Most people in the UK can’t have missed the furor caused by BBC2’s screening of “Jerry Springer, the Opera” – the hit west-end show. Over the last week or so, I’ve had several e mails from some of my old Christian contacts urging me to write to the BBC and OfCom to complain about this screening. I didn’t do this – for several reasons.
- I wasn’t able to watch the show, as I was enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant in Dublin.
- I wouldn’t be able to complain about the show’s content until after I’d seen it.
Now, I haven’t seen it, so won’t comment on the supposed blasphemy and inordinate number of swear words reported in the media
This post is in fact directed at the Christians who are judging this on a few biased sensationalist media reports, rather than gathering the facts for themselves (which in this case could easily be achieved by, say, watching the programme) and then commenting on it’s content. (at this point, I have to applaud James Salter for doing just that)
As I’ve read elsewhere, the show is a satire based on the world of “reality TV” and these confrontational American talk shows, rather than being directed against Christianity. Now, remember, I’m basing this post on the media reports I’ve seen about this show – I’ve not seen it myself – and as I don’t find either American talk-shows, or indeed Opera particularly appealing, I can’t see myself doing so.
However, had this show been directed at any other religion in the UK it would probably never have opened even in the Theatre – the pandering to religious pressure groups is getting silly – but then, both America and the UK are seen as “Christian” countries – and in that a show which references religious “characters” – is more likely to be understood if they are the major figures in Christianity then if they are figures from other, no less mainstream, but generally less understood religions.
Obviously, I’m not intending to tar everyone with the same brush here, but some so-called “Christians” have let themselves down here in a big way over the last week or so – people for whom forgiveness and love is at the core of their beliefs should not be threatening senior BBC staff . Their behaviour should be as much as embarasment to Christianity as the actions of various other “religious” extremist groups the world over are to theirs.
Of course, the protesters have also dragged up the argument that a programme being shown on BBC2 well after the watershed might be watched by impressionable young children – can I remind you all that regulating what children watch on television is the responsibility of PARENTS – not the media, not the broadcaster, but their parents. If you, as a parent, don’t want your kids watching “Jerry Springer – The Opera” – don’t let them! (although if the language and behaviour of local youths here is anything to go by, they won’t be learning anything new anyway). The 9pm “watershed” was set up to give parents a guideline that things shown before it are generally more suitable for children than things shown after – but it’s there to help parents regulate their childrens’ viewing, the BBC is not (and should not be) playing the role of a Nanny and removing the need for responsible parenting.
My point is this – yes, Jerry Springer may be blasphemous, yes it may be offensive.. but you don’t have to watch it – and you certainly shouldn’t be judging it without getting all the facts and making a balanced and informed decision.
However if you think you’re going to be offended by something that’s on TV – simply pick up the remote and do one of two things – press the “off” button, or change the channel – or lodge a complaint once you have all the facts (so watching the show would be part of that) – the BBC is not forcing you to watch this – we live in a country where we have the freedom to make our own choices – in this modern Digital TV world most people have at least 4 other channels to choose from, many have more than 100 others…
As an aside, I think it might be interesting to see what Google Adsense comes up with for advertising on this story – I’m guessing that as well as tickets for the West End show, there’s likely to be some other, more “interesting” adverts here too… we shall see!
Story edited 11 Jan 2005 – mainly to avoid upsetting the Christians who I count as my “friends”.