Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Chaser and right-wing censorship

"The Chaser's War on Everything" is a satirical TV show in Australia. (The Chaser itself was a satirical newspaper - the nearest US equivalent I can think of would be The Onion). The Chaser's TV show (which is on ABC-TV - owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a public-owned broadcaster) has been through various incarnations, but relies mainly on satirical sketch comedy and various other bits.

The Chaser boys regularly go over the top - some of their skits can be challenging to watch. And they don't always hit the mark - sometimes they're just not funny. None of that matters, except to their ratings.

They regularly offend the right wing, and talk radio goes completely berserk - the last time they went off quite this much was when they did a less-than-kind (but not completely inaccurate) song about people who had died. This time it was for a thing they did about the Make-a-wish foundation (a charity for sick children) - so you can imagine the furore from the "won't someone think of the children!" brigade. In both the earlier case and the current one, I actually watched the piece that caused all the fuss when it went to air - and in both cases the reaction was so over the top as to be pathetic.

Look, it's simple. If you find these guys offensive, don't bloody watch them, okay?

If they break the law - well, that's what police are for. If they break guidelines for broadcast material, there are regulations and penalties in place there too. If they contravene ABC's own internal procedures, there are penalties there as well. None of that happened. There may be a question of whether the internal review was sufficient, but that's an internal matter for the ABC. To take them off the air for two weeks to pacify the right wing - when they followed ABC procedure (the piece was reviewed and approved) - was ludicrous.

The weird thing is, it was relatively speaking, the cases that the right wing decide to go nuts over are not extreme compared to other stuff that they do. It's generally no worse in offense terms than South Park or Drawn Together (except it's live, rather than animated).

Occasionally, *I* find something they've done offensive. That's not bad, it's valuable. We need our comfortable middle-class existence shaken up a bit. Nobody and nothing should be above ridicule, and it can be very valuable to step back from yourself and try to examine why you find something offensive.

If a parent of a dying child watched the piece and was offended (and I can certaonly imagine some would), *that* parent has every right to take it up with the ABC. But all the people screaming about the possibility that someone might be offended? You offend me. Get a fucking life.

The ABC is moving to curtail the way satirical programming is reviewed - which means less satire. That's a terrible loss to our society.

You have a right to find things offensive. There is, however, no right to never be offended - and there should not be.

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