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Dreaming of a non-white media

Think of five Australian actors. Were any of them not white? If they were, then good for you but if not don’t be surprised if you think about it for ages after this and the only one you can think of is Deborah Mailman. The truth is that despite the fact that over 90% of the population can trace its heritage back to another country within two generations this isn’t reflected in our media. Even people in Brittan have noticed with Trevor Phillips calling our media ‘hideously white’.

This time last year Samoan actor Jay Laga’aia struck out at the industry for its lack of multicultural casting and started up a fire about the issue. A major picking point within the industry is the seemingly lack of ‘colour-blind casting’ where no ethnicity is in mind for the character. As such, the only roles that non-white actors seem to get is criminals and stereotypes.

The media has so much more influence than a lot of people realise. It has the power to dictate what we see as beautiful, perfect, normal and acceptable. If the media only shows white faces on the screen then this can subconsciously work its way into everyone’s mind that a white society is the way to go and forget all this multicultural business.

Out and out racism is generally not accepted in Australian society anymore but it isn’t dead; it’s just become more subtle and entrenched. Most people probably don’t even realise they’re doing it and the state of our media is an example of this. The Australian media suffers from a lack of being ‘visibly different’ as Jakubowicz puts it, meaning that you cannot see any different ethnicities on the screen. The media as a whole needs to look at itself and begin to cast without prejudice and stereotypes before they hurt Australia’s social fabric and its international reputation even further.

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