Yes, it’s time once again for yet another slice of manufactured, pre-packed outrage – courtesy, as seems to be increasingly the case, of Melbourne’s Herald-Sun. In case you missed it here, pretty much all you need to know is this:
THE ABC is facing another barrage of public anger over a new TV show in which shock comedian John Safran simulates sex acts to an image of US President Barack Obama.
Canny readers will have already noticed the all-important word there: “facing”. That’s right – this is a news story about something that hasn’t actually happened yet. Someone at the Herald-Sun checked out the first episode of Safran’s show Race Relations (the first two episodes are floating around, having been sent out to media last week) and thought “if I beat this up hard enough, there’s a page 3 story here”.
Not much of a story, mind you. The only person outside of the journalist, ABC sources and government spokespeople who actually go on the record is a spokesman for Australian Family Association, Mr John Morrissey. He called it “filth”, and according to this story said “it would be the lowest point in Australia’s television history.” Thank you Mr Rent-a-Quote. It’s be interesting to know if he’s actually seen the show or merely had it described to him by the Herald-Sun writer down the phone: either way, the fact he’s not a fan isn’t exactly news to anyone not breathing through their mouths. Guess Fred Nile wasn’t taking calls that day.
Disclousure time: I’ve seen the first episode of Race Relations. And guess what? Probably not for everyone. Mostly not for people without a sense of humour, but seeing Safran steal a varity of (seemingly) unsuspecting women’s undergarments and then sniff them is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But when / if you actually sit down to watch the show, one thing becomes very, very clear: the joke is always on Safran himself.
In Race Relations – at least in the first episode – Safran often comes across as a fairly creepy perv. Maybe not someone Herald-Sun readers would want to hang out with, but who cares? This is a comedy show, and creepy pervs are a great source of laughs. Just dig up then ask Benny Hill. Cheap comparisons to Kyle or The Chaser will be made by various media types (the Herald Sun you say?), but again, the show makes it very clear that Safran is taking the piss out of himself – and perhaps, in the sperm banks sketch, also having a swipe at a fairly unsettling form of genetic segregation. And you’d kinda think that, as a Jew, Safran is entitled to stick his oar in there a little bit.
That said, the real laughs in all this come from the Herald-Sun‘s outraged editorial. Highlights include: “If the public gives a shocked thumbs down to the first episode of Race Relations, director of television Kim Dalton would seem to have no choice but to sack himself.” So presumably if it turns out to be a ratings smash he’ll have no choice but to give himself a raise? And just in case you were planning to make up your own mind about all this, don’t bother: “This is trash TV. It’s not funny and it’s grossly insulting.”
Insulting to who? Presumably, judging by the first line of their news report, they mean President Obama. Gee, somehow I think he can take it. Otherwise, well, Safran himself is insulted a fair bit, and the idea of preserving a unique and seperate Jewish and Palestinian genetic heritage takes a few knocks, and he flies to Africa to ask if a African guy who does well with the white ladies in Melbourne would be considered handsome back in his home country so perhaps some of the un-named and un-identified white women with jungle fever might feel slighted. Those cases aside, the Herald-Sun editorial really seems to be big on rage but short on facts. So again, no news there.
Somewhat surprisingly, the real hero of this story is revealed in one sentance: “Communications Minister Stephen Conroy refused to buy into the outrage.” Fingers crossed the rest of this supposedly level-headed nation does likewise.