Archive for February, 2005

The tidal wave of filth

This morning’s BBC Radio 5 Live’s talk show was about sex and violence in the media. Inevitably, John Beyer was on the phone asserting a link between the media and violent crime/divorce/teen pregnancies/STDs/”swinging” etc.

To back up his claim he cited the tsunami disaster as a demonstration of how TV “affects” the viewer.

[Pause here for the enormity of Beyer’s argument to sink in]

And now to state the obvious. Quite apart from the questionable morality of exploiting this human tragedy to back up his flimsy position, there is also a big difference between the reportage of a real-life disaster provoking feelings of sadness and empathy, and a fictional depiction of sex or violence provoking societal breakdown.

Beyer is either unaware of this fundamental difference, in which case we must conclude that he is stupid, or he is aware of the difference but made the comparison anyway, in which case he is dishonest. Perhaps, given that he is a self-confessed Christian, we should give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not being dishonest.

He isn’t the first Christian to use the worst natural disaster in living memory as a rhetorical device. This guy at UK Christian news described the recent showing of Jerry Springer: The Opera on BBC2 as “the UK church’s equivalent of the recent Asian Tsunami”.


Beyer gives ITV a roasting

The latest series of Footballers Wives includes a “roasting” scene which, according to the Sunday Express (no link to story – very primitive website) “TV watchdogs” are demanding be axed. By “TV watchdogs” they mean, of course, John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK:

Footballer’s Wives has already set a benchmark for explicit sexual scenes. To present such a serious act as rape as an aspect of entertainment is totally unacceptable.  Recent figures show that sexual crime has risen by 22 per cent.  Programmes like this normalise sexual violence and aggressive behaviour.  It certainly does not help in the Government’s quest to reduce violent sexual crime.

Whatever your opinion of Footballers’ Wives, or on the question of depicting a rape scene on the TV, you have to wonder how Beyer can be so sure of the violence-on-TV/violence-in-society link. Does he know something that the rest of the world doesn’t?

Oh wait, he’s right. Mary Whitehouse said so.

National Theatre takes a stand – Mary Whitehouse spins in grave

Interesting report in the Daily Telegraph.

Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre, has unveiled an uncompromising program of plays for the next twelve months. Affirming that the theatre has a duty to explore contemporary issues, however controversial, the magnificent Mr Hytner resolved to defy all attempts by religious pressure groups to censor its dramas.

A quote from The Scotsman:

I hope we’re going to be as bold as we always have been. I’m absolutely determined that we won’t hold back.

The situation in Birmingham was complicated and fraught with ludicrous ironies.

Birmingham Rep was let down by those responsible for the law and order in the streets of Birmingham.

One play sure to stoke the fires of religious intolerance is by Romans in Britain playwright Howard Brenton. It deals with the life of St Paul, the inventor of Christianity. Although Hytner refused to give details, he said the play was likely to prove the National’s “toughest drama of the year”, and

There may be Christians who don’t want to see the faith of St Paul examined by Howard Brenton. It does not conform to the absolute truth that fundamentalist Christians believe.”

Romans in Britain was subject to a failed private prosecution by Mediawatch-UK’s mother Mary Whitehouse, and Brenton’s latest may well inspire similar indignation in her successor, John Beyer.

Sensitive readers of St Paul’s epistles will notice a distinct blip on their gaydars. Which is fine by us, of course, except that he was also a misogynist, a homophobe, and had a weird obsession with hairstyles.

It is good to see the director of such a flagship theatre take a stand for freedom of expression. Let’s just hope the authorities back him up if things turn nasty.

Religious violence trumps free expression AGAIN

It’s Behzti all over again. This time in Holland.

Organisers of the Rotterdam Film Festival had hoped to screen the film Submission, which criticises Islam’s treatment of women, over the weekend. But they decided not to go ahead on the advice of the police after receiving threats. “The decision not to show Submission was made on the basis of security concerns,” the film rights holder, Column Productions, said in a statement.

Religious opponents of free speech will no doubt take heart from the news.

The Dutch authorities clearly think it is less dangerous to cancel the show than to pursue and prosecute those making the violent threats. It isn’t. It is much, much more dangerous.