Tim: [00:00:00] [00:00:00] I'm Tim Panton.
Vim: [00:00:00] And I'm Vimla Appadoo
Tim: [00:00:03] and this is the distributed future podcast.
So this episode is it kind of interesting for me because I. It's a topic. I've sort of seen but didn't know anything really about which is the Riz test which is a way of yeah evaluating media for what I suppose. You could call bias or inaccurate pre presentation of Muslims and it's a set of set of questions what I really I mean it's a fascinating area, but I think the sort of meta aspect that I thought was really interesting was that it was about.
Changing Society views just with like a very simple formula like five questions five well-honed questions are enough to at least in theory to shift the needle and I think that's that's actually really really exciting that you can do that like, [00:01:00] you know with with carefully. Positioned and designed questions and also fascinating the amount of thought that's gone into doing that.
Yes, I mean, I don't know how much you know about it.
Vim: [00:01:14] fair bit I actually bumped into Shaf a couple of weeks ago. Just walking around Manchester if you do these things happen, but it was really good to see just how well to here how quickly the rest has grown because it's easy and in a world where you're kind of bombarded with like BuzzFeed quizzes, or.
Like all of these little "did, you know" clickbait articles. It's amazing to see how something like the res test is actually grown in the Steam and this will cut has become a formula for assessing these type of things.
Tim: [00:01:50] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that's right it I suppose part of its attraction is that it is in a format that feels kind of.
Familiar on the [00:02:00] very end in the medium. I hadn't thought about that, but that's that's interesting that it's a sort of compatible with the rest of the sort of Facebook. And and as you say BuzzFeed sort of mindset and so people are sort of up for that. But but no it's a fascinating conversation like and how kind of how.
It how much effort has gone into producing something on the face of it that looks very simple, you know honing the questions and the academic background and all of that like you wouldn't see that from the outside and that's sort of the point that you wouldn't see it. But it means that it's intellectually strong and it's got Good Foundations and absolutely and I think that helps it.
Helps it survive and kind of resist um not attack. I mean, it's not that it's not that it's been attacked but kind of resist being [00:03:00] undermined by by simple flaws. I mean, it's too easy to kind of make a make a simple mistake and then undermine a project like that
Vim: [00:03:08] but it validates that invalidates the needs.
For it to happen.
Tim: [00:03:17] Right, right. Absolutely,
Vim: [00:03:19] yeah for me, it's a step up from just simply asking why it's like you can have a conversation face-to-face with someone to ask why it's happening it's interesting how the Riz test is a step on from just asking why it's not just why is this stereotype being portrayed or why is The Stereotype still existed existing?
It's talking and emphasizes the knock-on effect of doing so in a way that I think challenges the the status quo positively and it opens up a conversation in a way that we don't we're afraid to have. We're often too scared to bring these things to light.
Tim: [00:03:58] Yeah, I mean it was interesting [00:07:25] for me to do that as like, you know, somebody who is very much an outsider to that conversation and and you know, it was interesting to kind of hear the the mindset that they've got and they've managed like just the two of them managed to kind of create this question that.
That is actually taking real effect in like particularly in film but also in TV, so I think it's great.
Vim: [00:04:30] Yeah, definitely and it it it almost for me being like a young brown person it validates the. Frustration you get and sometimes you don't you don't know why so when you're watching a TV show you're watching a film and you just feel like aggravated by seeing the same type of villain or the same story line and you can't quite put your finger on it knowing that there's something like the Riz test to go to to help form why [00:08:25] you're frustrated or what's just getting your back up a bit is really empowering.
Tim: [00:05:06] Yeah, I mean I thought that was what was also interesting is the other side of it that the creators can use it as a really simple like self check like, you know, it's obviously because it's simple only five questions. It's like it. It's a simple thing and it means that they can just like kind of mentally run through the check thing.
Oh, well, okay, maybe that's maybe we've kind of when we're designing this project. We didn't quite get it right. Maybe we need to tweak it here and there and they could do that before it's too late because it's something that you can apply very simply in their head. And I think that's the kind of the charm of it is having got it down to.
You know five questions and we were I was teasing him about whether we can get it down to four you know, but this is again.
Vim: [00:05:56] Yeah, of course sweetie. We just need one is This Racist?
[00:09:25] Tim: [00:06:01] Well, except that that's yeah, you mean that's the that's the trick of this is that what's clever is that it's asking a specific question.
That isn't isn't as. Debatable as generic as what is racism. The trouble is that with that question you end up with a what is racism question which then ends up with a list of five or 20 definitions and like it becomes a much harder question to ask yourself. Whereas I think these five questions are so specific that it works, which is cool.
I think anyway, I think
Vim: [00:06:35] I was definitely just joking.
