Friday, 22 June 2012

On The Offensive

'A new comedy for E4 is looking for Oriental women to play workers in a sweatshop. Payment details: expenses only.'

I don't even know where to start with this casting. Sometimes a casting is offensive because it only asks for 'hot' women who look sexy in a skimpy bikini. Sometimes I complain because the casting asks for a lot of gratuitous nudity. And then there's my favourite complaint when they don't offer to pay. But none of them come even close to the one above. Oh believe me, plenty have tried. But oh how they fail...

I've got to the point where I'm fairly sure that I've seen it all with castings. I've seen rude ones, offensive ones and downright confusing ones. It's enough to make a lazy actress feel like she's living in a Dr Seuss book. But then there are ones that suddenly appear and tick all the wrong boxes. And this one is a prime example. I had to read it a fair few times to make sure that I was actually reading it correctly. Surely no one would be this stupid. Surely this wasn't the work of a mainstream channel?

Now, regular readers of my blog will know that we are no longer to be surprised when well-known channels and production companies don't offer actors money. This has become as regular as John Barrowman turning up where he's not wanted. A new culture has entered the acting world where companies that seemingly make lots of money try and get away with not paying their performers. And while a lot of us don't do it, they know a lot of performers will apply because they'd like the exposure. So while these companies can get away with posting these adverts, they'll continue to do so and our profession gets ground into the ground even further. It's only when the companies get pulled up on these farcical adverts that they backtrack and either say it was posted by mistake or that instead they'll get friends and family to be involved instead. I could (and I do) complain forever about how insulting it is but instead of me repeating myseld yet again, I suggest you take a look at the most popular posts down the right-hand side of my blog to see my full thoughts on the matter.

But back to the casting in my very angry hand. The main issue with this casting is just how offensive it is. Firstly, the term 'oriental.' It's old and antiquated and entirely unecessary in a casting. I know the political correctness tightrope is one that many tread with difficulty and I realise that sometimes people can worry too much but surely there's a limit? And while I admit it could be a lot worse, it's a term that definitely jars. And then there's the stomach-punching offensive irony. Did no one look at the casting and think just how ridiculous it is to ask for actors to play roles in a sweatshop and then not offer to pay them? I mean, I can be slow on the uptake sometimes (I'm a pro at the confused 'I don't really know what you're asking me to do' face in auditions) but wasn't this one blindingly obvious? Oh, and then there's the idea of setting a comedy in a sweatshop. Comedy is a wonderful thing and can miraculously turn a subject on its head. But on E4? A channel that thinks Made in Chelsea and Desperate Scousewives are acceptable? Yeah. I'd bet everything I hold dear and the world's supply of Salt & Vinegar McCoys on it being deeply offensive and so un-funny that it'll snap your funny bone in half.

Each time I see one of these castings I think it'll be the last one. I thought the advert for a film that wanted to tackle the exploitation of women which was looking for actresses to work for nothing was the final straw. But no. And I'm sure another channel is already drafting up another casting that'll make us want to smash our televisions with our very souls. And have no fear, I'll be ready and waiting for it.


  1. What website did this casting appear on?

  2. This particular casting appeared on StarNow.