Thursday, 7 June 2012

ITV's Lewis and racism in post-race society

click to go to the Lewis page on the ITV website

The ITV series Lewis deserves its place as a Great British institution. Originally a spin-off of Inspector Morse, inspired by Colin Dexter’s novels and starring John Thaw, Lewis follows the cases of the Inspector who was a Detective Sergeant in the Morse programmes.

The current series finale, The Indelible Stain, followed the Dexter M.O. of a nuanced web of mystery and tangled human lives proceeding from an ostensibly simple start. So much so that the episode’s theme was easy to miss: race or, more precisely, what racism means in post-racial society.

We see a speech by a controversial American criminologist interrupted by a baying mob of anti-racists who, we learn, are "all white, of course". The head anti-racist is an upper-middle-class woman living in a palatial villa who, I imagine, would have no idea of life on a multi-ethnic housing estate. A black girl receives abusive text-messages which turn out to be from a love rival who resents not her race but her beauty.

I don’t want to spoil things for my fellow crime-fiction buffs. All I can say is that issues of race, which appear to have been at the start at the heart of the investigation, peter away and show race itself to be the chimera that it is.

The social comment I felt The Indelible Stain made was that if we want a society that has deconstructed the notion of race, we must also stop holding onto that of racism. The further implication would be that the minority of people who would have their peers cling to notions of victimhood as to a lifebelt, and tar the majority with the prejudices of a bigoted rump, need to realise that the past is history and they stand where we all do: shoulder to shoulder, facing the coming storm.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Click to go to the Lewis page on the ITV website
Check out Lewis on Amazon!

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