Tim: [00:06:37] Yeah, yeah, well kind of guessing. No because that easy sense. That's the core of what it's asking but but it's clever that they're they're asking a more specific question that allows you to kind of get to an answer in a better way. But anyway, and listen to the the interview I it was great.
It was really really good [00:10:25] really good to talk and it was really fun to kind of listen to a whole lot of stuff. I knew nothing about well. Less than I should lets say anyway,
Shaf: [00:07:12] my name is Chef Chaudhary. I am co-founder of the Riz test and I've known you Tim for many many years.
Just I don't actually know how we first met to be honest
Tim: [00:07:26] some event in Manchester randomly. I actually I couldn't tell you either I should have looked it up. Actually, I don't think I'd know maybe LinkedIn would tell me who we like look at did it did LinkedIn but so. The riz test what what we talking about.
What is it?
Shaf: [00:07:45] So the risk test is it's an interesting project and before I jump into it, maybe if you know a little bit more about me and my co-founder Sadia there then it would make a little bit more sense because really the Riz [00:15:12] test is the Confluence of a couple of things. It's couple of the confidence of.
A a tech product really for all intents and purposes. It's a some product from from avert from a technical perspective. But at the same time it's it's at the cross-section of tech and society and you know driving cultural change. So in a tweet or slightly more than a tweet a Riz the Riz test is a test is a five step test.
That means Sadia Habib have dr. Sadia Habib. I should say. I've devised to measure the portrayal of Muslims. In film and TV and more broadly the Arts. So that's what the Riz test is and it really the the the process behind getting to five criteria is quite quite an interesting story, but the criteria are so there's five criteria.
So if you watch a film or a TV show and if there is a character that is identifiably Muslim and identifiable Muslim [00:16:12] being an indie Yuki the operative term here because I must have can you know. Be identifiable Muslim by by ethnicity by the language that's used by buy clothes by the context that they're in or are or any number of them.
So that's the qualifying criteria and if the character if the car if the film or the TV show has a character that is identifiably Muslim. The first criteria is is the character talking about the victim of all the perpetrator of terrorism?.
Tim: [00:09:32] Right. Okay.
Shaf: [00:09:34] The second one is the character presented as irrationally angry.
The third one being is the character presented as superstitious culturally backwards or anti-modern number four being is a character presented as a threat to a western way of life and the fifth one being very focused on gender is if the characters male are they presented as misogynistic? And if the characters [00:17:12] female are they presented as a press?
Tim: [00:10:02] Have you ever had anything that passed that test,
Shaf: [00:10:06] you know, we have with it all yes, we have been to answer that question is
Tim: [00:10:12] that's really good news because I hope by the time you got to 4 I was thinking like I'm struggling to think of anything ,
Shaf: [00:10:19] but you know, it's interesting because the the test was came about many years ago.
Actually when me and Sadia your first discussed it because. By way of introduction Sadia yet. She's adopted she done a PhD in identity and belonging and she did that a Goldsmith's and she's taught in London for over 10 years an English teacher and Sadia and I met on a number we were kind of working on a couple of anti-racism events and initiatives and we kind of got talking through that became firm friends.
And my background is I'm a techie. I mean right now I am a technical program manager [00:18:12] and what my background is classic, you know, CS degree computer science degree went into fell it fell to banking for a good five and a bit years doing to be honest just doing Equity analysis and all that into a
Tim: [00:11:15] I have a whole thing about how the there's an entire generation of.
Software developers in brilliant people in the UK who fell into Banking and of like, you know, all the products that we should have produced actually went into banking all of that energy. I can think of all my course. I think you're a bunch of them who ended up. Like managing high high volume trading firewalls or whatever, right, you know instead of inventing facebook.
But anyway, like that's not the point, right? Sorry.
Shaf: [00:11:47] No, but that is that's a really really interesting point because I mean I graduated at the the at the.com. Bubble bursting that was the height of it really so when I [00:19:12] graduated it was I was 21 years old or 22. I think it did a gap year and you're full of beans really wanted to kind of come at ease and do something interesting and just like you you we are of that generation that we taught ourselves how to code way before University way before school even really and so we're with it with a that generates that to ourselves and BBC micros and that kind of stuff and.
I was just waiting to kind of just walk into this great job and they're the.com bubble burst and there was just no jobs out there or there was but then they were like, you know web developer and then, you know, you need a five plus years experience and they were paying like 15K kind of thing and it was a bit bonkers.
The Bank of New York opened in Manchester and I kind of and again clap just fell into it. So five and a bit years in banking and I went into a classy banking wall. It wasn't anything to do with tech whatsoever. But it was and then I kind of gained a role into an [00:20:12] investment accounting rule, which is a glorified term for reconciliations really.
