The comedian Bill Bailey nailed his colours to the wrong mast last night when he told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality that Jerry Springer: The Opera had “overstepped the mark” and that the Jyllands-Posten Mo-toons were “amateurish, heavy handed, and shoddy”, and shouldn’t have been published.
I can see why people would be offended, given the subject matter and how it deals with Christianity. The question is “is the end result valid?”. Is it worth all the offence it’s going to cause? And in that, I think Jerry Springer did overstep the mark.
Now, instead of being seen as a work on its own merit, its notoriety has scuppered its own intentions
Bailey neglected to note that the show had a long and successful run in the West End before the controversy was stirred up. Nor did he mention that the JS:TO controversy was stirred up, just like the Mo-toons, by self-appointed, self-aggrandising “religious leaders” whose primary aim was to increase their own public profile.
Regarding his Mo-toons remarks, the tired old claim that the cartoons we somehow of poor quality suggests that he hasn’t actually seen them. At least two, the paranoid cartoonist at his drawing board, and the “we’ve run out of virgins”, could be considered genuinely funny, a couple were aimed at the Jylands-Posten itself, and several others were neutral portrayals of Mohammed. The only one of the original twelve that caused offence – the turban bomb – could be said to be making a valid satirical point about the connection between Islamism and terrorism. Which is why the Danish imams felt obliged to add three more, far less subtle, portrayals of Mohammed in order to stir up the kind of response they were looking for.
Silly Bill Bailey fails to put the blame where the blame lies.