Diversity’s Black Lives Matter routine won’t face investigation, watchdog says

Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on Britain’s Got Talent will not face investigation from media regulator Ofcom.

The four-minute routine sparked around 24,500 complaints from members of the public since it aired on ITV on 5 September.

The watchdog say the subject of the complaints included concern that the themes of violence and racism were inappropriate for family viewing, that it expressed support for the political organisation Black Lives Matter, that it encouraged violence against the police and that it was racist towards white people.

However, following thorough assessment they concluded the dance did not raise issues which warranted investigation under its broadcasting rules.

Image: The routine led to over 24,000 complaints. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames

Part of the routine showed a dancer portraying a white police officer kneeling on the chest of Ashley Banjo, echoing the killing of George Floyd in the US earlier this year. The dance troupe also took a knee against racism and police brutality.

The report found that “the performance contained no content which was racist, unsuitably violent or otherwise inappropriate in the context of this programme”.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “We carefully considered a large number of complaints about this artistic routine, an area where freedom of expression is particularly important.

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“Diversity’s performance referred to challenging and potentially controversial subjects, and in our view, its central message was a call for social cohesion and unity.

“Any depictions of violence by the performers were highly stylised and symbolic of recent global events, and there was no explicit reference to any particular political organisation – but rather a message that the lives of black people matter.”

Diversity performing on Britain's Got Talent. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames
Image: Ofcom say the performance did not break broadcasting rules. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames

Ofcom say they have also received a number of messages of support and praise for the routine.

The first half of Diversity’s performance was set to spoken word poem The Great Realisation by British Poet Tomfoolery, which reflects on the coronavirus lockdown.

The poem, which takes the form of a bedtime story about the Coronavirus pandemic being told to a child in the future, went viral on YouTube earlier this year.

Diversity performing on Britain's Got Talent. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames
Image: Diversity performing on Britain’s Got Talent. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames

Narration then continued: “But while we all were hidden, under orders of the prime minister, people dusted off their instincts and noticed something more sinister.

“Another disease, deep rooted in our system, fear, hate and ignorance, but racism was the symptom.”

Banjo lay on the floor while the police officer handcuffed him, and other dancers crowded around with smartphones.

“What we thought we knew, some clearly didn’t,” the narration went on. “Black Lives Matter.”

Diversity then all took a knee before the song Black Lives Matter by Dax, featuring the lyrics “I can’t breathe” – the last words uttered by Mr Floyd.

Diversity on Britain's Got Talent. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames
Image: Lyrics included George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe’. Pic: ITV/ Syco/ Thames

ITV has stood by the performance, calling it “an authentic, heartfelt response to many of the issues and events which have affected society in 2020.”

Lead dancer Banjo said he has received “thousands of messages of hate an ignorance” as well as “thousands of messages of love and support” on social media since the performance.

Diversity won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, and Banjo is currently standing in for Simon Cowell as a guest judge after he broke his back in an electric bike accident.

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Source : Sky News