It's reconciling fund of fund managers accounts. It's a Monday again movements in the market and what not and that's a terribly manual process. Once I thought well, I can code you know, the use Excel here and you know vba's of thing and you don't don't hate me for that. But VBA was the only tool that was available to me.
Yeah, and and but then I realized actually we can take in file files of information and we can hook into the Bloomberg API and we can do this and we can do that and really it was me being lazy really that kind of brought it to a technical solution. I thought oh, I can't be bothered doing always manual stuff.
I'm going to write something to make my day easier and I just reckon
Tim: [00:13:50] this thing the other day somebody was like one of those like Twitter things about how how to select your candidates. Like, you know, I never employ anyone lazy. I'm thinking [00:21:12] God, no lazy is exactly what I want. Like I want somebody who's too lazy to do the work.
So the write software for it like yeah perfect what I want but but no anyway,
Shaf: [00:14:09] so no you go ahead.
Tim: [00:14:11] Why don't we. How do we how do we get from Tech into social where does that crossover happen
Shaf: [00:14:17] yet? So that's the thing. So, you know fast forward microbe which in a bunch of dot-coms launch crashed and burned my own style plus, you know and a bunch of other stuff and it really came back.
I've never I never really lost that kind of, you know, every technologists out there. They look at a problem and they said well, how can we make this easy? How can we automate it how we can make it scale and that kind of stuff especially if you worked on your own product you want to start up before now Sadia and I we discussed in for many many years actually about we love the Arts love what you did with the theater big groups of us go to the theater together and watch films and that kind of stuff and we'd all enjoy watching the film but afterwards it always.
Over some food, which is standard and it would [00:22:12] always be well, that's a really great film. But only if it wasn't for that one scene that left a bitter taste in the mouth where the Muslim was a terrorist or it's bit of a gratuitous scene where there was terrorism or there's some Arabic thrown in there whatever and we kind of thought.
Well we both knew about the bechdel test which was you know, the the way that women originally it was how lesbian women were portrayed in in TV and film. And it went it kind of developed further into just women in TV and film and we thought well, what would a Muslim version of the bechdel test look like and the bechdel test is only three criteria and it's really elegant is its Brilliance is in its
Tim: [00:15:40] it is really well done actually
and the interesting thing about that is I'm pretty sure it's move the needle.
Shaf: [00:15:48] oh, yeah
Tim: [00:15:48] such a simple set of questions that you as a like a filmmaker or you know, making any kind of media you can ask yourself those questions [00:23:12] so easily and and if the answer is not coming up right like you're aware of it and I think ideally that's the genius of it and it's work like if you manage to get to that point with the Riz you think?
Shaf: [00:16:11] Well, I think we've made some well we've been a bit surprised by our own kind of.
Progress really I think because that the the ambition was always to the bechdel test beautiful three criteria. And as you said people internalize it and people think about it all the time and they can check themselves before they release something or the work on something and we really wanted to achieve that level of.
You know ubiquity in the in the in the what not. The right word is the in the industry of the ether or the in people's the kind of dinner table test type thing and we initially set out a task level. How do we. What should our criteria be and with this massive Google doc? I think we had something like a hundred criteria every every trope that we could think of and Sadia [00:24:12] being an academic thought your well we need to make this really robust and whatnot and and me being a lay person.
I thought well, we need to make this memorable people can go to cinema and and have this in their heads and so ultimately came out of these five crates criteria as other mentioned and wood and it was the working title for it was the bechdel test for Muslims. That was the way. Title
Tim: [00:17:19] right right.
Shaf: [00:17:20] It was only until about a year and a half ago.
Now when Riz Ahmed the the actor Riz Ahmed , you know of four lions and more recently of in the night of on HBO and Rogue One Star Wars Rogue one. He did a really famous speech at the House of Commons where he discussed. How representation matters really how diversity is one thing but then representation having really good representation matters Beyond just having token as the tokenism route.
And so we thought well what we boom around off that really because at the Riz test on the back of that and it was probably. Is roughly a year ago [00:25:12] you roughly a year ago to the day that last summer I was bored one evening and I thought well we've been talking about the Riz test for such a long time and as you and I know nothing really exists without a Twitter account, right?
Tim: [00:18:10] Right, right, right.
Shaf: [00:18:12] So we thought I'd give birth to Twitter account and put it out there and just then that I can feel like I've done something, you know, so then so I did it create the patrol car and put it out there followed a bunch of people and kind of, you know went to bed and the next morning maybe had about 10.
30 followers during the day, but this is great and. Monday Tuesday, Wednesday came and it was getting to a few hundred and I thought this is great and the kind of moment came when somehow Riz Ahmed heard about the test from someone or somewhere. Yeah, and and then he quote tweeted it and he said, oh never had anything named after me before.
