Beyond a Joke?

Are our moral and social sensitivities so highly strung right now that we as British Citizens, as a people who have taken satire and humor to weird and wonderful places, who listen to radio (and Television) personalities for a laugh, now can’t stand it when they do what is natural, even if it is out of context and perhaps a little unwise? I’m talking of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, the BBC presenters / DJ’s who have come under fire recently for their prank phone calls to the actor Andrew Sachs.

I’m well aware this post is some out out of my normal manner of writing an article for this award winning blog, and it may well come back to bite me in the ass one day, but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. I’m stating my opinion on the subject.

David Davis MP feels fit to state in the Daily Mail that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand (who both are celebrities of some notoriety already) should be fired for this incident. Director John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK agrees, whilst former BBC Deputy Director, Will Wyatt simply said someone should “take some pain for” the phone calls. Well since right now seems to be the season for reactionary messages coming from every political party, I won’t take Davis’ statement too seriously, and this is exactly the sort of thing Mediawatch-UK was created to make noise about, so I can’t help thinking they’re a little bias.

Both Ross and Brand have sincerely apologised. I have read the transcripts of the phone calls, and they are lewd and sexual in parts, which naturally prompted Sachs’ agent to contact the BBC in protest. He is after all 78, and I can’t imagine any 78 year old, or any one with a granddaughter being happy receiving a similar phone call. Therefore an apology was required, and they were given.

This is the sort of thing they do, for a living, to entertain people, to keep thousands – maybe tens of thousands – employed in the entertainment and media industries in the UK. It requires, in some cases, comic talents and in others frankly downright school-boyish antics occasionally; and yes, sometimes these energies that keep the whole ship of comedy afloat go awry. As they did in this instance. Do we criticise those who satire even our most respected politicians and public figures? Not often. Yet they are only doing what they naturally do for the sake of their livelihoods, which are directly at the expense of others feelings. For the most part Ross and Brand do not do that; it does not take up the most part of their energies doing this sort of thing to people. Normally they simply make people laugh without causing much offence. This time it went wrong, they crossed a line, the end.

An outcry is unnecessary and serious reprimands are unwarranted. With all due respect to Sachs,’ his 23 year old granddaughter (who is certainly no child, and judging from photographs, someone not afraid to demonstrate her sexual allure) and those 1,500 who have complained to the BBC, this is being blown out of proportion. Pranks of this nature, on this scale, do not deserve to get anyone fired.

The Visigoths are not coming over the seventh hill . . . lets learn to take a f*cking joke.


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