Spent an hour or so reading a column by Hugh Muir, over at The Guardian, the other afternoon while waiting for mail. He has, and eloquently, written a series of articles on the topic of «Hideously Diverse Britain» — and worth a read it is indeed. It is actually so well written that I, who am among my English–speaking friends considered something of an expert (or so near a Norwegian can come), once again realised that there are quite a few steps still to go before I can do something as patently silly as believe myself capable of prose.
But I digress.
One of these articles were on the topic of Jewish hip–hop, and had tacked on a comment from the peanut gallery which read thus in part:
«Has there been a film or television series that anyone can think of that featured a Jewish character or played by a Jewish actor?»
I found myself asking myself — and not actually expecting a sensible answer — this. And came up empty. Then I repeated it, but replaced ‹Jewish› with ‹Christian› , ‹Muslim› , ‹Gay› , ‹Conservative› and ‹Labour› . Strangely enough I still came up empty.
The answer, I suspect, is one of uncaring: as long as the actor does his, or her, job well, why should I give a damn what his religion, or even ethnicity, is? Telling us he is jewish is like saying he is gay, or conservative, or scientologist (ok, I’ll give you that one).
It just doesn’t matter.
And yes. I can see the indignation light up: we need MORE, and more visible, positive role models for young [jews/muslims/christians/insert favourite here]. Yes, we do.
We need more jews to state that «One should celebrate democracy!» (do, please, add a « … and not take elected representative’s rights away for being in disagreement with us»). We need more muslims to state that «Violence solves nothing!» (do, please, add a « … and violence because an imam tells you to isn’t an excuse»). We need more christians to repeat «tho shalt not kill» (do, please, add a « … no, gays are not an exception to the commandments»).
But do we really need to know anything about an actor save that he is a damned good actor? Do we really need to label an actor any more than we need to label a police–officer, a doctor, a teacher, or a lollipop–lady? They are all humans. What they believe in can’t be that important to us, can it?
It might just be me. What deity my doctor believe in is no concern of mine. What party the actor on my screen vote for is none of my business. Who the attendant at the gas–station is in love with … sorry, mate. I don’t care. I really, really, really don’t care.
Why would I?
«They might treat you differently!» — I hear the vaguely–red mumble under their pink–power umbrellas.
Y’know what? That’s a different topic. The devout muslim man I worked alongside some years ago didn’t bat an eyelid at the picture of my girlfriend. The christian, and I venture somewhat less devout, fellow who happily took my free advice on web–building had no qualms loudly declaring later that he’d not trust me with his kids because I was one of those lesbians.
Arseholes remain arseholes no matter what colour, creed, religion, ethnicity or language. Nor are they clever.
And civilised people, regardless, know that they don’t have to like their neighbour, but it’s a small planet after all — living alongside each–other is, when it comes down to it, the only choice we got. So we learn to ignore what we don’t like, smile diplomatically, and use an air freshener to take the stench of surströmming out of the air.
Call it naive if you will. I’m the one who don’t care :)