But this is great. It's much needed. It was absolutely amazing. And that's why it was Thursday and I was with a client at the time. I was I was actually just that they're [00:26:12] writing some document. I think I'll read em API documentation and sat there and all of a sudden my phone starts going absolutely berserk.
I look down and have this millions of the notification is Street. I've never quite seen my phone do that way you have so many
Tim: [00:19:17] excellent
Shaf: [00:19:18] It's just that it's just a. Stream of notifications on my locks on a lock screen and it was I looked at the water's going I'll scroll up to the top corner where I realized what happened and and that really kind of put us on the map within a week.
And from that point. We've had media requests we've had so many people get in touch with had interviews. With with with with with I'm trying to think now it's hard to kind of think it we've had we've had articles written about us in the guardian. We've had people from The New York Times reach out towards and do an interview.
We've had the LA Times writes about us. We've been written in a Al Jazeera. We've been written in France and
Tim: [00:19:54] I was gonna say how Internationals it got like because it. It [00:27:12] definitely resonates in the UK. I was like curious to know whether it whether it would resonate like internationally. It sounds like it has that's that's great.
Shaf: [00:20:10] Yeah, and you know, the interesting thing is I mean to go back and touch about how the technology and culture kind of intersection occurred was I from the outset. I wanted this to be an A A crowdsourced approach because with the best will in the world Sadia and I are going to watch every film out there, right right and.
From the outset. I want this to be an open thing, especially, you know with the the open-source sensibilities that we've kind of developed over the years working in Tech. I wanted this to be I didn't necessarily want to own this. I wanted to create this put it out in the world and to see what happens with it and create a framework and the the response has been amazing.
We've had I'll it and this is just the the little Mark. Tech if it tool tools. You can throw out something to make something work is that the MVP was a [00:28:12] Google Docs or Google form. I just threw together with Google form which still exists is a tiny URL link to it and it's like five criteria and I people will watch a film and review it and send just just click click click some qualifying text and that's it.
And we've had probably a hundred and fifty films now that I've been reviewed run around the world. It's really
Tim: [00:21:23] do you have to moderate that
Shaf: [00:21:27] what's interesting is that to start off with? No, we wanted that to be just what do people think because five criteria to judge if something that reflects presents Muslims well, uh, poorly it's not Nuanced.
We appreciate that. It's not new. It's just five criteria. And and that that's for very good reason. That's because we want the conversation to be nuanced but we don't feel that the representation of Muslims in film and TV is nuanced just yet. So that's why a blunt instrument approach really works.
Tim: [00:21:59] Right?
Shaf: [00:21:59] So [00:29:12] we put this out and we acknowledge that we acknowledge that this is not new ones. This is not discussed, you know positionality it. Just a lot of the Corriente orientalist kind of representations of not strictly speaking Muslims. What broadly speaking broadly speaking people from the Quarry over so we get that we get all that stuff but to answer your question.
We put it out there and people for the most part of I've Been Just submitting films that are quite obviously taken all the whole taken franchise, you know, the really obvious ones like London has fallen and BBC bodyguard and all those but then we've got some quite nuanced one where we've had people submit passes and fails for the same film which has been interesting and into the moderation.
We really wanted to discuss the net far and wide and just in Sanibel. Let's get people didn't. That people would submit and luckily people did from the US UK all around Europe the Far East in the in the Middle East in India, [00:30:12] Africa everywhere, which be really wonderful and. The funny thing is we've had one big correction to make so someone from Wales actually submitted a review for a film called and I'll get this this "Tag" is called tag, and it's a bit silly Caper film of you know, a bunch of guys who play a game of tag and it it goes to an extreme and they and they keep doing it as adults and you know for hilarious consequences and wherever.
And someone reviewed the film and said it fails the Riz test and the put it through and I put it and you know again, I as reviews coming I put it out on Twitter. So I'll put this out on Twitter and as it fails and I always tag in the producers and the actors just too. Just to be not to be trollee, but just to bring it to their attention and I don't never do anything in a kind of a trolly kind of way.
It's really just to kind of highlight what we found and [00:31:12] one of the actors and I'm bound to a promise that I made to this actor that they DM'd the method the account and said actually no it doesn't fill the wrist s. And the actor said it doesn't feel the risk test and I'll show you why and the scene in question.
He sent me a link is he? They sent me a link on on to a YouTube clip of that scene and I watched that scene. I thought actually he's right. It doesn't feel the Riz. It doesn't know that it doesn't fail. It doesn't even qualify for the risk test there was and so. I thought that was extraordinary because not only was I was a film reviewed.
