rather dated figures now) only around 2.5% of the population were ethnically Asian and around 2% Afro-Caribbean. He can't understand why some people get so worked up about us being overwhelmed - which is strange, because his own work area (the media, I mean, not comedians) can surely take a major portion of the blame.

Take the news. I have many times seen news bulletins that go on (and on) about the number of immigrants coming into the country and the difficulty of controlling the process and supporting them. I have hardly ever heard the news put this into context with percentages of the population as a whole. Result? It sounds like we're drowning in unwanted multiculturalism.

Even worse, whenever said news cameras need to portray a school (say), you can pretty well guarantee the class will not have a mix of ethnic background that is representative of the national demographic. In part this is because of laziness - the TV crews can't be bothered to move away from London to find a more representative picture - and in part it's incorrectly applied political correctness that assumes any classroom with less than half the students of varied ethnic background is biassed.

So really, Dara, it's not surprising people misunderstand the position when you lot are always showing us that it's different from the way it really is. Have a word with your mates in the newsroom, won't you?

Photo from Wikipedia

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