I don't often describe the racism or stereotyping promulgated through tv because there is so much of it and - especially on the news - it's farily constant but this one sticks out. Partly because of what I watching before. I was watcing a show about gang violence in Britain. It was great because, being presented by a youngish black man, it showed that youth gangs are part of urban living and not exclusively made of any one ethnic group. Even the police, when interviewed, understood that the phenomenon goes across all ethnicities. It showed that so much violence is youth on youth and about gang pride and the police know very little about what is actually going on because of the culture of silence - no one grasses, even if you're not in a gang... and because most of the victims (assault, attempted murder, murder) are kids or young people themselves.

So it was impressive. It was balanced and not filled with stereotypes about who is violent and who isn't - a piece of real investigative journalism. And then it ended. And an ad for another "documentary" came on. This one was framed differently. Phrases like 'honour killings' and 'ancient systems of honour'. Shots of women in Shalwar Kameez crying. The flag of Pakistan waving. Unsympathetic images of Asian (Indian) men. Everything about the ad implied Pakistanis as having a foreign and immutable code of conduct that is Islamic and violent and, importantly, over here. It's a normal kind of ad for that kind of sensational programme, masquerading propaganda and stereotypes as truth, but because it came directly after a piece of great journalism - the contrast was strong. We had just been watching a show about 'codes of honour', etc but it wasn't framed like that. It was framed like there was a problem going on that the government and police deny. That this problem is a youth thing and not specific to one ethnic group. Even as I was watching I was aware of the long history of gangs in this area - the Eastend of London - a history of white violence. What was clear was that there are ways of framing 'facts' - you can choose to support stereotypes and fuel fears of others by framing things in that way - or not.

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