What Happens When You Don’t Explain the Joke

There’s a proper Vale Hamster Wheel post on its way, but we wanted to bring this up first: it seems Age TV critic Jim Schembri either can’t take a joke, or simply doesn’t get it:

For me – and this will come as no surprise – the biggest laugh came when their awards for outrageous online reporting were dubbed The Schembris. My deep hatred for the laziness, fabrications and irresponsibility of what occurs online under the guise of journalism is well-documented, and it was a tribute as humbling as it was hilarious.

Sadly for his version of events, Schembri’s one-man war on bloggers isn’t nearly as well-documented as the somewhat tangled mess that occurred late last year  (*edit* actually earlier this year, as Daniel G has pointed out) when he wrote an on-line review that contained a massive spoiler in the opening line. He then went back and changed it after numerous complaints, then pretended the original never happened, then claimed the whole thing was a prank he’d played on the internet, especially twitter users.

You can read the whole saga here and here. Or if you feel like giving your head a good scratching, you can read Schembri’s official version of events here. Please, if you can explain exactly what he was trying to prove (if his version of events was what actually happened), let us know.

So we have three options here. One, that The Chaser really are such massive fans of Schembri’s hither-to unknown efforts to stamp out internet flim-flammery that they’d name a running segment after him in sheer admiration of his good works. Unfortunately, it seems that in a decade of television The Chaser have only ever named bogus awards after people they wish to mock and make fun of. But who knows? Maybe after over a hundred episodes of televisiual satire they’ve decided that the whole comedy thing is for saps and have decided to just straight-out praise people they like rather than laugh at those they don’t. Maybe.

Option two: Schembri simply didn’t get the joke. Problem there is, if he’s missing jokes as obvious and as blatant as that one, what the hell is he doing writing about television (or film, his other job at Fairfax)? It seems unlikely that he’d have much of a clue about anything if something as screamingly obvious as that one got by him. How can anyone trust anything he has to say on anything if he can’t tell when he’s being made fun of ON NATIONAL TELEVISION BY PROFESSIONAL COMEDIANS ON THEIR OWN COMEDY SHOW.

Option three: Schembri knows full well the joke is at his expense and is trying to spin the coverage (or just muddy the waters – now his version of events is out there, even we have to pretend it’s moderately plausible) to make him look good. In other words, he’s lying to his readership purely for his own benefit. “Lying” might sound a bit strong, but how else to put it? If he knows they were making fun of him and chooses to say otherwise to his readership, he’s not telling them the truth. Of course, he’ll never admit it and we have no way of knowing what he really thinks. But for the sake of argument, let’s suggest that this scenario is at least plausible.

In which case, what the hell is he doing being paid to write about anything? This kind of media manipulation is rightfully scorned and despised by journalists when it’s practiced by politicans and corporations: what are we expected to think when we see one of them doing it for no other reason than for covering his own arse? Whether you laugh at The Chaser or not is a matter of personal taste: whatever your views on comedy, Schembri’s antics stopped being funny a long, long time ago.

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1 Comment

  • Daniel G says:

    Jim Schembri’s “Scream 4” gaffe happened *this* year (in April), not late last year.