Black British drama, losses and gains
The case of Shoot the Messenger
in Adjusting the contrast
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This chapter discusses how stylistically, Shoot the Messenger's (STM) non-realist techniques, non-linear form and overt constructedness depart from the traditional modes of social realism that have prevailed in the Black British television drama. It begins with a broader contextualisation of the drama genre in its treatment of 'race' and reference as an earlier BBC single play Fable written by the White playwright, John Hopkins. The chapter proposes that the major responses to STM have neglected its more complicated nuances and the ways in which these can help us understand the processes of racialisation in post-colonial settings. It suggests that the STM's devices of unstable narration, irony and stylistic abstraction add to the difficulty of reading the text as a 'reflection' of reality. The chapter also suggests that STM can in fact be interpreted as a radical critique of social inequality and the destructive effects of living with ethnicised social categories.

Adjusting the contrast

British television and constructs of race

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