Finally, New Zealand television has crossed the line.
Now we Kiwis are a fairly liberal bunch – we have a general principle of “if nobody gets hurt, there’s no problem”, which actually extends to “if somebody gets hurt, but you’re drunk, then that’s OK too”.
My favourite radio station, The Edge, doesn’t loop, so there’s often an inadvertent “fuck” on the air. On TV there’s a “watershed” of 8.30pm, by which time any kid under 16 has technically gone to bed.
That’s when local productions unleash the hounds. Sex, drugs, violence and swearing everywhere. Hell, that’s just the newsreaders. In fact, about 15 years ago there was an infamous case of a TV news show reporting on an old guy becoming a dad, and accompanied the story with an explicit porn clip of an old guy boinking a hot girl.
I recall (but am unable to provide details) that the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) ruled that particular act a breach of its codes of broadcasting standards.
Now the BSA gets a few complaints thrown their way, mostly by the last vestiges of the Victorian morals crusaders who loudly proclaim they represent the “moral majority” when in fact they only really represent “the easily swayed weak-minded bastards who can’t be bothered arguing with a pig-headed idiot like you”.
But the BSA considers things like whether the TV station was aware of the offensive content, who the target audience was, what time it was broadcast etc.
It’s ruled on things like whether a news clip of suicide bombing was too violent for kids (it wasn’t); whether an interview with a guy who essentially thinks people should be locked up for life for littering was balanced (it wasn’t); whether showing topless women on motorcycles as news was indecent (it wasn’t).
Basically, the BSA is fairly liberal and open-minded. Three cheers.
But one of my favourite programmes has been ruled to have crossed the line. The show is called Back of the Y. It’s made on a shoe-string budget and features a couple of Kiwi blokes just being yobs. There’s various skits mixed in, such as Bottlestore Galactica and the inept stuntman Randy Cambell.
So what does it take to go “too far” on New Zealand TV? Pooman and Wees throwing shit around, and a woman eating the shit suggestively.
The complaint – made by a guy who has obviously never seen the first South Park short – included the claim that a scene depicting Jesus being beaten up by Santa Claus was a “hate crime”.
The complaint was upheld.
Now, I’m thinking that if that show was broadcast in America there’s a good chance it would bring an entire network to its knees. The phones would overload with complaints. The FCC would be throwing fines in all directions.
But it happened in New Zealand. And what was the BSA’s ruling? Well, first they noted the offending episode was a repeat screening which had attracted no complaints the first time it was shown.
Then they said they hoped the offending broadcaster would take their findings on board for next time.