Should drama/film be representational of life “as we wish it to be”, or should it provoke and challenge by asking difficult and uncomfortable questions about life “as it really is”.

A new BBC film certainly looks set to provoke and challenge in the latter sense with a controversial portrayal of black people.

Shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New york, where it won writer, Sharon Foster, the Dennis Potter screenwriting award, it has its first UK screening on the 22nd and 23rd August at the Edinburgh Film Festival and is due to be shown on BBC2 at the end on the month.

Originally entitled F**k Black People, it tells the story of Joe, who, with his career in tatters and his life at a crossroads, comes to the conclusion that all of his problems are due to black people–his own people.

The Festival’s review describes it as “funny, provocative and frequently scathing”.

Toyin Agbetu of black media-watch group Ligali says:

“It’s going to be the flagship programme for racism. If you’re a racist and you want something to beat black people over the head with, here comes Shoot the Messenger. It’s the BNP’s calling card.”

As I haven’t seen it yet I couldn’t possibly comment, although my instinctive reaction to Mr Agbetu’s statement is that he is misguided.

Its eventual title, Shoot the Messenger, screams the film’s ironic standpoint from the rooftops for one thing; also its writer, director and cast are black: hardly the type of production that a racist will want to see, let alone use as a club with which to attack the very community from which it spawns.

In an (unsuccessful, to my mind) attempt to illustrate his point Agbetu offers the following twist on the concept:

F**k white people.

Whenever I think about it, everything bad that has ever happened to me has involved a ‘white’ person.

White people are rapists. Six in ten men have confessed that they would rape if they could get away with it.

White people make up 95% of the world’s serial killers.

White people continue to murder young African people simply because they are African.

White police continue to kill and abuse African people in custody… and get away with it.

White people run paedophile rings some of which have formed ‘aid’ organisations that work in Africa and Asia where they bribe the children with food for sex.

White people are terrorists who freely kill and maim people they don’t like… and they get away with it.

White people continue to exploit Africa, her resources and her people through corporate and politically enabled theft masquerading as ‘investment’ and ‘aid’.

White people have a serious problem with a rampant drink, drug and hooligan culture that afflicts many of their young people.

White people enjoyed and revelled in the physical and mental abuse of African people for centuries as they enslaved millions of African people for the economic gain of their respective nations. They consequently refuse to talk about this era of history let alone apologise and reparate for it.

White people kill fellow white people all the time in ‘white on white’ crime.

White people are uneducated and learn about politics by simply regurgitating tabloid headlines to each other.

White people are obsessed with the culture of ‘others’ because their own is so stagnant.

White people have an identity crisis that sees them seeking bigger lips, fuller bums, larger breasts, darker skin and they achieve these by self imposed mutilation processes

White people are fake. Their attempts to have informed discourse on immigration, human rights and political correctness masks their raging and ingrained racism!

White people should stop talking about world war one, world war two, the battle of the Somme, D-Day, Armistice Day, the Holocaust and the apparent ‘achievements’ of their Empire… it’s boring. Get over it.

Finally, white people are intolerant, ignorant, irrational and idiotic.

Now, if, as a white person, you found this “nauseating repetition of negativity” (Mr Agbetu’s words) offensive I respectfully suggest that you are paranoid, insecure and probably a closet racist.

Get over it.

Links: Guardian, MediaWatch (Ligali), Edinburgh Film Festival