Hackney Banned Filming of British Version of the Wire . . . Because It Stigmatised Black Gangs

Daily Mail (London), October 23, 2011

A council banned filming of a television drama about drug crime and gangs on an east London housing estate–because it stigmatised black people.

Hackney town hall chiefs refused permission for Top Boy–billed as the British version of the U.S hit show The Wire–to be filmed of any of its estates.

The cast of the four-part Channel 4 series is almost entirely black with many roles played by first-time teenage actors.

Hackney mayor Jules Pipe vetoed filming after the council considered if the series would have a ‘detrimental’ effect on the area’s reputation.

He said: ‘Estates aren’t film sets–they are people’s homes.

‘In this case, it was not fair on residents . . . having their neighbourhood stigmatised on national television as riddled with drugs and gangs.’

Top Boy, written by Northern Irish novelist and screenwriter Ronan Bennett, will be shown over four nights later this month.

It tells the story of 13-year-old Ra’Nell, played by Malcolm Kamulete, who has to look after himself when his single mother is sent to a mental hospital.

Ra’Nell tends a hydroponic marijuana farm in a council flat for his white neighbour before local criminals Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his friend Sully (Kane Robinson) start muscling into the area.

Dushane wants to be ‘top boy’–to control the estate’s lucrative drugs market–at whatever price, including killing rivals.

Toyin Agbetu, whose organisation Ligali campaigns against negative stereotypes of black people, told the Independent On Sunday: ‘You don’t have to always portray the African community as drug-dealing, gun-toting criminals.

‘This isn’t the time to be going backwards and focusing on these stereotypes. We don’t need to perpetuate more reasons for civil unrest; there are many great stories that don’t need to focus on the boy in the hood.’

Bennett has lived in Hackney for 25 years and was inspired to write the series when he saw a child dealing drugs near his home.

He did exhaustive research for two years interviewing many young people and adopting their language like ‘food’ for drugs, ‘feds’ (police) and ‘foot soldiers’ (drugs dealers on the street) for his series.

Director, Yann Demange, defended the drama. ‘Whether one likes it or not, we’re shining a light on a particular part of London and it is truthful,’ he said.

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  • Question Diversity

    On related things, if you have Netflix and subscribe to their instant viewing, there is a fairly good 2006 British movie called “Kidulthood” that you should see. It’s mostly about the black “hustle culture,” but to be PC, they put some Middle Easterns and lower class whites in as well. The movie idiotically ends with a carload of whites shooting up a party, convincing the lead black character to go straight.

    Incidentally, this lead black character has a leading role in the NBC sitcom “Harry’s Law.”

  • Madison Grant

    “You don’t have to always portray the African communuity as drug-dealing, gun-toting criminals.”

    Correct. Some of them tote knives and not guns.

  • Anonymous

    I know from TV that almost all criminals of all sorts are white, and that we need black heroes to get them.

  • Anonymous

    When fictional blacks are portrayed in cinema as scientists, judges, doctors, lawyers, and police commanders, there are no protests.

  • white is right, black is whack

    “You don’t have to always portray the African communuity as drug-dealing, gun-toting criminals.”

    Yes, we can’t portray the majority of blacks for what they are, can we?

  • NBJ

    They sure don’t have any such problems here in the states when it comes to always making the White guy out to be the racist, drug dealing, bad guy. If anyone has seen shows like Law & Order or any of the CSI series, their storylines are just plain ridiculous, and so far from reality it’s insulting. I’m just waiting on a made for TV movie about the recent “flashmobs” with the attackers being White of course, beating on poor, helpless blacks. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

  • Jesse

    #2 – Madison Grant

    “You don’t have to always portray the African communuity as drug-dealing, gun-toting criminals.”

    Correct. Some of them tote knives and not guns.

    —-

    And not all deal drugs, some are just users.

  • Feric Bergeron

    In England we have just had an anti-racist multi-culural “celebration” of the mythical “Battle of Cable Street” when the British Union, led by Oswald Mosley, attempted to hold an anniversary procession through London, some streets of which were barricaded by Jewish Communists who attacked the police but never (contrary to myth) engaged in direct battle with the fascist marchers. I mention this as an illustration of how prejudice blinds left-liberals to the evidence of their own senses, because there were just a few mob attacks on individuals separated from the main column of Mosleyite marchers. In one newsreel you can see a huge mob surrounding and attacking a fascist (an ex-boxing champion, luckily) called Moran in his blackshirt uniform. When shown on BBC TV years later the respected commentator Richard Dimbleby described this scene as “Here we see Mosley’s followers beating up Jews in the East End of London” – the exact opposite of the visible truth. A classic case of (self)deception.

    Mosley consistently opposed alien mass immigration and permanent non-European settlement in Britain before and after the war, and said it all, before Churchill (privately) in the mid-1950s and Enoch Powell (publicly) decades later.

  • ATBOTL

    People keep talking about the “Islamification” of Europe, but from what I see, London and Paris are being Africanized more than Islamized.