Archive for December, 2005

Fannying about at journalism

Western Mail reporter Hannah Jones needed to pad out her story about Andrew Davies’ upcoming project, so she called on rent-a-quote smut campaigner John Beyer.

Predictably, he didn’t like the idea of adapting erotic classic Fanny Hill for the small screen. Also predictably, his words were grindingly dull and predictable. So much so that we have decided to try to liven them up by making a little exercise out of them.

Fill in the blanks with the correct words:

I think it’s a _____ (bugger / pity / fact) that broadcasters are considering screening this. The BBC especially, as a public service broadcaster, has a duty to its viewers and people expect high _____ (standards / jumps / sex).

I just wish that television bosses would do a bit more to promote good levels of _____ (taste and decency / Morcambe and Wise / S and M) rather than trawling around for controversial programmes which will get them _____ (awards / hard ons / headlines) but will offend many of the _____ (viewers / horses / twats).

Is Tesco still stocking JS:TO?

It seems the Christian Institute may have been mistaken about Tesco banishing JS:TO from its shelves. A subscriber to the NSS mailing list received this response from Wayne Hansen at Tesco customer services:

Thank you for your email.

I can advise we are still selling jerry springer the opera. It has been
certified for sale in the UK by the British Board of Film Classification.

As such we feel it is the individuals choice as to which films they choose
to watch. People who may be offended by certain titles have the choice not
to view them.

Thank you for your enquiry.

Add to this the fact that Asda and Woolworths are all still selling the DVD from their websites, and it looks like the CI are a little bit quick to award their little green tick to retailers.

Beyer Browned-off by Channel 4 show

Surprise! The Sage of Ashford, John Beyer, doesn’t like the idea of mentalist Derren Brown‘s new Channel 4 show, The Heist.

The show involves Derren “persuading” a bunch of businessmen to hold up a security van during a management training seminar. Beyer is raging:

It is not something that Channel Four should be commissioning. If Derren Brown wants to make programmes involving magic, then he should stick to that – not silly stunts glamourising crime,

he drivelled witlessly to the Daily Record.

The thought-provoking show will also feature a recreation of the infamous “Obedience experiment” by Stanley Milgram in which subjects were persuaded to deliver apparently lethal electric shocks to another human being simply because they were told to by a man in a white coat.

Boycott Denmark, urges ISESCO reports that the Islamic cultural organisation ISESCO has called on its 51 members to boycott Denmark over the Mohammed cartoons. ISESCO claims that it “represents the cultural conscience of the Islamic world.”

Abdul Aziz Othman al-Twaijri, the organisation’s secretary general:

We encourage the organisation’s members to boycott Denmark both economically and politically until Denmark presents an official apology for the drawings that have offended the world’s Muslims.

CV to picket Romans in Britain

The Independent’s Pandora reveals that Christian Voice intends to picket Sam West’s production of The Romans in Britain at the Sheffield Crucible when it opens in February.

If the simulated-sodomy scene isn’t removed, they will also consider legal action. With all these expensive prosecutions to fund, CV had better have deep pockets – otherwise they are the ones who’ll end up being buggered.

And that would be such a shame.

Tesco and Asda join in Springer ban

According to fundie homophobes The Christian Institute both Tesco and Asda have yielded to pressure from offended campaigners and removed JS:TO from their shelves.

WHSmith, however, continues to sell the DVD. And the tain company GNER has been singled out by the CI for actually recommending the show to its readers via its Livewires magazine, where it describes the opera as “crashing through every barrier of taste”.

The CI recommends you use the “WHSmith High Street details” and the “GNER Customer relations details” on the pages linked above when you write to them.

(Thanks to Dan Factor)

Trouble in Southend

A Christian bookshop owner in Southend has joined forces with Stephen Green to try to stop JS: TO being shown at the Cliffs Pavilion.

Paul Slennett, of Southend Christian Books, told the Southend Echo,

It makes me feel sick. To a Christian, Jesus Christ is the most precious person on Earth. To see him dressed in a nappy saying he’s slightly gay, it’s abhorrent. I don’t want to take the council to court, but I don’t want to them to put it on.

Slennett is supporting Christian Voice in its expensive blasphemy prosecution against Avalon, the Cliffs Pavilion, and Southend Council. His group has also been leafletting theatre goers during the busy pantomime season.

The council are showing no signs of backing down, however. Andrew Lewis, Southend’s assistant director of cultural services has written to Slennett:

I am genuinely sorry if you feel this show is inappropriate. However, there are no plans to cancel this production and it is the council’s belief that it should not act as a censor in this matter.

