Society

British Actor: Lack Of TV Inclusion Causes Extremism

| by Alex Scarr

British actor Riz Ahmed delivered an address to U.K.'s Parliament March 2 in which he blamed the lack of diversity in television and movies for losing young people to extremism.

Ahmed, who recently starred in "Four Lions" and "Star Wars: Rogue One," reasoned that minority groups who are underrepresented in TV and movies gravitate toward "fringe narratives," according to The Guardian.

In his speech, he also lamented the rise in racial and religiously motivated hate crimes that have occurred after Britain's vote to withdraw from the European Union.

Ahmed believes TV has power in shaping the minds and attitudes of people, particularly young minorities.

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"If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism," he said in his speech, according to The Guardian. "In the mind of the Isis recruit, he's the next James Bond, right? Have you seen some of those Isis propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies."

"Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they valued?"

Ahmed also claimed British television, in particular, has not adapted to include minority actors because diversity is seen as an "added extra" and not necessary, according to The Guardian.

"It takes American remakes of British shows to cast someone like me,” he said in his address. "We end up going to America to find work. I meet with producers and directors here and they say 'we don't have anything for you, all our stories are set in Cornwall in the 1600s.'"

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Ahmed also said a lack of diversity can foster far-right extremism, and that underrepresentation of minorities generates a feeling that they do not belong, according to The Guardian.

"If we don't step up and tell a representative story … we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with Isis in Syria," he said, Fox News reports.

In his address, Ahmed suggested a potential solution to underrepresentation is monetary, according to The Guardian. He said public money should be tied to representation targets for television networks to break the cycle of top jobs going mainly to white men.

"[Minority groups] want to feel represented," he said. "In that task, we have failed."

Sources: The Guardian, Fox News / Photo credit: BBC

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