Archive for August, 2005

.xxx nixed

The Bush administration is blocking the creation of a .xxx top level domain name, even though ICANN approved the concept back in June.

The .xxx domain would force pornographers to abide by certain standards, and would make the filtering of unwanted material much easier. But moral campaigners do not like the idea of a “red-light district” on the internet, and the Department of Commerce has received nearly 6,000 letters and emails “expressing concern about the impact of pornography on families and children”.

The campaign is spearheaded in the US by the Family Research Council (“Defending Family, Faith, and Freedom”):

Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .XXX domain.

(Thanks to Richard at drawing breath)

Nuns picket Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral, one of the settings of the upcoming film version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, was the scene of furious nun protests yesterday when it was visited by Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen and director Ron Howard.

The Dean of Lincoln believes the book to be “tosh”, but was persuaded to allow filming at the cathedral when producers offered drop a cool £100,000 into the collection box.

One of the raging nuns, Sister Mary Michael, 61, said:

I just don’t think it is right that they are filming this story here. I know the bishop and dean argue it is fiction – and it might even be brilliant fiction – but it is against the very essence of what we believe.

Yes, and…?

(From The Telegraph. Thanks to Tom P.)

UPDATE: According to the BBC, there was only one nun – Sister Mary Michael. She knelt outside the building for 12 hours in protest. More words from the seething sister:

It matters to me what God thinks, not what the film crew think.

When I face almighty God at my final judgement, as we all will, I can say I did try my best. I did try my best to protest.

As we suspected – she’s just making sure her own arse isn’t fried come the Final Judgement. Typical.

Ofcom cracks its whip

The BBC today received a reprimand from Ofcom for showing the series Britain’s Streets of Vice too early in the day. MWW covered the Daily Mail/Mediawatch-UK outrage when it was in full flow, back in March.

Ofcom received 58 complaints, and judged that

Investigations such as the Britain’s Streets of Vice series are manifestly in the public interest. However, the freedom to explore some issues may be restricted because of scheduling considerations.

Any joy this decision might have given Massah John Beyer will be short lived, however, as in the same issue Ofcom refused to censure the BBC News 24 or Sky News for broadcasting Bob Geldof saying “fuck” twice in ten minutes during a speech about poverty in Africa.

Swearwords of this strength are almost always unacceptable pre-watershed. We appreciate that the words were, in the main, used to convey a great strength of feeling. News channels do have an overwhelmingly adult audience and it was clear that, on this occasion, the language had not been used to intentionally shock or sensationalise.

But don’t let it happen again:

we would not expect to see a repetition of this and certainly not for such language to become commonplace, despite the target audience of a channel for its pre-watershed programmes. In the future, we would expect pre-watershed news bulletins to include such language only when the language, itself, is the story, rather than being incidental to it.

Springer on or off?

Reports in The Sunday Times, The Independent, and now the BBC are all jumping on what we hear at MWW thought was old news, namely that the Arts Council decided at the end of June to withdraw its offer to help fund the UK tour of Jerry Springer: The Opera. All the reports claim that JS:TO will not be shown in the UK in the foreseeable future.

This contradicts what Stewart Lee told MWW two weeks ago, which was that the show would go on.

All very confusing. Will try to get the facts.

UPDATE: Coincidentally, Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas are doing a “funny talk about JS:TO” today and tomorrow (16th and 17th) at the Assembly Ballroom in Edinburgh. The feeding of this old news to The Sunday Times couldn’t have anything to do with drumming up a bit of publicity for this show, could it? Fair play to them.

Expect a “the show will go on” announcement today.

MWW has just purchased two tickets for the Feb 10 performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Corpus Christi to show at Edinburgh

The Terrence McNally play described by Stephen Green as “a massive homosexual propaganda vehicle” is being shown at C Electric (the old Odeon on Clerk St). Corpus Christi was the subject of Christian Voice’s main pre-Springer protest when it was shown at St Andrew’s University in 2004.

The producers of the current show have been forced to seek police advice on providing security for their actors. Director Zsuzsi Lindsay told The Scotsman:

In America, we had a few protesters from a local church who we invited to talk to us about the play, and many of them actually went away wondering why they had been protesting. But in St Andrews, the people didn’t want to know and they were outside every night and actually tracked down our directors to their homes, which was quite scary.

