Via the Guardian Newspaper
Pitting hip-hop star Dizzee Rascal against Jeremy Paxman in a Newsnight special was probably designed to up the “yoof” factor in the heavyweight debate about the consequences of Barack Obama’s election victory.
But rather than receiving plaudits for making the programme less stuffy, the BBC has been criticised for its unorthodox choice of guest, with Paxman accused of conducting a “patronising” and “crass” interview with the London-born rapper.Critics say the 58-year-old journalist asked questions that he would not have put to a young white musician – such as “Mr Rascal, do you feel yourself to be British?”
Dizzee Rascal, real name Dylan Mills, is a leading proponent of UK hip-hop and grime, and won the Mercury Music prize in 2003.
Lee Billingham of the charity Love Music Hate Racism said yesterday: “Why does a leading BBC news journalist deem it necessary to ask a black British person ‘do you feel yourself to be British’? Would he have asked Barack Obama ‘do you feel yourself to be American’, of course not.”
He added: “A better line of inquiry would be to explore if racism is affecting whether non-whites ‘feel British’ in 2008. From Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’ to the government’s ‘citizenship test’ to Paxman’s ridiculous question last night, it seems that even if you’re third or fourth generation British, if you have black or brown skin then your nationality can be brought into question, where your white counterpart’s would not.”
Meanwhile the musician has come under fire from some sections of the black community for fuelling “negative stereotypes of young inner city people, especially black people”, by using slang such as “innit” and “wassappenin” during the interview, and for joking about running for prime minister.
The BBC has not escaped criticism either. Around 50 people have called the corporation to complain about Wednesday’s programme, all of whom questioned Dizzee Rascal’s suitability as a guest on the special which the BBC said was watched by 1.4 million people.
Facebook groups have also been set up urging users to add their voices to the debate. One message doing the rounds on Facebook said: “Why is it that Britain’s minorities are always depicted in this negative light, making our positive achievements seem somewhat belittled. The BBC creates a false impression of what we are. They promote one side of the spectrum, which is usually the negative side.
“There were many intelligent black people from the UK [who] would have represented us correctly, but due to the negative images that the BBC so regularly promotes it was fitting for them to pick a RAPPER, to speak on one of the most momentous occasions for black people in the 21st century.”
But DJ Semtex, a presenter on BBC 1Xtra, said on his blog: “Dizzee was sincere, accurate, unfazed by the political process, and entertaining, which is why they put him on primetime TV.” It was nonsense, said DJ Semtex, to suggest that the Newsnight slot misrepresented black people because the senior black politician, Lady Amos, appeared alongside Dizzee Rascal.
Bashy, a north London MC wrote on his blog: “Dizzee is a mad talented platinum selling artist, but in a time of change TV channels should be way more responsible & carefully choose who represents our community, in order to build a relationship of trust.
“That was a perfect time to give the young people of Britain a voice regardless of colour & I personally feel Dizzee didn’t do us justice & further fuelled negative stereotypes of young inner city people, especially black people.”
On the Threadless blog, commentators criticised Paxman’s technique. One said: “I mean … asking Dizzee Rascal… if he considers himself British? I think that’s more than a bit patronising.” Another said Paxman was “especially crass”.
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “Jeremy Paxman’s question to Dizzee Rascal about whether he felt himself to be British was a direct response to the preceding comments from Baroness Amos who was saying that in the UK, as opposed to the US, we don’t talk about the nature of Britishness and what it means to be British. The topics being discussed were race, nationality and identity and this question was a natural part of that discussion.”
Dizzee Rascal could not be reached for comment.
For those who missed Dizzie’s ‘road man’ antics on Wednesday’s Newsnight, watch him in action below…..
Poor Baroness Amos……..LOL.. SMH….
Categories: UK News