I put it out there on Twitter but people someone from Hollywood and at one of the leading actors in This film called tag and you can take a look at the IMDb for it. And one of the main leading actors got in touch with the saying. No, it doesn't it doesn't fail and I thought that was extremely simply because.
People are taking know people that actually know what is
Tim: [00:24:54] right, right, it will fail fast metric. I mean being wrong and being tagged for being wrong is a [00:32:12] success metric in this exactly brilliant.
Shaf: [00:25:03] Mmm. So it's been really wonderful and you know more we've been we've been asked to speak at universities because Sadia being an academic she made sure that what we do is.
Academically sound I imagine that's probably right term and it stands up to scrutiny and one of which is which is a wonderful but I don't have that skill set. Sadia brings that to the table. She's really wonderful at doing that and we've been we've done the presented workshops at at so as in London Manchester University Cardiff University we-we-we keynote.
We did the keynote at Symposium at the University of East Anglia recently. I was working at the byline conference and a bunch of different. conferences now and we've we've got a set of slide that we that we represent and we. And in the background we've been we've had a little bit of communication with Riz Ahmed and his representation.
And we waited to make sure the look, you know, we're one of [00:33:12] our concerns was either wrist is going to send us a cease and desist or he'll kill, you know, he'll indoors and I'm lucky for us. He he didn't send a cease-and-desist because. Ultimately, he doesn't know who we are. We could be a couple of nutters as right and I went over not I mean maybe
Tim: [00:26:16] it's not for you to say they're really
Shaf: [00:26:19] get to self-diagnose but he's been really supportive behind the scenes that super supportive and we're in touch with his business management and and raised recently.
There's a his agency in Allah is an organizational CAA and have no idea what it stands for but it's huge it represents some huge. Talent in Hollywood and they had a conference recently attended by all these Hollywood execs and actors and all these and Rizal was doing a where the keynote speeches there and through some quite long conversation behind the scenes.
We ended up providing a few slides for him to use at this conference. Not thinking [00:34:12] that it would be used but just to hey some supportive information. They asked us for some data and we thought well, here's some information and the next thing you know it we've got feature in there's a feature in the LA Times discussing Riz Ahmed's speech on this screen shots of him presenting the slides that I put together and you know, that was an incredible incredible moment because it was like well, You know, this is like full circle is literally the slide that the banner image in our Twitter account is the slide is presenting the slides and I again that was another one of those extraordinary moments where I thought.
You know both Sadia the end. I have jobs aside the sides over a curator at the Manchester Museum and and she's a researcher and I want and author and you know, I'm working as a program manager. And so this is something that we are dedicating our evenings and weekends too. But to how achieve that level of success.
I mean really, I don't see as many as yes, it's success but really the success one of the success metrics is [00:35:12] actual changing the industry. But in terms of our journey in terms of the the story arc to use a metaphor from the film world. This is a significant moment
Tim: [00:28:10] and and I mean. You couldn't have done that without the technology without social media.
Basically, like what you're doing is you're changing one art form by using social media to to change people's mindset. And I think that is I mean, it used to be possible with newspapers. Although you had to own it pretty much that's a work you couldn't I mean maybe pamphlets I guess pamphleteers alike.
I took so I must actually try and get them on the on this actually, but I talk to somebody about like how Twitter and social media the only historical comparison that works is pamphlets.
Shaf: [00:28:50] Yeah, yeah, that's true. Actually. Yeah because you is someone somewhere will have a pamphlet from some election campaign the 1950s in the house [00:36:12] and that's as physical record of that happening and it's a and your promises and pledges that were made and it's interesting because ultimately.
Technology in this in this context the technology of social media and having this crowd Source approach how I've been and I've been the Catalyst to was getting through a to we need to be in terms of getting into people's Consciousness and people hearing about this this this this project but none of that would happen without it being the kernel of the idea being sound and I think that's often times as techies.
We are offering Solutions looking for a problem. And you know that we often see that when we have the see startups being, you know, just just just great technology but not till practice practice no use case for it. And with the with the Riz test all we've done is we're only like, you know, we want to kind of sprinkle the little bit of Technology where appropriate to get it where it needs to be.
I'll clearly it could not have accelerated wear is now without this technology. But what I find [00:37:12] interesting is that it really needs to have that. You know to use a term that we use in turkey that I have that product Market fit to have that to have that grain of an idea that really works and then in which case technology with catalyzes the adoption of it,
Tim: [00:30:16] right?
So you're addressing a real problem and you're doing it in a crisp way that works. Yeah, and the technology then can accelerate that. But without the first two things you would have been. Like lost basically
Shaf: [00:30:31] definitely. Yeah hundred percent and I think and I think is what the tests that we've devised.
