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Bend it like Beckham - lessons in DEI

TALiNT Talk: Bending it like Beckham

The wit, warmth and wisdom of Bend it Like Beckham.

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I’m not entirely sure why but whenever I find myself on a long flight, I find my filmic tastes tend towards the light-hearted rather than the challenging. Maybe it’s not wanting to experience booms, bangs and bonking at 37,000 feet, I don’t know.

In particular I am drawn to comedies (often of the ‘rom-com’ genre but by no means always) including gems such as When Harry Met Sally, (as relevant today as 1989 and who remembers Billy Crystal as a heartthrob),  My Cousin Vinny ( a work of genius), Risky Business, (my house, my rules!) and most recently Bend it Like Beckham.

And as I watched it again, admittedly after lunch and maybe more than one glass of wine, I was still impressed by its ability to address so many themes with such wit, warmth and wisdom. In fact, and I’m really not being trite, I’m not sure I can think of another film that addresses so many delicate issues in the space of an hour and fifty minutes. Race, gender, homophobia, parental and filial relationships, body image, and frustrated ambition and I suspect some others that I missed, were all addressed head on with, I think, lessons for all of us.

Jess’s Dad’s speech towards the end about his own life lessons and his ambitions for his daughter may well have made me more than a little moist eyed. Although my guffawing at the scene about measuring busts and auntie’s comment about ‘we’ll make these mosquito bites look like juicy, juicy mangoes’, being turned into an excuse for Jess to buy football boots probably disturbed the whole plane. The whole film was just beautiful and ultimately so incredibly optimistic.

Race, gender, homophobia, parental and filial relationships, body image, and frustrated ambition and I suspect some others that I missed, were all addressed head on

And what it made me think about was this: wouldn’t it be so much nicer if our discussions about social progress and social justice could happen with a bit more humour?

It’s pretty clear that humour seems to have somehow become almost completely excluded from the discourse on these issues and yet it has a hugely important part to play in helping us tackle difficult topics. One great example that sticks with me is the ‘suicide scene’ in The Full Monty. It is one of the cleverest, most sensitive and funniest scenes ever and yet it is dealing with a man in the depths of despair.

And it works. I reckon Bend it Like Beckham did more for social cohesion, racial understanding, and definitely women’s football, than any political polemic or twitter discussion.

So, whilst I recognise that serious and complex issues need serious and complex responses, humour has an important part to play in helping us all understand different perspectives and perhaps we shouldn’t be afraid to use it more often. Which brings me rather neatly on to the keynote speaker at our Horizons event. Simon Fanshawe is an exception to the rule about using humour to tackle DE&I related subjects and we’re delighted that he’s back with us for the closing keynote at our upcoming Horizons event for HR and TA Leaders in London on 12th of March!

So we’ll be looking forward to bending it like… Simon Fanshawe!

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