British television and religion:audience perspectivesRuth Deller (@ruthdeller)
Where does discussion occur?Entertainment forums (e.g. Digital Spy, Unreality TV)General interest forums (e.g. The Student Room)Focus groups: online and offlineYouTube: comments and response videosBroadcaster/programme blogs and forumsFaith group forums/blogs/sitesTwitterIndividuals blogs and comments
What do audiences like?Learning something newJust finished watching the documentary on sky plus. Found it wellbalanced and interesting. I knew very little about his life. I thinkthat any documentary that can inform non-Muslims about boththe prophet and the Koran should be commended andapplauded. Ignorance is not bliss. (LV on The Life of Muhammad)A sense of balance or fairnessI like the fact there are no agendas, proselytising, witch hunts,setups, etc. Nice change for British TV documentaries (Woof onRevelations).
What do audiences like?Respect for beliefs/believers/culturesSo having the chance to sit and really watch a beautifully craftedprogram about Buddhist culture and iconography today, was areal joy. (AP on Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World)A sense of ‘openness’ about programme’s positionWith this guy we knew that he believed in God, the way that hebelieved in God, the sort of church he belonged to… I felt like Igot to know him through the programme (Laura on Around theWorld in 80 Faiths)
What do audiences dislike?A lack of diversityIn my experience, the BBC could not care less about the feelingsof or requests from the Hindus. They simply ignore them... TheBBC also ignores the significant Buddhist population in Britain.(Praya on BBC message boards thread ‘Does the BBC under-represent UK Hindus and Sikhs?)Perceived misrepresentation, exaggeration, ‘distortion’When or when will there be a documentary showing the 99.9% ofmuslims that are NOT extremists...Will the BBC or any othermedia channel show this? i dont think so.... (alan on My BrotherThe Islamist)
What do audiences dislike?Perceived reinforcing of stereotypesIn this program, we ‘learned’ that all Jews are smugly ignorant,elitist, isolationist, consumerist, money-obsessed, tasteless, smugand entirely lacking in fellow-feeling… in which Devotion isexpressed as Bling. All this demonstrated by a number of ghastlycharacters who entirely conform to the anti-Semetic cliches. (SSon Strictly Kosher)Programmes that are unfair to their subjectsI feel, as ive felt with a number of BBC3/C4 programmes, thattheres an element of exploitation here, which is not fair tosomeone who is only 13 and has quite obviously been totallybrainwashed (dom on Deborah 13: Servant of God)
What do audiences dislike?‘Patronising’ programmes, interviewers or presentersIve never seen a more patronising, belittling programme in mylife! (Leah on Jews)Perceived biasYou cant even expect it to be honest/impartial because any sortof portrayal of Muhammad that isnt glowingly positive could, andprobably will, attract an aggressive backlash. (San on The Life ofMuhammad)
How do audiences perceive ‘others’?As being treated differently to their own groupThe BBC only falls over backwards to please Muslims andsometimes Christians, the rest of are trampled over by them.(PaganLove on A History of Christianity)In ways that replicate/reinforce negative stereotypesBut so many of these evangelical creationists have the morals of asecond-hand car salesman in my experience... The typicalcreationist tactic of fast talking, of railroading their converts intoaccepting their belief and bombarding them with a ton ofgarbage... it wont work on national TV with an audience ofsophisticates. (RH on Sunday Morning Live)
How do audiences perceive ‘others’?With hints of racism, xenophobia & British superioritywho else thinks americans are a prime example that peopleshould be drowned at birth there is no god we dont have tobeleive in god abortions is ok and children with bibles piss of uhave a go at islamists use are the same fuck u yanks. (ab1 onCutting Edge: Baby Bible Bashers)As either ‘victims’ or ‘villains’OMFG THESE PEOPLE ARE SO FUCKING STUPID AND FUCKINGIGNORANT Christians i hate to break it to you but the Burningtimes is over move the fuck on…i hope every priest that stuck hishands down little kids pants is will be roasting in hell. leave it tothe Church to fuck up a already messed up country (AlJoseph onDispatches: Saving Africa’s Witch Children)
What else happens in these discussions?Audiences share their own experiencesAs a Born Again and Spirit Filled Christian, l still love Songs of Praisebut happily for now (as long as God allows it!?) l am no longer part ofthe established church. I do attend a wonderful happy clappyEvangelical church but, l also enjoy being part of, albeit via themedium of television the re-assurance of all of those old hymns that lgrew up with (Im 60 by the way) (Kate on Songs of Praise)Audiences debate beliefs and viewpointsI agree with you. Its all hunky dory if you follow their strict rulesand regulations ( which differ greatly in the various Amishcommunities). But if you question or step out of line, then itsinstant excommunication and complete shunning by your familyand community. (Terry on Amish: A Secret Life)
What else happens in these discussions?Audiences & programme makers/participants interactWhen you see such backlash thats when you know your wordswere powerful. I got my message out to the world. And will carryon. #4thought (Zahra Al-Alawi on 4Thought)Audiences like to joke!It was just two of us on a nice romantic date." Oh aye, apart fromthe BBC film crew holding microphones and cameras. (Ryan onStrictly Soulmates)
ConclusionSome groups feel under-representedWhilst others feel mis-representedThere is a perception of ‘unfairness’ and ‘bias’They often perceive ‘others’ as different to themselvesThey feel presenters/film-makers should be honestThey don’t like feeling patronisedBut they do like learning something newAnd feeling like a programme is intelligent and ‘fair’
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