It's even though we've codified it in a you know, a set of five criteria. This is not new for lots of people who are Muslim who all I'd who get identified a Muslim because you know, we discussed, you know, it's Islamaphobia in society and lots of the people who are the victim of a Islamaphobic attacks.
Aren't just people [00:38:12] who are wear the head scarf or anything like that, but that seek people who are not Muslim but people decide densify them as Muslim and they are this the victims of islamophobia. And that's that's a strange little of bigotry and the think that's why we're very careful about the language we use in terms of identifiable the Muslim because.
In you know, there are there are there are you know hundreds of millions of Arabs that are not Muslim there are Christian or of no faith or whatever is so so just because you Arab necessarily make you a Muslim just because you're Brown doesn't deserve mean that you are of One Faith or another but.
The that's the that's the kind of the qualifying criteria. And the reason I bring that up is because the test as we've codified it is not a conversation at me and started you have created. It's a conversation that happens all the time. And what we found is we put this out there in and it was [00:39:12] five criteria people immediately.
They already know it they already identify
Tim: [00:32:07] I was gonna ask you about like whether you felt the need to iterate on it since you released it like to change the wording and if you did. How do you manage the fact that you've got reviews that for the old wording, but you wanted to change it.
Shaf: [00:32:25] Well, that's a really really interesting question. So that's so there's I split that up into two things. So there's one thing of iterating upon it and making it more nuanced. And right now we do see it evolving or along the way we do because you know the conversation as the conversation goes moves forward then we need to kind of discuss new ones and that's where I see some of the interesting.
And analytics that we can do with, you know word analysis and script and that kind of stuff. So I see it as an extension of the project was an extension of the test. On the other side of the coin is from a data [00:40:12] Integrity perspective and you know to put my geek hat on for a second. It's like you're while we've got this set of data that's are up across five criteria.
Now if we were to introduce more criteria than we've got this new this new columns in this database that we have to backfill and I think that would that's a problem that I've thought about it, but I don't see the original test expanding in numbers of criteria because it starts then coming unwieldly, and you can't.
A good number to remember right 7 or 8 or 10 start
Tim: [00:33:30] actually thinking the other way. I was wondering whether it was possible with really good kind of what the standards people called wordsmithing. Whether it is possible to like collapse two of them right together so that you've got like a more maybe a more abstract concept man.
I can't actually do it in my own. I'm not good enough to do this anyway, but I want to in my head now, but whether it's possible to kind of collapse to them into a more abstract concept that embraces [00:41:12] both of them and so you'd end up with four tests. I mean that's just a like theoretical idea that you might might happen.
But then you'd like I say you'd have liked a they like fun with the data Integrity. Like what do we do with your results?
Shaf: [00:34:11] Yeah. Well, it's a good question. It's really actually it's actually an excellent question because the the five criteria that we put together criteria one about terror with that comes under the banner of Terror criteria, two three and four come on to culture and criteria 5 comes in the gender.
So it's really three key themes that we see the terror culture and gender and the culture question comes under three criteria, irrationally angry superstitious and a threat to Western way of life. But really when we look at our results, yes with five criteria makes it you know, it feels two out of five or three out of five or one out of five whatever but what we're able to do with what what what were the data that we have is were able to see a trend.
Well if films of failed under terror so if films of failed in the culture [00:42:12] or gender in the past in the 1920s and 30s and 50s, then we see a change post 9/11 that the portrayal of Muslims that's becoming it fails, but it fails under the group of Terror. No, I know. And those three themes are really interesting to see it will putting this and I'm going to be going through the process of creating a report that we want to get us in the next few months, but I'm plotting that data across that those themes across a timeline because films pass and fail, which is one thing.
But then it's on the which theme they fail. So as you said it's five criteria, but it's really three themes and what's interesting to see is how does that theme fair over the course of the last hundred years? Hmm, and there are certain events and time in history that we plot that against that we see a spike in certain of 9/11 happens and you know in every film The the terrorist is a Muslim or identifiably Muslim or used terms is.
I was like, [00:43:12] you know groups like Crimson Jihad from True Lies and that kind of thing. And so it's interesting to see how it all kind of comes together. And it also really Maps very predictably closely with the geopolitics of the day.
Tim: [00:36:13] I mean this is you know that I would it's not Rick there's that fantastic joke in Die Hard about like he makes up the the hand screw band makes up on the fly makes up a terrorist group pretty much like, you know, yeah, and it's like because he needs one to cover for his activities just like yeah, you know.
And that and that's a that's the one of those made up names. But but it what's interesting is it was like it was addressing the the like. The nervousness of the day I can't remember it's like the the Red Army second faction or so.
Shaf: [00:36:50] Yeah, exactly. Exactly and it's interesting because it's funny. How closely Hollywood people think well, it's just a film.
