The BBC Should Listen to Seinfeld and Ignore Gender Quotas
You may recall that just last week, comedy veteran Jerry Seinfeld told a BuzzFeed Brews interview that he didn't care about ticking politically correct boxes for his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
I like the series, and I actually did notice that Seinfeld had predominantly white men featuring – but I didn't care. I know enough about Seinfeld's pedigree to know that he was simply going after whatever talent was readily available.
When asked about the gender diversity in his show, Seinfeld replied, "People think it's the census or something? This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that... to me it's anti-comedy. It's more about PC-nonsense than 'Are you making us laugh?' or not?"
However, someone at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) obviously missed the entire interview and resulting bajillion articles that were swimming around the web shortly afterwards. How else could one explain the fact that the BBC is now pledging to enforce gender diversity on its panel discussion shows?
Programs include Mock The Week, a satirical news discussion show, QI, a quiz show about counterintuitive answers to seemingly obvious questions, and Have I Got News For You, a UK-political staple.
So no more will there just happen to be all men on the panel, because those were the comedians and celebrities available or relevant for that week. In the same regard, I guess there could never be an all female panel, either (good luck challenging that one, though).
Instead, Danny Cohen, the head of BBC Television, has stated, "We're not going to have any more panel shows with no women on them. It's not acceptable."
Following Cohen's logic, presumably he'll shortly be enforcing one member of the panel to be transgender, one to be gay, one to be lesbian, one to be Pakistani, one to be black... oh, we've run out of space on the panel you say? Bugger it. Cancel the show. It's unacceptable!
The ludicrous move is also likely to end up costing the BBC license-fee-payer (i.e. anyone who owns a television in Britain) more money in the long run. I can imagine the conversation in the producer's office now:
Intern: "Er... no one seems to be available for the taping on Friday."
Producer: "What, no one at all?!"
Intern: "Well, no one with, you know... *makes boobies gesture*."
Producer: "Well, offer more money. Maybe we can pay for their cab too? Train fare? Flight? Do what you have to do. If we have another cock and balls on the show, we could get cancelled!"
The BBC would do well to take a leaf out of Jerry Seinfeld's book. No, I don't mean painting make-up over Jason Alexander and forcing him into a hastily cobbled together Seinfeld-esque script (although that would probably get more viewers than a lot of BBC shows).
No, instead, the Beeb would be better off focusing on what exactly is funny, or entertaining, rather than what sort of genitalia their panellists happen to have dangling (or not) between their legs.