If You’re Taking Offence, Take O-Gate As Well.
I cannot be fucked with people who “take offence” or “find that offensive.” Everything has the potential to offend. Everything. Offence is taken, it is not given.
Frankie Boyle says that what he finds offensive is banality. I find it offensive that more people vote for television shows than vote in elections. Who cares? I can deal with it without greeting to the national press or starting a lobby group. I don’t hold the same reverence for Stephen Fry as the rest of the nation, but he does occasionally say some important things.
The true absurdity of “offence” was highlighted to me some years ago, on the back of this Irn Bru advert:
The advert received seventeen complaints because of the final scene, where the woman is shown shaving. It was feared that this may cause offence to transgender people. Whether it was actually transgender people who complained, or merely goody-two-shoes acting on their behalf and without their approval was not made clear.
I remember questioning it at the time. If seventeen negative comments can get something banned, does that mean that eighteen positive ones can get the same thing reinstated? That would demonstrate that more people like it than don’t.
That is the fundamental nature of my hatred of this culture. That a handful of people can ruin something for the rest of us, just because they are not equipped to deal with things internally. As Fry says, being offended is essentially a whine.
There was the controversy, too, when Frankie Boyle upset the parents of someone with Down’s Syndrome. As I believe he said at the time, people laugh at the things that don’t affect them, which are (in his case) no less abhorrent than the other jokes he makes. They just chose to be offended by the one that related to them, rather than by the AIDS and cancer jokes. There’s an intelligent article on it here.
The final word on this is a quote that I got from the Father Ted scripts book. Somebody had complained to Channel 4 about an episode where Father Jack refers to rabbits as “hairy Japanese bastards.” As descriptions go, it is fully in keeping with the nonsensical, whimsical world they created. I think I read the quote sometime in 1998 0r 1999. It summed up what I felt at the time, and something that I have come to firmly believe.
“You can never underestimate the desire some people have to be offended.”
– Graham Linehan
If you do feel offended by something that you see on TV, do remember that there is an ‘off’ switch. Try reaching for it.