There is a television show called X-Rated: The TV They Tried To Ban on at the moment. Normally stuff like this is actually just an excuse to show the outrageous stuff on TV again. This time, there is a higher element of discussion, and I’ve got some non-news for you.
Those doing the complaining about the ‘outrageous’ stuff on TV are mostly middle-class white men who are also utter hypocrites.
Because when I see someone from ‘Mediawatch UK’ telling me that ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ are wrong, I tend to think less of them when they then turn around and say that they have no problem with the ‘comedy’ shows from the 70s using those lovely words like ‘paki’ and ‘wog’. When they say that gay sex on TV will warp our minds and tear apart the fabric of society, I will think less of them when they then say that they think The Black And White Minstrel Show was great entertainment.
There is a word for this, and it is hypocrisy. I am all for personal choice. I am all for protecting ‘the children’ (although whose children it’s never made clear). I am all for maybe not showing people masturbating with graters on TV (the only clip tonight that made me really cringe) or the American dude talking about his love for his pony…. but my opinion here is more based on the fact that most of this shit is shown for ratings and simply to be controversial. I don’t think we learn anything from it, so I don’t watch that stuff.
And dude, if you’re willing to watch Tipping The Velvet (about lesbians in Victorian England) then you don’t really have a lot of space to complain about Queer As Folk. I didn’t watch Queer As Folk personally, cos I don’t like Mancunians ;).
I don’t find an awful lot of stuff genuinely offensive. If Jerry Springer: The Opera wants to show Jesus as a slightly gay, overweight bloke in a nappy, whatever. Thing about that particular show wasn’t that it was offensive, it was that I didn’t think it was very good.
I don’t have the slightest problem with the gratuitous violence in The Godfather, but I do with the Chucky movies. It’s not really the violence, it’s the fact that the Chucky films are shite while The Godfather is a stupendous artwork of a film.
Only a couple of the CDs I own have those ridiculous ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on. One of them is An American Prayer by Jim Morrison and the Doors. It has all manner of swearing and images many people might find gross or icky- at one point he talks about the ‘Catholic heaven’ of a Spanish girl’s period and then talks about lying with a bleeding virgin before saying: “We could plan a murder/Or start a religion.” Personally, I find it a pretty yucksome image, but I don’t listen to Jim Morrison to be wrapped in fluffy cotton wool while being serenaded with only the sweetest of nursery rhymes.
Then, later on there is ‘The Movie’:
The movie will begin in five moments
The mindless voice announced
All those unseated will await the next show.
We filed slowly, languidly into the hall
The auditorium was vast and silent
As we seated and were darkened, the voice continued.
The program for this evening is not new
You’ve seen this entertainment through and through
You’ve seen your birth your life and death
you might recall all of the rest
Did you have a good world when you died?
Enough to base a movie on?.
Now, I happen to think this is a perfectly sound poem, particularly considering that Jim’s poetry (as opposed to lyrics) tended to be pretentious at best and unbearable at worst. I love the idea of life as a movie, yadda yadda, A-Level English Lit exam blah blah… and then this happens:
I’m getting out of here
Where are you going?
To the other side of morning
Please don’t chase the clouds, pagodas
Her cunt gripped him like a warm, friendly hand.
It’s alright, all your friends are here
When can I meet them?
After you’ve eaten
I’m not hungry
Uh, we meant beaten
Silver stream, silvery scream
Oooooh, impossible concentration.
And every time I hear it, I cringe. Just cringe. I have an uneasy relationship with ‘OMG THE C WORD!’ because on one hand, it’s a terrible word and on the other, I can reclaim it from the misogynist wankers by using it on my own terms. And you know, it’s only a word.
You know my problem in this case? It’s not the use of the word cunt, it’s the fact that it comes from nowhere and the whole line makes no sense after what came before. I find it as offensive as the previous stanza simply because man, what the fuck is it doing there? It’s not the cunt that annoys me or makes me cringe, it’s the fact it doesn’t seem to belong there.
And you know, in the capable vocal hands of Jim Morrison, even the usually aggressive, hostile sounding ‘cunt’ comes off sounding rather smooth and velvety. What a cunt.
All this literary criticism is getting in the way of my actual point. Is it that I’m just not easily shocked? I don’t know. I thought I might switch off this tv show when they got to the autopsy bit cos I didn’t fancy watching it. I carried on and you know what, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought. It’s a dead body being cut up, but you know, it’s science dude, and this shit has to be done every day by people.
And you know what, I must be a really bad Catholic if OMGBLASPHEMY doesn’t offend me. I can understand why people are offended when television shows criticise their religion (as opposed to attack their religion, which to me is a different issue), but if you can’t take criticism, I think it does stand to reason that you need to think about why. If Catholicism has survived the ravages of the Reformation, surely it can survive Jerry Springer: The Opera and a little gay sex on TV now and then.
The ‘if you don’t like, don’t watch!’ argument has always troubled me, not least because I hate when fanfic writers invoke the related argument for their Mary-Sues… but you see, my problem isn’t complainers complaining about these shows, some of which genuinely are gross and disgusting, my problem is them wanting it taken off the air. I’ll never tell a Mary-Sue writer that they can’t post their stuff on the net, but I will say that I have the right to read and criticise. The thousands who complained about Jerry Springer: The Opera have the absolute right to complain, but perhaps they should’ve waited until it was shown and they saw it? ‘If you don’t like, don’t watch’ does hold- you have the right to complain, but you do not have the right to tell the rest of us we can’t watch it and that we’re evil or depraved or sick to want to.
This isn’t about keeping the kind of softcore stuff Footballers Wives peddles off the air when kids are watching. I’m all for the 9pm watershed so that there’s a delineation between what’s acceptable for children and what isn’t. The watershed allows parents to know that the stuff on later is probably not what they want their precious Jacinta or Heath watching, but it also gives programme makers a time when they can experiment. I find it absolutely unacceptable that people like the guy from Mediawatch UK or the late Mary Whitehouse should feel they have the right to tell me or anyone else what to watch, or feel they have the right to tell TV programmers what to show.
But you know, right now the thing that offends me the most is Josh Hartnett’s alleged Yorkshire accent in Blow Dry. Sometimes it’s Geordie, sometimes its Minnesotan, sometimes it’s West Country and only on ‘maybe’ and ‘mum’ does it hit the Yorkshire mark. Obese Jesus in a nappy just doesn’t compare to that horror. Shame on the BBC indeed! I WANT MY LICENSE FEE BACK!