Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Pass The Green Ink

My God, am I turning into Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells?
This week I complained to The Guardian about their TV critic calling Channel 4's brilliant 'Green Wing' 'Green Room' and they published a correction. This was the second time he had done it. There's probably a comedy to be written set in a green room but if you'd watched 'Green Wing', you'd probably be inhibited from trying.
Then I complained to ITV and Ofcom about an offensive joke made by Jeremy Clarkson on Parkinson about the Germans who died in the Concorde crash. This probably wasn't technically a racist remark if German is a nationality rather than a race (although Hitler might not have agreed with that). But I can't believe it would have been transmitted if the people concerned had been Jamaican. Clarkson's defence was that he is politically incorrect. That is indeed his schtick and very lucrative it has been for him. He can be as rude as he likes about other nationalities but to say, in effect, that being incinerated in an air crash didn't matter because they were Germans is a step too far.
Generally I believe that nothing is off-limits for comedy. If the same remarks had been from the mouth of a fictional character I could probably have accepted them but Clarkson is inviting us to agree with him and laugh with him, not at him. There's also a tradition of tasteless jokes that circulate in the school playground and in the pub on a Saturday night. I've heard them about the Ethiopian famine and the Fred West murders, the latter involving dwarves and window boxes. But this is underground humour that would not only offend but would lose its frisson if it were on prime time television.
Perhaps the most depressing thing was that many of the audience laughed at Clarkson's comment and both Eddie Izzard and Donny Osmond referred back to it in a light-hearted way.
Parkinson muttered something disapproving but inaudible and chickened out of properly challenging it. Some years ago there was uproar when Stan Boardman told a joke about the German Fokker aircraft (=fucker. Geddit?) and it virtually destroyed his television career. It would be good to think that Clarkson's miserable 'career' would also be destroyed but I fear that many British people are still more upset by the F word than laughing at people they don't like burning to death.


At 1:09 PM, Blogger james henry said...

Hurrah! I noticed the "Green Room" thing too. Some people have also been calling it "The Green Wing" as well, which is so nearly right....


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