Yes Today Tonight, your sleaziness has my attention
For about the fifty-millionth time on my television screen in recent times, I recently witnessed yet another slimy current affairs story that shouldn’t have been screened at 6.35 pm.
This time it was the tale of a woman who is taking her former boss to the cleaners for sexual harassment. In itself, the story on Today Tonight didn’t particularly offend my sensibilities; it was quite newsworthy and, if told sensitively, may not have aroused my ire. But it’s the sleazy manner in which these stories are so often portrayed that really gets up my nose.
Why did they have to give the intimate details of the case – word for word? Why did they have to quote the man who supposedly said to the young woman during dinner that the dessert was so good it was ‘like a **** in the mouth’? Oh yes, they beeped out the ‘offensive’ word. Woohoo! Good on them for being so ‘family friendly’.
What they don’t seem to comprehend is that it’s not just the one beeped out word that’s potentially offensive, but the whole thing.
There was no guesswork required. We are not expected to use our intellect at all for this kind of television. Do they think we are complete morons? Do they assume we don’t understand what sexual harassment means? Could they not have just hinted at the suggestive remark, using more appropriate words for early evening viewing? Do our kids need to be exposed to these kinds of themes at a time of day when they—quite rightfully—should be able to be in the same room as the television?
And how about our older citizens, raised in a more genteel world than our own and who often find such things genuinely upsetting? What about being sensitive to them? Or are they supposed to just not watch the news or current affairs? Is it a case of ‘Get with the times Gramps’! If you don’t like it then just don’t watch it’? How is that catering to the needs of the wider public? Does anyone else find this shameful? Or am I just a lone voice waffling in the dark?
What I’d really love to know is when did we ordinary people say it was okay for this stuff to be on television? When did we sanction the use of the most offensive expletives during daytime television? When did we say it’s okay to screen violence or sexualised behaviour in ‘family viewing’ times? I don’t remember being asked, but somewhere along the line it all just happened anyway.
Our so called ‘media watchdogs’ are toothless mutts. If you complain to them, they just say ‘It’s within the Code’. Like this excuses them from any responsibility towards shielding vulnerable members of the community from inappropriate language, graphic violence and explicit sex. The ‘Code’ seems to be code for ‘we do whatever the TV stations and sponsors want us to do. End of story.’
I recall not long ago the ‘turkey slapping’ incident (another delightful treat from the Big Brother abomination) being gnashed over by the current affair shows. They were outraged, they said! And yes it was a tawdry incident. Yes it was demeaning to women. But was it appropriate to tell the whole story, blow by blow, at tea time in front of the kids?
Oh silly me! Of course it was ratings and not kids that were the main concern of the producers. Another great example of television gone to muck.
If we are wondering why anti-social behaviours are escalating and why so many kids are turning to drugs, violence, vandalism and sex as a means of entertaining themselves, then we don’t need to look a lot further than the trash being fed to them by the media machine.
Yes, of course parents have a significant role to play in monitoring what the kids are exposed to. They certainly do need to check media access, but what about the responsibility of the rest of the community – and the media industry itself – to work alongside the family unit to help shield kids from inappropriate viewing? Parents can’t do it alone!
This kind of television is merely attention-grabbing sensationalism which boosts ratings (and thus money-making potential) and appeals to the apparently widening group of sleaze-lovers.
So, my message to the TV stations is this: Start acting like the ‘community partners’ you so often claim to be. Give decent families a break and, while you’re at it, get yourself some reporters who understand the word ‘subtle’.
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