The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is known for its high standards and usually flawless programming. However, a new controversy has sullied the reputation of UK's public broadcaster among some sections. A sketch on a comedy show spoofing a popular Jamaican TV program has been deemed racist by many, including Jamaica's Foreign Minister.

The show is called 'Famalam' and is aired on BBC 3. In its new season, it features a segment making fun of 'Jamaican Countdown' – a popular game show in the Caribbean nation. However, this particular sketch is steeped in stereotypes about the culture of the country. To begin with, a contestant is shown smoking a recreational drug and looking absent-minded.

BBC Sketch
Screengrab from BBC show Famalam Twitter/BBC

Other people on the show are always on the verge of breaking into a song and some of them have dreadlocks. One male contestant is ogling the show's co-hosts and the segment ends with everyone breaking into a dance full of sexual overtones. To make things worse, the silhouette of a man is shown in the background who, at one stage, lets out his penis which is massive in size.

Jamaica's reputation

This fits in with the stereotype about Jamaicans. The culture of Bob Marley's country is seen as full of smoking narcotics, reggae music, with lack of sexual mores. The idea of black men from the West African stock having very large penises also finds its way in the spoof.

As expected, there was criticism of the whole segment and a person as highly placed as Jamaica's Foreign Minister accused the corporation of being racist.

"This is outrageous and offensive to the incredible country which I am proud to represent along with every Jamaican at home and within our Diaspora. I will immediately be writing formally on this!" Kamina Johnson-Smith, Foreign Minister of Jamaica tweeted.

But BBC has decided to dig its heels in and defend the whole segment and the portrayal of Jamaica's culture. An official of the broadcaster stated: "It's not malicious humor and I think if you followed on social (media), the creators said they're poking fun at all stereotypes... The minister has the right to make the complaint; I think they made the comments before the whole series had been released but we stand by the creators' brand of humor."

The stance of BBC in this controversy is diametrically-opposed to that in other cases of politically-incorrect humor or even cases of stereotyping. Due to the 'woke culture' that has come into favor lately, the public-owned corporation has removed several 'offensive' segments from its past programming and has also apologized for some, even those which would have seemed normal then.

Surprisingly, they have decided to fight it out in this case despite the ultra-sensitivity that has gripped the western world in the wake of 'Black Lives Matter' campaign.