Has TV influenced our understanding of family through its representation of family and hence altered the way in which we identify accepted or normal practice with regard to family TV consumption?
This quote is taken from the post ‘Media consumption and its affect on the good old days of TV viewing’ and is an ideal way to begin this post on representations of family in popular TV shows and the affect this may or may not have on its audience.
The first and most pertinent example to mind is that of Home and Away. Firass Dirani recently tackled this point in an interview and article for the Sydney Morning Herald, noting ‘When you walk down Sydney streets you see so many different cultures and so many different people. Our TVs haven’t reflected that yet.’ (Wilkinson, 2012)
And he’s not alone, in that same article, Jay Laga’aia is quoted in support, ‘hats off to you Firass Dirani, for a call to stop commercial network producers casting only white actors. Only on Australian screens. Shame!’ (Wilkinson, 2012)
Considering Francis L. F. Lee’s hypothesis that commercial television is more likely to positively engage a family type dynamic, is this not irresponsible content production?
Dirani suggests in another article from She Knows Australia ‘those people on Winners & Losers in their floral colours and their pastels. I don’t even know people like this. We need to watch ourselves, warts and all; flaws and all,’ (Blais, 2012) and it would seem necessary to add Packed to the Rafters and Neighbours to the mix, both also buying into a sense of racial tokenism.
In response we have Geoff Field from 2dayfm, who dips in with ‘maybe both men have a point, but I hope the industry TV isn’t racist, and compared to the top shows in the 70’s and 80’s like Number 96 and Prisoner it’s certainly moved on to reflect the changing face of Australia.’ (Field, 2013)
So are we getting a bit ahead of ourselves? Realistically, how influential are shows such as Neighbours or Home and Away on our sense of national identity?
It is apparent that these shows should be at the forefront of our minds. ‘Neighbours was first broadcast in Australia 18 years ago, has been running on BBC1 since 1988 and is currently on air in around 60 countries,’ (Deans, 2004) that’s Jason Deans writing for the Guardian in London back in 2004. The main reason of the article however, ‘after more than 4,000 episodes and 18 years on screen, Australian soap Neighbours has finally cracked America’ (Deans, 2004.
With such widespread reach as this surely we must consider how our shows are representing our culture. When we saw something we didn’t like in Sylvania Waters we revolted against it. So what is there to like about these shows? And why aren’t we doing anything about it?
Deans, Jason 2004 ‘Neighbours knocks on America’s Door’. The Guardian [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/mar/24/broadcasting. [Accessed 15 April 2013].
Field, Geoff 2013 ‘Is There A ‘White Australia’ Policy On TV?’. 2dayfm [Online] Available at: http://www.2dayfm.com.au/shows/geoff-field/blog/is-there-a-white-australia-policy-on-tv/. [Accessed 15 April 2013].
Blais, Nic 2012 ‘Claims Australian TV is racist’. She Knows Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sheknows.com.au/entertainment/articles/949925/claims-australian-tv-is-racist. [Accessed 13 April 2013].
Wilkinson, Georgia 2012 ‘Star hits out at Home and Away racism’ The Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment. [Online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/star-hits-out-at-home-and-away-racism-20120216-1ta23.html. [Accessed 12 April 2013].