The case of Shoot the Messenger
Sarita Malik

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.

in Adjusting the contrast
British television and constructs of race

Adjusting the contrast National and cultural identity, ethnicity and difference have always been major themes within the national psyche. People are witnessing the rise and visibility of far-right politics and counter-movements in the UK and USA. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need to defend the role of public service media. This book emerges at a time when these shifts and conjunctures that impact on and shape how 'race' and racial difference are perceived. They are coinciding with rapidly changing media contexts and environments and the kinds of racial representations that are constructed within public service broadcasting (PSB), specifically the BBC and Channel 4. The book explores a range of texts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of race and its relationship to television. Policies and the management of race; transnationalism and racial diversity; historical questions of representation; the myth of a multicultural England are also explored. It interrogates three television primarily created by women, written by women, feature women in most of the lead roles, and forcefully reassert the place of women in British history. The book contributes to the range of debates around television drama and black representation, examining BBC's Shoot the Messenger and Top Boy. Finally, it explores some of the history that led to the belated breakthrough of Black and Asian British comedy. The book also looks at the production of jokes about race and colour prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and questioning what these jokes tell us about British multiculturalism in this period.

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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents transnational interpretations of how Black people have been represented on British television. It explores a range of contexts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of 'race' and its specific relationship with public service television. The book outlines how current studies of transnationalism highlight the importance of contemporary information societies and the global consortiums of transnational corporations. It examines how the 2005 reboot of the classic series utilises deracialised and decontextualised slavery allegories to absolve white guilt over the transatlantic slave trade. The book also examines the uses of race, immigration and multiculturalism as comic themes in British television sitcoms from the 1960s to the 1980s. It also explores the politics of 'tick-boxing' especially in regard to public service remits.

in Adjusting the contrast
Screen and digital labour as resistance
Photini Vrikki, Sarita Malik, and Aditi Jaganathan

How have ideas of race and belonging helped shape creative work? Chapter 3 explores how different generations of Black and Asian activists in the UK have mobilised screen media, from film to digital, as a response to the institutional practices and cultural norms that generate disparate racialised outcomes. The discussion provides an opportunity to focus on the motivations of creative activists who use the film form and podcasting to agitate for anti-racism. The chapter provides an overview of the Black British context of creative production and exclusion. It foregrounds the testimonies of archivists, curators, podcasters and filmmakers to explore the anti-racist interruptions that are made possible by different media technologies and platforms; the particular interventions that are envisaged by cultural producers; and the effects that such representations actually create.

in Creativity and resistance in a hostile world

What can culture, and its manifestations in artistic and creative forms, ‘do’? Creativity and resistance draws on original collaborative research that brings together a range of stories and perspectives on the role of creativity and resistance in a hostile environment. In times of racial nationalism across the world, it seeks to connect, in a grounded way, how creative acts have agitated for social change. The book suggests that creative actions themselves, and acting together creatively, can at the same time offer vital sources of hope.

Drawing on a series of case studies, Creativity and resistance focuses on the past and emergent grassroots arts work that has responded to migration, racism and social exclusion across several contexts and locations, including England, Northern Ireland and India. The book makes a timely intervention, foregrounding the value of creativity for those who are commonly marginalised from centres of power, including from the mainstream cultural industries. Bringing together academic research with individual and group experiences, the authors also consider the possibilities and limitations of collaborative research projects.

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Creativity and resistance in a hostile world
Sarita Malik, Churnjeet Mahn, Michael Pierse, and Ben Rogaly

In this chapter we offer the critical and theoretical backdrop to Creativity and resistance, a project designed to understand the connection between creativity and resistance for marginalised communities. We begin by discussing the context of the ‘hostile environment’ in the UK and the rise in xenophobia and racism which has accompanied Brexit. We extend this discussion into a broader consideration of ethnonationalism and histories of racism and empire to understand the value in connecting different geographical case studies in order to read a continuity and commonality between types of artistic resistance. Through a discussion of grassroots creative movements, we consider how different kinds of power structures have the potential to create more inclusive models for society and how creativity can become a crucial tool for enacting social change. Finally, the chapter introduces the chapters in the volume, all of which explore different dimensions of the arguments raised in the introduction.

in Creativity and resistance in a hostile world
Churnjeet Mahn, Sarita Malik, Michael Pierse, and Ben Rogaly

In this chapter we outline the theory and practice that undergirded our solidarity in the project. The chapter contains some of the readings, the references, the routes, that we all brought into the project to understand how creative forms of resistance have responded to hostile environments and why. We consider in particular how our work was inspired by bell hooks’ concept of ‘radical openness’, reflect on border art as resistance and expand on what we mean by interruption. At the end we consider some of the potential contradictions entailed when salaried academics attempt to engage in work that is radically transformational.

in Creativity and resistance in a hostile world
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The complexities of ‘radical openness’ in collaborative research
Daisy Hasan-Bounds, Sarita Malik, and Jasber Singh

Working with grassroots creative acts and producers is an attempt to connect theory and practice. Chapter 2 reflects on some of the complexities of co-production and how ‘lived theory’ has been implemented in Creativity and resistance. Co-creating research has been underpinned by the hope that such collaborative practice would help to achieve more inclusion, thereby providing a better understanding of the needs, predicaments and contexts of diverse communities. In critically outlining how the research has sought to take the actual experiences of research collaborators as a starting point, this chapter draws on the team’s intellectual framing and development in the project of bell hooks’ concept of ‘radical openness’, as well as on critical reflections from research team members and producers, community groups and academic partners. The chapter reflects on the extent to which a collaborative research approach can open up the opportunity to produce a new kind of research space in which collaborators help to shape the research process. We ask to what extent the project succeeded in mobilizing the idea of ‘lived theory’. We also ask, to what extent decolonisation can be achieved in a context where disenfranchised communities are actively part of the research process and are situated as agents making claims on their own terms through creative practice.

in Creativity and resistance in a hostile world
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Michael Pierse, Churnjeet Mahn, Sarita Malik, and Ben Rogaly

The conclusion brings together the range of learning across the book in relation to co-creativity, radical openness and creative interruptions in a hostile world. It suggests where the project has succeeded in developing creative interventions that disrupt the political status quo, while also conceding those areas where its attempts at doing so were scuppered or constrained by ideologies, orthodoxies and material practices. The chapter considers Henry Giroux’s concept of the ‘disimagination machine’ of neoliberalism and how the creative interruptions surveyed create resources and strategies with which to challenge the mechanisms of disimagination; it asks how we have used creativity to envisage alternative futures and connect with radical pasts.

in Creativity and resistance in a hostile world