Will finds Bafta baffling

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge adorned last night’s Bafta ceremony, he in the capacity of the British academy’s president, she as his charming wife.

“Does this look like I’m smiling, you bigots you”

I don’t know about Kate, who has mastered the essential royal art of keeping shtum, but Will, who hasn’t, wasn’t happy. His chagrin was caused by the absence of off-white winners in the directing and acting categories.

Britain, he said, has produced “incredible film-makers, actors, producers, directors and technicians, men and women from all backgrounds and ethnicities enriching our lives through film.” However, BAFTA has seen fit to ignore those incredible achievements at awards’ time.

Will just couldn’t get his head around that slap in the face of modern sensibilities. “It simply cannot be right in this day and age,” he fumed, even to be “talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process”.

He’s right about that: this should never come up in civilised conversation. If it does, people might think that Harry isn’t the only apple that didn’t fall far from the tree that was Diana.

Why does HRH think the incomprehensible need to talk about this state of affairs arose in the first place? I can see only two possibilities, even theoretical ones.

One, Bafta’s voting members are all racist bigots who have formed a conspiracy to keep deserving black aspirants out. Two, they actually voted for what they regarded as the more deserving candidates.

The first possibility really isn’t possible. Anyone who follows such matters knows that Bafta members, as a group, fit every nuance of the word ‘woke’, and then some that this polyvalent word hasn’t yet acquired.

This lot are more likely to support Hamas or Jeremy Corbyn than allow a racist thought to cross their minds. This, no matter how broadly HRH would choose to define racism. Vote for an actor just because he is black – possibly. Vote against him for the same reason – never.

That leaves only one possibility: they genuinely voted on merit, assisted in this undertaking by Britain’s demographics. It pains me, a lifelong champion of diversity, to acknowledge this, but blacks make up only 1.63 per cent of the country’s population.

Even assuming that they are proportionately represented in the film industry, which they probably aren’t for various social reasons, on purely statistical grounds they can’t be expected to dominate BAFTA awards – much as Will and I feel they should.

For one thing, such a worthy end would demand rather drastic means. Script writers would have to concentrate on producing stories that involve blacks. That’s unlikely, considering that most writers are shamefully white.

Even if they are as passionate about diversity as Will and I are, when it comes to practising their craft writers tend to write about what they know. If most of them are white middle class (I’m guessing here, but the guess rings true), those chaps would be hard-pressed to pack their plot lines with black characters.

That means fewer roles for black actors – unless of course our cinema follows the worthy if recent tradition of our theatre and begins to cast black actors in white roles, such as Hamlet or Lady Macbeth.

To wit, Sam Mendes’s 1917, which won seven prizes last night, including the one for the best film. It’s about the First World War, fought at a time when most inhabitants of these Isles were irredeemably white. Hence, to introduce even a meagre platoon of black protagonists, Mr Mendes, who is a stickler for historical accuracy, would have had to err against his artistic integrity.

So how does HRH Prince Will propose to “ensure diversity in the awards process”? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m afraid he wishes to abandon meritocracy in said process (a note to HRH: the word process is almost always redundant – “in the awards” would have been better English, unless of course proper style is discriminatory).

Hence black directors, actors and so on should be given BAFTA awards simply on the strength of their race, regardless of merit. Americans call this affirmative action, we call it reverse discrimination, but highly visible public figures in either country generally refrain from demanding it in so many words.

Reverse discrimination is these days practised much more than the old kind, but quietly. The assumption is that it’s one of those things that go without saying.

Will should really hold his polo horses, for a while at any rate. His own family has already taken a step towards racial integration (or rather half a step, for Meghan is only half-black). There’s no need to take another stride just yet, especially considering how the first one has worked out.

I’m not suggesting he douse his flaming conscience with water, but perhaps indulging it in private would do him – and, more important, our monarchy – quite some good. He has good role models to follow in his family, and I mean his grandmother and his great-grandfather. Not his mother.

4 thoughts on “Will finds Bafta baffling”

  1. Will was preaching to the choir here , but wanted the greater viewing audience to hear his “woke” scolding and know that he’s one of the “elites” we must bow to . Like his dim father and brother he’s announced to us that he’s our superior. Could we perhaps ask him what a WOC (woman of colour) has done for his family and if he wants more like her to join his clan ?

  2. “Mr Mendes, who is a stickler for historical accuracy, would have had to err against his artistic integrity.”

    They might have included some Ghurkha in the movie 1917. Ghurkha did serve on the Western Front.

    Would that have been satisfactory.

  3. Ricky Gervais had the best response to this ‘affirmative action’ nonsense when he hosted the recent Golden Globes awards:

    ‘We were going to do an in memoriam section, but the list of actors and directors who died this year wasn’t diverse enough…’

    Incidentally, Sam Mendes was inspired by the stories of his grandfather – a coloured Trinidadian who won the Military Medal as a runner in WW1. He did drop a single, Sikh soldier into a British section – which was historically inaccurate. If he wanted to make the point that 40% of the total strength of our army came from the wider British Empire, it would have been more accurate to have had the two main protagonists passing through the lines of a Sikh battalion – commanded by British officers.

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