“ Publicly funded body set up to promote racial equality. „
While anything that tries to persuade people who have racist views to change their opinions should be applauded, I really can't see this particular advert from the commission for racial equality having much long term effect. If converting people who hold this sort of view was as easy as that, it would have been done ages ago and there would have been a whole series of such commercials over the years. The main plus point of this advert so far has been the large amount of publicity it has generated, due to the stars involved, and this has at least brought racism into the spotlight and onto the agenda. There is no denying it is fairly well put together and the comedy aspect helps, though I'm not sure all of the morphing is a complete success. As a white thirty something male I have encountered many racists at both work and in my social life and I'm afraid the problem is not one of simply educating these people in this way. Yes, their opinions are usually expressed out of ignorance, in my experience, but these sort of people simply do not accept that they are ignorant, at least when there are a few of them together and it's safety in numbers. I'm sure we've all heard the comments that are spouted "as fact" by racists - coloured people are lazy, they're all criminals, they are not as intelligent as white people, they've taken all the jobs etc. How many times do you ever hear them say it on a one to one situation? It is also quite noticeable how fame and achievement, especially in the sporting arena seems to have an effect on racist attitudes too. A popular black footballer playing for the home side is cheered on by the home crowd because he is important to their team and the success of it, yet a black player playing for the opposition is still taunted with racist comments by sections of the same home crowd. This sort of illogical stupidity is not going to be swayed one bit by Lennox Lewis appearing as w
hite in this advert. Sure, some racists even now will cheer on Lennox because he's the Brit and they are prepared to put aside their usual predjudice, but put a white British boxer up against a coloured foreign fighter and see their reaction change. I believe that in the long term attitudes will change, as our society becomes more and more multi-cultural and things like mixed marriages become just a part of everyday life and not something that is a topic of conversation. The problem is that it could be a fair while before this happens, for to pretend that racists form only a tiny minority of the population would be to belittle a problem that has lasted for centuries. I have written this opinion from the perspective of white racism towards coloured people, but would find the oposite to be equally as unacceptable.
This advert is supposed to somehow convey the message that colour doesn't matter using revolutionary new computer techniques to change famous celebrities into their opposite race counterparts. It takes the obvious characteristics of the people and questions whether their colour effects them. There is a humorous but serious feel. Chris Evans saying 'would it make me more annoying' the best bit. The effects aren't actually that good and it's actually quite scary. I don't think it conveys any message particularly well and people will never stop being racist just because of an advert, but has good intentions for a matter which definatly needs something positive done to change attitudes.
This much-publicised ‘advertisement’ has been produced by the Commission for Racial Equality and is technically extremely impressive. It features several high profile celebrities who are ‘morphed’ by special effect into different racial appearances. Each person then asks the question “Would I be more/less ….. if I was black/white/Asian?” (in the case of Chris Evans, “Would I be less irritating if I was black?” the answer to which I imagine we could all answer with unanimity !) I feel that the advert achieves some of its apparent objectives. It certainly is attention grabbing. Anything featuring A - list celebrities will, I suppose, attract the attention of the masses - a fact borne out by the media attention it received yesterday, on its release date. In terms of the production, although morphing is a process we have all become familiar with in the computer age it is nonetheless done extremely well. Everyone featured is almost instantly recognisable, and the impact of the transformations is immediate. It also has a memorable and amusing punchline. Peter Stringfellow, scantily clad, pin-up poised and ever odious is transformed into a black man who enquires “Would I have greater sex-appeal if I was black?” (Or words to that effect – the image was too repellent to take it in properly!) I do however think that despite its clearly good intentions, the ad does fall somewhat short of the mark. Two of the areas in society least affected by racism these days are the entertainment and sports industries (although we are all aware that there are still some problems in football.) Although undeniably less watchable, the ad would have made a more realistic point had it featured, say, a black police officer, a white corner shop keeper or anyone else typified in a stereotypical way in society. There is a very real point to be made about public racial perce
ption, and I think that the ad is coming from the right place. As a British born female with parents and grandparents from India and of European extraction, I appear to all intent and purpose, white. My brother and some of my extended family of our generation are Asian in appearance. Our experiences in terms of our race have been extremely different (and I have to say in my case, much easier) owing to our appearances. People have often made extremely racist comments in my presence, and when made aware of the offence they have caused, have refused to accept or acknowledge that I could possibly be different to them “’cos you don’t look it.” There is often no acceptance of any nuance of other races – culture, religion, dress – how can a person who doesn’t wear ‘weird’ clothes with a name like mine possibly be Asian? Black is black it seems. And I am not. And so, in some ways, this ad makes a very real and serious point, although I am unsure that it will impact in the way it intends to. It may be a move in the right direction though. I certainly hope so. And Peter Stringfellow – you’d have more sex appeal if you and your tousled yellow barnet were banished from our screens permanantly!