As racism happens in Australian media, there are bigger questions we need to reflect. Is racism deep-rooted in our society? Do we really accept people who come from different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds? And based on how asylum seekers are portrayed and degraded, is there an underlying fear of newcomers?
In the 2000 satirical film Bamboozled, director Spike Lee highlights the serious problems and implications of stereotypical racist representations in the media. The main character in the film is Pierre Delacroix, a wealthy and successful African American television writer for a prominent television station, Continental Network System, or CNS. Delacroix is frustrated with his boss, Thomas Dunwitty, who is unhappy with Delacroix’s recent ideas for a new African-American television show. When Delacroix pitches storylines featuring prominent and successful upper and middle class African American characters, Dunwitty immediately tells him that viewers would not be interested in those depictions, as they seem to be of white people with black faces. Instead, Dunwitty, a white American who considers himself to be “blacker” than Delacroix, insists that Delacroix write something humorous and funny that American viewers would enjoy watching. Enraged, Delacroix, along with his assistant Sloan Hopkins, decides to write a show so offensive and racist that it proves that the network only wants to show negative stereotypical images of African Americans in the media. Delacroix, stuck in a contract with CNS, hopes that his offensive show gets him fired from his position.
BBC NEWS | UK | Head-to-head: Racism in the media
Although The Age newspaper often attempts to counteract this trend, recent coverage of Julia Gillard’s proposal to ship asylum seekers to Malaysian detention centres has hightlighted how the racial bias in Australian media has influenced the way in which people approach these issues.