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Lack of diversity in video questioned

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Dec. 14, 2017) A new tourism video for the Town of Berlin, created by Good Clean Fun Life, has set records on social media by earning more than 25,000 views and 435 shares.

Running just under two and a half minutes, the video sweeps across Main Street, showing off gorgeous aerial views and panning across landmarks like the Atlantic Hotel and Globe theater. It highlights bicycling brewers, smiling shopkeepers and participants in town events like the Bathtub Races.

It is, however, missing something — only one African-American is featured prominently in the dozens of shots shown.

Berlin Councilman Dean Burrell brought up that issue at the Monday Town Council meeting, stopping an otherwise upbeat conversation on the video dead in its tracks.

“The only concern I got about the video was that a citizen stated to me that they wished there were more people of color,” Burrell said.

Resident Greg Purnell, reached for comment Monday night, agreed.

“You gotta know how many people of importance saw it before it went out. Double that many didn’t see anything wrong with it,” he said. “Somebody other than Councilman Burrell noticed it also, yet until he spoke up, nobody would stand up and say, ‘Wait a minute, this is Berlin 2017, not 1967, nor 1917.’

“The only thing that good intentions gone bad needs to go on is for good people to sit or stand around doing and saying nothing,” Purnell added. “That’s what happened there. A video of that type should recruit townspeople to be filmed, period.”

Purnell went as far as to say the lone representation smacked of “tokenism.”

“When there are two African-American councilmen and a chief of police who are not truly represented, that tells a tale of an ugly undercurrent in beautiful Berlin,” he said.

Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells, who commissioned the video, emailed a statement on Tuesday.

She had introduced the video during the meeting by saying, “we’ve been working on this for about the last eight months, the new promo video for the town.”

“This video was specifically designed to be entered for the Great American Main Street Award and could only be filmed in the confines of our Main Street designation. It was meant to showcase our downtown businesses and events,” she said in the statement. “We kept it as authentic as possible. The scenes were not staged.

“There will be other videos showcasing all of the Town coming soon,” Wells added.

Town Administrator Laura Allen emailed a similar statement, Tuesday.

“The video was prepared for the Great American Main Street Award. The focus is on Main Street, the shops and activities we have downtown,” Allen said. “The video was not intended to be representative of the entire community. This is one of many ways we market the Town. We’re working on a town wide promotional video for next year which will represent all aspects of our cool town.”

Representatives from Good Clean Fun Life did not respond to requests for comment.