NOTE: So I’m a little embarrassed. The other day I posted this article with the sole intention of highlighting an issue that has bothered me about the UK film industry for a while. Namely, the way that certain film genres and indeed issues in the industry, namely bullying, are often ignored by the mainstream media. You can see the full, unedited* article below. I understood that it was a tricky issue, particularly as I highlighted some accusations (important word there) that Adam Deacon had made against Noel Clarke. I want to repeat, just so it’s crystal clear, that I do not know either of them, and have no idea what happened. I feel sad that Adam has been ignored, and that he clearly feels, rightly or wrongly, upset and angry by whatever it is that has happened. But what is also making me feel sad is the way that this article as been used as some sort of leverage to attack Noel Clarke. Adam Deacon is talented, good-looking actor with lots of fans who are young and impressionable and feel that it is OK to be abusive and offensive towards Clarke, with absolutely no context or understanding of what has happened. Not only is this not very clever or very nice, it is also BULLYING. To those of you who are older and should know better, please make sure you understand the content of this article before reposting it, I am happy to clarify it for you. The reason I have not deleted this article is because I still firmly believe in the issue I have raised. Many of you may scoff when I say that I loved Kidulthood, Adulthood, Green Street, The Business and the Football Factory and basically anything with Danny Dyer, and as long as there is scoffing going on, I will believe that I am right in what I’ve highlighted below.
*The only change that I have made is that I have changed the photo of the piece, which was originally of Deacon but is now of the both of them. Let’s hope they sort it out kids.
Strolling through Twitter a few weeks back, I stumbled across Adam Deacon’s Twitter feed. He seemed pretty irate at the time, apologising to his followers about a supposed outburst he’d had regarding a matter that he promised to clarify. Then today, I read on Deacon’s Instagram that he’d been having trouble with director Noel Clarke. You can read what he said here, but to summarise, Deacon alleges without too much detail that Clarke has been trying to sabotage his career, referring to ‘psychopathic bullying’ that has been used to create a divide between not only Deacon, but numerous other people in his area of the British film industry.
Before I go on, I have to admit that I’ve not always been a champion of Deacon’s work. I watched Anuvahood with my then boyfriend, and was less than complimentary about the things I said. I was a fucking snob in my reaction to him winning the BAFTA Rising Star Award too, so maybe this is an atonement of sorts.
The issue that Deacon is raising is not unusual. Bullying happens in all areas of the film industry. It’s a tough sector to work in, the pay gap between the top and bottom is overwhelming. Ego’s fly about everywhere, people are stressed and overworked. Nearly all of us, particularly those in this industry can think of a boss or a senior colleague that have made us feel upset, nervous or just completely worthless. But Deacon is in a situation where he doesn’t have a PR breathing down his neck telling him what he can and can’t say, and he also doesn’t have anyone to go to that can help mediate the issue. And so he’spoken out.
Of course, I don’t know Adam Deacon or Noel Clarke. For all I know, Deacon could be lying through his back teeth, but actually, that’s not the issue here. Deacon aired his concerns 3 days ago. I only saw it because I have weird obsession with Fire in the Booth and similar channels, and Deacon did his bit recently for 1Xtra (if you like that kind of thing, or have no idea what I’m talking about, there’s an example here.) It seems to me, bizarre that such in important issue is going unreported. Whether or not you like Deacon’s work, the first thing that is undeniable is that he is someone who takes the industry incredible seriously. Deacon is from Hackney, East London. Anuvahood was his passion project. He co-wrote, directed and starred in it and got it in the cinemas and he’s nearly always been in work. And as a white, relatively privileged white woman living in Hackney, casual observation tells me that it’s a pretty hard place to climb out of if you were born here, which makes what he’s achieved all the more impressive. But one can’t help but wonder if this is part of the issue. To be fair to Clarke at this point, his films have also strived to represent the stories of those who, like Deacon, don’t always have a voice or a platform to speak out. But like those straight-to-DVD gangster films (again, a deep passion of mine), there seems to be an overwhelming snobbery to address them as anything other than hatchet-fodder at best; at worst, they are largely ignored. I’m not asking anyone to like those sorts of films, but it’s impossible to deny that the characters and stories being told are representative of real communities in the UK. Loach obviously does it best, Ill Manors and My Brother The Devil are also examples of films that are at least critically acclaimed, but they all are a valid part of our industry, and Deacon’s concerns, whether true or false, are valid too.
I can’t say whether there’s going to be a tectonic shift due to Deacon speaking out, but what is clear is that he shouldn’t be ignored. He has a large fan base, and has undoubtedly received support from the lads who think that his films are ‘well sick’, and the girls who think he is ‘well fit’, but the support should be coming from the industry that he is part of and has contributed to as well. I’ve no doubt that someone with his passion and enthusiasm will be OK, but what would be awful is if, like his Instagram post suggests, people like him get sidelined by bullies and snobs. Nobody wants a film industry saturated with one or two points of view, we should be striving for an industry that is representative of the all the cultures and communities around us, isn’t that the best thing about the UK anyway?