Continuing with the idea that the media marginalize minority groups, I want to focus on how they construct an ‘Australian’.
Australia is a multicultural country, however this is not properly represented within Australian media. For example, the hit series ‘Packed to the Rafters’ focuses on an all white Australian family. The problem isn’t that the show depicts a white family, it’s that Packed to the Rafters is one of the many tv shows depicting Australian family life, with white characters at the core. For a majority of shows, the main characters are generally white. Audiences aren’t exposed to Australian families and/ or lead characters from other races or cultures. This brings on the notion of white people being considered ‘Australian’ and minority groups living in Australia as ‘un-Australian’.
Australian actor, Jay Laga’aia, advocates that shows such as this are placing people into two categories: those who fit in, and those who don’t.
The only real way to see the true diversity of Australia is through ABC and SBS, two channels out of the 18 we have free-to-air access to. No wonder people have developed these ideas that Australia is a white nation!
In fact, recently ‘Neighbours’ decided to introduce an Indian family as regulars on the show, including actor Sachin Joab. What’s great about adding this bit of diversity is that they aren’t portrayed as a stereotype; see a snippet of the Kapoor family on Neighbours through this link.
This move by channel 10 received a lot of criticism from their audience, saying the Indian family weren’t fitting in with the Neighbours theme of Australian suburban life. The term ‘un-Australian’ was one that popped up quite often. Needless to say, channel 10 had to remove many comments on their website.
Sachin‘s response to this racism, was that “there is various pockets that will say it is un-Australian to have an Indian or an Indian family on Ramsay St,” and that those certain pockets were “uneducated”. Even if that is the case, those who were outraged by an Indian family on Neighbours are simply reinforcing the views they’re gathered from the media.
I want to end this post with another quote from Sachin I heard on Insight recently, which focused on racism in Australia:
“What you see on TV can change your perspective on society for better or worse. If TV changes for the better, so will society#insightsbs”
So change your perspective. I recommend watching ‘The Slap’ from ABC, or ‘East West 101’ from SBS for both tv series not only captivate an audience, but also capture the diversity of Australia.