The BBC is involved in a fresh race row as Jamaica’s foreign minister complains over a Famalam sketch showing Caribbean men leering at women and high on cannabis.
Kamina Johnson-Smith branded the BBC Three clip, which created a Jamaican version of Channel 4 show Countdown, ‘outrageous and offensive’.
The episode sees a male host stare at a character playing maths boffin Rachel Riley, before he pretends to have sex with her. It also features a panellist high on marijuana, who forgets an answer to a question, and plays on the stereotype that black men are well endowed.
Ms Johnson-Smith tweeted: ‘This is outrageous and offensive to the incredible country which I am proud to represent along with every Jamaican at home and within our #Diaspora. I will immediately be writing formally on this! #StopThisShow.’
She was replying to a tweet from entrepreneur Nathaniel Peat, who wrote: ‘As the Global Jamaica Diaspora Counsel Rep for South UK @bbcthree the Jamaican community in the UK have expressed serious concerns at how offensive the content in this show is.
‘This doesn’t reflect our culture well and many are upset.
But the BBC defended Famalm, with channel controller Fiona Campbell saying it was not ‘malicious’, adding: ‘We stand by the creator’s brand of humour.’
She told the Edinburgh TV Festival: ‘Famalam is now in its third series and it is very successful.
‘It is not malicious humour and I think if you followed on social, the creators themselves said they are poking fun at all stereotypes.
‘There isn’t malice in the type of content.’
White BBC comedy chief Shane Allen added: ‘Don’t diss my beloved Famalam. If you are going to do something about tricky topics it needs to be from those communities, from those people who’ve got that voice.’
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Famalam… now in its third series, has an established brand of humour in line with audience expectations and is well known for confronting issues.’
It is not known whether the BBC is aware that an election campaign is in full swing in Jamaica, in which barbs can only be exchanged online due to coronavirus restrictions on campaigning. The opposition party has already suggested firing The Queen as head of state, and now another British institution, the BBC has come under fire.
The offending sketch can be seen by those who have a robust sense of humor and are not easily shocked at this link.
This is not the first recent occurrence of false images of Jamaicans as potheads have been given prominence in foreign media.
Sen. Kamala Harris, who is running for vice-president of the USA said last year that she is in favor of legalizing marijuana at the federal level, pushing back against detractors in her own party who say she has a history of being too aggressive on drug offenders.
“Half my family’s from Jamaica, are you kidding me?” Harris said in an interview on the subject of legalizing marijuana with a nationally syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club.”