Ann Holland, the council’s portfolio holder for culture, told a gathering of 50 protesting Christians that the show was a parody of the Jerry Springer TV show and not a direct criticism of Christianity itself.

Echo columnist Carl Eve has also strongly criticised the protestors:

They’re giving Christianity a bad name, that small group of self-appointed moral crusaders who take the fun out of fundamentalism.
The pity is many non-Christians will read the opinions of Messrs Green and Slennett and assume they represent the authentic voice of Christianity today. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With the council standing firm and the local paper on side, it looks like the Southend protestors have already had their Jerry Springer moment.

(Thanks to Carl Eve)

EXTRA: This is not the first time Paul Slennett has tried to use the blasphemy law against publications he disagrees with. Back in 1998 he enlisted a Christian lawyer to try to prosecute Canongate for the “blasphemous” introductions to its Pocket Canons series of books from the King James Bible.

And back in 1988 Slennett spent thousands of pounds to have Royal Mail envelopes stamped with a postmark reading “Jesus is Alive” for six weeks.

But what bothers me about it is …

For reasons that remain unclear the Arts and Media Correspondent for the Independent on Sunday, Anthony Barnes, thought it would be a good idea to ask John Beyer of MediawatchUK what he thought about a new Channel 4 “reality show”.

The show will follow three heroin addicts as they go through the process of “cold turkey”. Beyer’s comment is exemplary:

Drug abuse is a very serious problem, and if they can persuade people not to take drugs it can be a good thing. But what bothers me most about it is that on the one hand they say they want to show the reality of drug abuse and then on the other they show movies which tend to glamorise their use.

Did you get that? He applauds the programme as discouraging drug abuse, but claims that what bothers him most about it is that Channel 4 also shows films that glamorise drug use (Such as? Pulp Fiction, possibly. Any others?).

This is not true. Nothing bothers him about the programme – he is broadly in favour of it. He is mindlessly using the connective phrase “But what bothers me most about it” in order to make an entirely separate (and highly questionable) point about Cannel 4’s film schedules – and in the process he makes his whole comment incoherent.

Unless he really is saying that if the reality show did glamorise drug abuse then he wouldn’t be bothered about it, because that would be consistent with Channel 4’s general drug-glamorising policy?

When will journalists learn? Even as a rent-a-quote, Beyer is poor value. Much better to give “Bishop” Michael Reid a call – he’s reliably loopy, and much more colourful.

Street-Porter lays into Christian Voice (again)

Janet Street-Porter reprises her Question Time attack on Stephen Green in today’s Independent on Sunday (“portfolio” article – requires payment). Only this time she does a far more thorough job of it.

She gives a potted history of CV since the BBC JS: TO debacle. No new information here for regular MWW readers and Green-watchers, but some fun pieces of invective nonetheless:

…Stephen Green and his nasty band of bigots / bunch of zealots…

Jesus himself would have been appalled by the behaviour of Christian Voice

She also calls for anti-Woolies / Sainsbury action:

I wish all our readers would embark on a boycott of Sainsbury’s and Woolworths for bowing to the wishes of a bunch of fanatics. How dare the bosses of two big retailers listen to the rantings of of a few and then restrict the freedom to choose of the majority of ordinary Britons!

Beyer and Reid enjoy day in The Sun

In accordance with MWW prophecy The Sun today miraculously produced a story out of thin air by phoning up “Bishop” Michael Reid of the Christian Congress for Traditional Values, and Massah John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK to ask their opinion of a Channel 4 magic show.

The Magic of Jesus features magicians Barry Jones and Stuart McLeod reproducing New Testament “miracles” such as raising a corpse from the dead, curing a blind person, feeding 5,000 football fans with five loaves of bread and two fishes, walking on water, and making a virgin pregnant.

The insurance-salesman-cum-bishop mustered some suitable indignation for Sun readers to enjoy:

The big difference between a couple of tricksters performing illusions and Our Lord’s miracles is that Jesus actually healed people, raised the dead and forgave sins.


Maybe these two fraudsters could try being crucified to see if they can rise three days later.

What a fantastic idea, Bish! You won’t complain when it’s on Channel 4’s Easter schedule next year, will you?

Massah John Beyer also muttered something about causing offence, but his words were too overwhelmingly dull to quote here.

Good to see the Mercedes-driving bish back in the papers though. He must have been starting to feel neglected.