It's just a film. So [00:44:12] why why you know why I get up I ruined film is why are you this snow that generation? You can't take you know anything and it's and the thing is really the Arts are so you know, it's so powerful. About how thing all the way your people or a person or per view is portrayed in society that it's super powerful and it's something that.
People walk away with these these portrayals and you know, it's funny how when you look back in time, but when we were when I was at when I was I'm a kid in the 80s. So I grew up watching Back to the Future and what not all that. I just wanted some when you when you look back at the foot that Back to the Future one and you realize it and that fails the Riz test and that's the thing all I clean your kind kind of not even leave Back to the Future alone.
It's because no don't Doc Brown. He's peanut hippie the story arc Doc Brown story. That he bought this uranium and and he was supposed to be supposed to do it for these Libyan terrorists and that's who kills Doc Brown in that car park scene. [00:45:12] And so the Libyan terrorists come around the corner in this little Minivan and it's all know the farm me off and it's like well, I'm not something you never saw as a kid as a just enjoyed Marty McFly has hoverboards and come back in time.
But when you actually see it and you realize hang on. Watching that film you suddenly realize that. Well, the libyans were the bad guys in the film that's very tied closely to what was going on at the time in the world. And then if you look up at rookie three Rocky III in the end of Rocky III the garden is of the good guys because at the time in the world you have Chinese were helping the US.
Destroy communism and the right direction moving into that because base and fast forward a number of years and you've got Charlie Wilson's War. You've got any number of films, you know, just talking about the Taliban and so it really closely follows the the the geopolitics of the time so it's not being snow flaky or not offended at
It's very much. But well, this is important to point out [00:46:12] just because. The you know film and TV are incredibly persuasive as to how you view and see people.
Tim: [00:39:07] Yeah, I mean, I I'm I think that's that representation thing. You know, you suddenly realize when you look back at that old movies you suddenly realize that this is like the whole chunk of people not in the room or or the people in the room, but they're like always cast in a certain role we used to have this running jokes.
Probably not true anymore. But like the when we were growing up we used to have this running joke. My mother was grew up. In the u.s. Till I was five and my mother would laugh at the fact that like. The villains were always always had English accents.
Shaf: [00:39:45] Yeah. Yeah.
Tim: [00:39:46] She she I mean, you know partly annoyed.
Oh, but it partly made a laughs. It's like the idea of it. But you know all of the Hollywood villains were Englishmen.
Shaf: [00:39:56] Yeah. Yeah, and you're right. You're right and you know, it's and [00:47:12] it's the bad guys du jour right? It's whichever whichever. But person fits the bill today is the bad person and you know, you know, unfortunately it carries through to real life because you know, when body B body guard came out and I you know, I always quote this to stick that BBC bodyguard.
It fail all five criteria of the Riz test within the first 12 minutes of the first episode. Yeah, so it waste no time. Right right. We've got time,
Tim: [00:40:28] but you kind of like.
You kind of knew that was like you could tell from the P pre publicity that that was go
Shaf: [00:40:37] . Absolutely you can see that from the trailer.
Yeah, the very nature of it
Tim: [00:40:40] Does the trailer fail?
Shaf: [00:40:42] Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I kind of just took us in the trailer but I probably should probably should but they said that it fails all five than first 12 minutes in the first episode and and the reason that and that is that the reason okay, that's a great start.
But then when you see that there were accounts on Twitter of people of women on public transport [00:48:12] being. Shouted at and called Nadia which is the name of the terrorists in the show. And when it carries through to real life that can also only banter through its own banter. Well when you've got someone who's you know on the train just get coming home from work or going shopping or going to the dentist or whatever and they get this kind of abuse your it's not really banter right?
It's rough and
Tim: [00:41:20] it's setting a cultural context in a way that is like totally unjust and irreversible like you're particularly when people are growing up. If they have that cultural context set it's very hard to undo it. And so they it really does matter from not just for like for the adults but for the children in the room as well, I think
Shaf: [00:41:43] you're absolutely and you know, the it's funny you bring up children because as a child you're bringing up your watch these things and and as again, We discussed Back to the Future and I didn't see I didn't you don't see the whole [00:49:12] Libyan thing as a child, but you do internalize these things that you do internalizes review that.
Arab equals bad, or people who look like me equals bad, you know, that's that's a that's a you do internalize these things and you know, you asked me very earlier on on the on the podcast that does any Phil film past and one film that I hold very dear to my heart is office space and we've all seen office space right bill lumbergh.
TPS reports and that's from back in 1990 and I'll have you seen it's him.
