Friday, January 07, 2005

Mediawatch and offensive material

I read, on that nice Mr Gaiman's website, about the thousands of complaints that the BBC has received over tomorrow night's screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera. My immediate reaction was, how can 20,000 people complain about a program which hasn't been aired yet? Once I had recovered from this bout of disbelief, I discovered the existence of the pressure group Mediawatch, and my mind nearly exploded.

Now I have a number of issues with these people. Starting at the top, how can an organisation which claims to provide research on offence issues in the media, have what is probably the most visually offence website I've ever seen. Blue, red, yellow, it looks like a three year old's finger painting of a website. And why would you go to all of the effort of putting a warning, in tasteful black on yellow no less, on your website saying If you cannot access any menu option above check your address bar. All slashes should be forward facing: / not \, rather than just changing your bloody links so that they use the correct slashes. It's not rocket science, it's just common courtesy.

After much searching through their strangely, read poorly, structured website I finally came across their page about the BBC's showing of Jerry Springer - The Opera. It makes priceless reading, John C Beyer truly is a caricature of himself. I didn't think that people like him still existed in Britain in the 21st century. I guess I was wrong. I mean how far up your own arse do you have to be to start a letter, complaining about an expletive filled TV programme, with praise of the BBC's coverage of the Asian tsunami. It beggars belief how this man's mind works. How will the showing of this programme, beyond doubt, cause very considerable offence to licence-fee payers? Why would you watch an expletive filled programme, if you are the kind of person who gets offended by expletive filled programmes?

Towards the end the letter takes a turn for the surreal when John discovers bold type: If it is your belief that such an objectionable production is appropriate for showing on BBC2 then I believe you should issue a public statement to that effect on behalf of all of the Governors. Surely the fact that they are showing the programme on BBC2, is really the most definite statement that the believe it is appropriate to show such a programme on BBC2.

At the bottom of the page there are a couple of lines I particularly like from the original Daily Mail, where else could a story like this live, article. It contains 3,168 mentions of the f-word and 297 of the c-word — recognised as the most offensive word to viewers. and Research shows such bad language does alienate viewers. I guess they missed people like me when they were doing their research into whether or not bad language alienates viewers.

Oh, in other news I did, as predicted yesterday, end up in the bar last night. Fortunately, I did not repeat my heroic drinking efforts of Wednesday night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having awarded them an award for "worst-run webserver ever" for both ballsing up their Microsoftesque backslashes in their hyperlinks, and then not configuring their webserver so that it would just do the right thing the way every other bloody webserver on the planet does, I followed Mediawatch-uk's "Swearing on TV" link, hoping so see some good examples of that particular art form.

Sadly, what I got was a collection of mostly poorly-written snippets from newspapers. I was rather disappointed. It would, perhaps, make Mr Beyer's argument a little stronger if he had a more structured and coherent complaint than "there's more swearing on TV and I don't like swearing".