Edinburgh Christian Voice member Bruce McNally, who was involved in the St Andrew’s protest, says:

I am quite surprised that this kind of material is being brought to the Fringe, especially with the new religious hatred Bill going through Parliament, as it is deeply offensive to many people.

Bromwell High

Bromwell High, Channel 4’s latest animation adventure due to be screened next Friday at 11.20, has drawn criticism from John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK. The cartoon follows the exploits of three naughty teenage girls, their underpaid teachers, and a headmaster who won the school in a bet.

The naughtiness of the schoolgirls is the aspect which troubles our smut-hating hero most of all:

I feel that if they are going to be portraying that sort of behaviour in a cartoon it will trivialise problems in society. I think it’s ill conceived and typical of Channel 4 when there is such concern about delinquent and behaviour among young people.

Anil Gupta, the producer, responds:

It’s a comedy. Maybe they should lighten up.

Popetown released

Revolver Entertainment last night released the controversial BBC production Popetown on DVD.

Managing director of Revolver Justin Marciano said:

Revolver has never shied away from controversial titles. Popetown is an incredible piece of work with an outstanding cast, we’re delighted to have acquired it despite stiff competition from bigger organisations. As soon as we saw it we knew it would be a huge hit with the British public who love controversy and will undoubtedly reserve judgement until they have seen it for themselves.

The first episode has been available free of charge to members of the National Secular Society for a couple of weeks. Apparently the BBC weren’t lying when they said its “comic impact did not outweigh the potential offence it will cause”. It truly is crap.

Dungeon does Devil’s work in Edinburgh

According to The Scotsman, The London Road Parish Church in Edinburgh is formally objecting to The Edinburgh Dungeon having its licence renewed. Apparently the tourist attraction has a display called “Satan’s Grotto”, which the Christians feel “trivialises evil” and could encourage children to worship the devil.

Not only that, says the Rev Bill Armitage,

We were very offended that last Easter they were offering children spells. We thought that was in very poor taste at Easter time. We object to the trivialisation of the Easter message.

The Xmas display included elves impaled on spikes, roasting robins, and Santa Claus boiling in a witch’s cauldron, leading Malcolm Dickson, the session clerk at London Road, to whine:

Their ‘Santa display’ twisted the whole meaning of Christmas. It is supposed to be about the birth of Christ and hope, not about evil.

Bill and Malcolm are currently starring in a hit comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe called God, that’s funny! which tackles head-on the myth that Christians don’t have a sense of humour.

Oh, wait. No, they’re not.

(Thanks to The Pagan Prattle)

Don’t make fun of Cristina

Cristina Odone in The Observer is complaining about people who make fun of idiot religious conservatives. She opens her argument with a common misreading of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which claims that the people of Rome became so weakened by booze, sex, and pushing the boundaries of taste and decency that they were no match for the invading barbarians. Gibbon’s thesis is, of course, more complex than that, and the reality is more complex than Gibbon’s thesis, but it’s a useful myth for self-appointed moral guardians to put about.

Anyway, we mustn’t be mean because,

By deriding their dissent, they are pushing a basically innocuous force into strident outbursts or, worse, violence.

Cristina Odone is a self-confessed Catholic. This means that she believes in an anthropomorphic Creator of the Universe who chooses to manifest himself on a weekly basis in the form of millions of tiny biscuits.

Not that we here at MWW would dream of mocking her for that. She might hit us.

Beyer on the bottle-wank

Big Brother contestant Kinga apparently committed a love-act with a bottle of Jacobs Creek on Tuesday night, and Ofcom has received about 80 complaints as a result, The Guardian reports.

The reporter consulted Mediawatch-UK’s John Beyer for some wise words on the topic:

Channel 4 is a public service broadcaster that has high aspirations for quality and innovation but this sort of indecent pornographic behaviour shows Big Brother for what it really is, which is just to be controversial

was the ungrammatical contribution from the self-appointed defender of “the beautiful English language.”

He went on to criticise Ofcom for letting standards slip:

The regulator is not fulfilling its role, it seems to me that in terms of after 9pm they won’t do anything

said the man who bemoans the decline in communication skills among the young, and blames the media for it. In terms of after 9pm? Maybe the boy Beyer is watching too much telly.

Both Kinga and Channel 4 have subsequently denied that any improper relations with the forementioned bottle occurred. Whatever the case may be, the scene was edited in such a way as to leave everything to the imagination – so MWW can only conclude that those who complained about it must have extraordinarily filthy imaginations.