Tim: [00:42:30] Yeah, I'm pretty sure I have but going
Shaf: [00:42:33] yeah, it's TPS reports all about, you know, this the mundane life of three office workers who actually is kind of against a bit of a caper. It's really worth watching and they all hate the printer and you know PC load letter and all that kind of stuff and there's a character in it called Samir and he is this this is just a programmer.
And he's identified as being Muslims identify being from Saudi Arabia from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. And he's angry his [00:50:12] commute. He's angry that no one can pronounce his name. He's angry at the printer in the office and and he just angry at everyday things that anyone else will be angry at a just just just that and I thought I found that hilarious and a great portrail because he's not.
Him being a Muslim doesn't predicate any of this characteristic
Tim: [00:43:20] He's not irrationally angry is just
Shaf: [00:43:22] no no,
Tim: [00:43:22] Everybody is angry with printers.
Shaf: [00:43:24] Absolutely, you know a huh meal doesn't matter how many computer science degrees you have? You can still never fix a printer at right and we all we've all been in that scenario and and it's just and the interesting thing is.
I resonate with this clip this this this character so much because he's is an irritated guy who works and IT and I thought I'd have an irritated guy working IT, right? And I thought that was that was really compelling because you know, there's all deal cliches that you can't be what you can't see now and I think no again.
I'm you know, I didn't go into. Development computer science because I watched office space it was but it's [00:51:12] always great to see a character on screen that you identify with and when you only see negative portrayals of yourself or people who look like you or people who look like your family on screen, then there's always a bitter taste to any enjoyment of any art form.
Tim: [00:44:16] yeah, yeah, and so do you think like. Do you think this is? Is going to move the needle and do you think there are other like imagine? Yeah more generally like this sort of test the sort of question that people should be asking themselves when they're producing things like. Do you think this is a like there are only going to be two or do you think this is a generic format that actually some other things should slot into
Shaf: [00:44:45] well.
What's interesting is that there are a number of different tests out there. There's the devaney test. There's there's a test for how Latina. Characters portrayed in film and TV cuz it's all about drug dealers or you know, [00:52:12] you know gang members and whatnot. So there are a number of tests out there in the simple.
Same vein as vectors is all inspired by the bechdel test. So there are a number of different tests out there and what so it by extending the extending the test in terms of where it where it goes. I. What we want is we don't want to be shouting at this out at the sidelines saying in the you you failed you past you fail you and Ben just angry.
It's about engaging with the industry and and encouraging the industry to do better and to that end. We've had a couple of production houses in the UK who have reached out for just coffees and conversations about how they could do better in this in this space. So. And people are hearing about it.
People are starting to really, you know, internalize it and we hear about it all over the break we heard about it in the US and what someone who become a great Ally of ours is dr. Evelyn else or tiny who she's a professor at the University of. [00:53:12] California and she's she's with some seminal work in this space from an academic space and she was one of the Consultants on the new Aladdin real the real movie real action.
live movie and she wanted to call sort Consultants on that and we've become quite a close Ally of ours because we drew heavily upon her work and she can we help me send me back to send back and forth emails and we have calls and again and she says that it is being talked about in the US and she hears I want you cause whenever she.
Is about someone talking about it without her bringing it up. She said it's it brings a smile to her face because though I know them the two people from Manchester when I know them so it's we know that it's getting out there and I think. The conversation there's so much work to be done and moving the needle really starts with awareness of the size and scale of the problem.
And that's what we're we're really just scratching the surface as to what this can do that
Tim: [00:46:54] that is fantastically cool though that it always is a magic moment when you. Like I remember about [00:54:12] the first time this happened to me. I was just like totally blown away that you write a software are you do a thing and you will he walk into a room and people are using it and they don't know who you are.
Shaf: [00:47:10] Yes,
Tim: [00:47:11] it's just magic you walk in you see your software in their screen or something like that. It's that it's that sort of. It having developed a life of its own but it's
Shaf: [00:47:21] yes
Tim: [00:47:21] moment
Shaf: [00:47:22] yet it is. It's a completely I couldn't agree with you more. It's such a magical feeling because the same thing happened to us recently was when the the Bradford literature Festival they had a panel discussion but a few actors and production people and the title discussion was the Riz test and what well beyond the Riz test.
It was called and I thought they didn't speak to it eventually they. Eventually invite us along with our meeting go for a number of different reasons, but. The fact that they organize this panel and this panel discussion without us being there and you know, I've got no problem with that if people going to [00:55:12] be talking about this project because because it is own identity in its own entity that and you're right that's magic pure magic.
Tim: [00:48:08] It really is it really is it well listen, brilliant? I think that's it. That's a really nice place to finish it. Thanks so much for your time. That's that's great.
Shaf: [00:48:18] So I've really really enjoyed it Tim I've really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for joining me for
Tim: [00:48:21] it's brilliant and thanks so much.