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Wed, Jun. 10th, 2009, 08:28 pm
The Chaser's War On Everything

From Lateline: "ABC management has pulled the comedy program The Chaser's War on Everything off the air for two weeks over a skit which satirised a well-known charity for dying children. [The Make-A-Wish Foundation] [...] The Prime Minister joined public criticism of this week's program which carried the controversial 'Make a Realistic Wish Foundation' sketch."

- http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2008/s2591144.htm

* First of all, from memory, the skit doesn't actually "satirise" The Make-A-Wish Foundation; a satire involves something "in which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule", "that has the effect of making some person or thing ridiculous." - Oxford English Dictionary.

Now, i think the Make-A-Wish Foundation is a dubious organisation, completely open to some decent satire. (I worked for one of their call centres; their organisation's description of operations raises questions that i never found satifactory answers for; like, if almost half of your donation goes to the outsourced call centre (DTS), how is it "non-profit"? And, what happens if they're low on cash and they're asked to do something for a kid with ultra-rich parents, seeing as they don't distinguish based on income?). But they weren't making the Make-A-Wish Foundation seem "ridiculous" - they were satirising a culture of thriftyness and 'economic rationalism' - look at the title of the segment: it's the "Make-A-Realistic-Wish Foundation".

So the premise of this "outrage" (assuming any actually exists) is illogical in the first place.

* Secondly, pulled it off the air for two weeks? Wtf is that meant to achieve?

* Thirdly, whose complaint, exactly? I find it difficult to believe that it was viewers of The Chaser's War On EVERYTHING who made any sort of complaint; i wouldn't be surprised if this had more to do with the complaints of a few morons somehow associated with ABC management. I suspect there is no public outrage at all - or if there is, it doesn't involve much of the public.

* Fourthly, our idiot prime minister apparently made a comment about it. Exsqueeze me? Didn't we just get rid of a dickhead prime minister who thought his job description somehow involved making commentary on television shows? (I hate Big Brother as much as the next person, but i don't need to know John Howard's stupid opinion about it.)

Julian Morrow is quoted saying: "We don't agree with the decision, but we do want to apologise anyway. The sketch was a very dark sketch - clearly too dark - and we acknowledge the pain and the hurt that it's caused to a lot of people and we're really sorry for that."

* It was a little dark, and i can see how somebody who actually was dying, or had a kid dying, might have been disturbed - not by the nonexistent satirisation of Make-A-Wish, but just by the flippant references being made to the kid's deaths. I'd say this was a staple of "black humour" though, and something that people are normally happy to take-in-stride.

I don't expect everyone to be a Taoist when they have (or know someone who has) a terminal disease, but i don't think it's an unreasonable joke (nor do i think "laughing at death" is an unreasonable attitude to promote).

Still, it's interesting to read this from Julian Morrow; most of the time, Morrow is unapologetic for 'making the fun'. He described the APEC conference skit - in which the Chaser team were accused of breaking an idiotic anti-protestor law by entering the "green zone" surrounding the APEC conference - as "The stunt that went horribly right."

If this does show where the limits of his humour might lie, i'm glad he sees 'potentially upsetting sick people' as being more regrettable thing than breaking an evil law.

* What i was shocked about was that the Make-A-Realistic-Wish sketch attracted outrage (or, we are told that it attracted outrage, anyway), but on the same program, the sketch about the impoverished community in Africa being asked to donate to a Sydney private school's rowing club didn't.

I didn't think that should have been outrageous either - i'm sure they didn't actually take the African's money, i'm sure it was staged. But you would think that if ABC management had any moral fortitude (and IIRC it's headed by Keith Windschuttle - a right-wing historian who denies the extent of the Aboriginal genocide - so they quite possibly don't have any moral fortitude), that would be the skit they'd be investigating for possible ethical breaches!

* What's most disturbing is that they apparently clipped the "offending" sketch out of the podcast. They didn't put up a warning, or a disclaimer, they actually censored it, in the most physical way. THAT is pretty offensive.
(Deleted comment)

Sat, Jun. 13th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
dissembly

people suffering in cancer wards, where the two rowing club collectors went first

That might be why i was confused...

causing the audience discomfort about our comfortably-held, under-scrutinised notions of what charity is and who is truly 'needy'.

That does seem to be a big thing in Australian culture; or at least, in tabloid journalism reporting on Australian culture. It's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins sometimes.

I saw a statistic that something like 80% of Australians have no confidence in the media, but i wonder, if you did surveys like the Fox News ones in the US (that revealed that a significant proportion of Fox News viewers had factually incorrect beliefs about the wars/terrorism), if it'd turn out that people are influenced without knowing it, or that the media accurately reflects some attitudes, despite this lack of confidence.

This is going almost completely off-topic, of course...