You know, if you want to spend a half hour reading some of the most entertaining stuff on the web, while simultaneously shaking your head at the state of humanity, you can't really go past the Recent Decisions section of the Broadcasting Standards Authority website.
Published in bursts of a paragraph or so, the Recent Decisions section details the latest judgments from the BSA, including the original complaint and what the BSA decided to do about the complaint, if anything; for some reason, it seems they actually decide to do very little about any of the complaints. And I'm quite happy with that, to be honest: most of the complaints are quibbles that I can't imagine a large portion of the population agreeing with. Here's a recent example:
"Promos for The Almighty Johnsons, Sons of Anarchy and Terra Nova were broadcast during Dr Phil at approximately 1.30pm. The promos briefly showed images of weapons, including a knife and guns. The Authority did not uphold the complaint that these promos breached standards relating to good taste and decency, children's interests and violence: the promos did not contain any AO material, they were appropriately classified PGR and screened during Dr Phil which was classified AO, and the broadcaster had exercised sufficient care and discretion in dealing with the issue of violence."
So, someone complained that there were advertisements for AO-rated material during a show rated AO because it might be harmful to children? It seems to me that the complainant shouldn't be letting their children watch AO-rated material during the day, right? Especially not Dr Phil. I'd rather spend an hour being tortured by the gang on Sons of Anarchy than watch a single episode featuring that idiot.
The sad thing is that complaint isn't even the worst. One complainant accuses Homeland of promoting Islamophobia (which is ridiculous when you consider that part of Homeland's charm was that it confronted pre-existing notions about the Islamic faith). Another expresses dismay that Hone Harawira used the word "bullsh*t" during a news hour. I'd be more inclined to complain if Hone didn't get fired up on the nightly news.
Another claims that a scene containing pixellated nudity and sexual innuendo on Two & A Half Men breached guidelines on good taste and decency. Umm, the basis of every joke on Two & A Half Men is sexual innuendo. Though, to be fair, the fact that the show keeps getting made is indecent itself. Maybe this complaint just didn't go far enough.
Anyway, a recent jaunt through the decisions section had me thinking: what would it take for me to complain about something on television? How bad would a show need to be before I would write to the BSA?
Even though I'm a big advocate for personal responsibility when it comes to television - that is, knowing what my daughter is watching and making sure it's okay for her to watch - I do think that I might complain if something G-rated clearly should have been rated for a much older audience. But, even then, it would have to be pretty bad.
As for adult programming, I truly think anything goes after 8.30pm. It doesn't make sense to me that anyone would complain that a programme being made for an older audience, and airing later in the evening, was unsuitable for kids, especially if it was rated AO as opposed to PGR. My own rule is that if it airs after 8.30pm, check it before letting my daughter watch it - and don't be surprised if there's a little swearing, violence or nudity. But hey, that's just me.
What would make you send a complaint to the BSA? Have you ever actually given serious though to filing a complaint? Or perhaps you have complained to the BSA in the past - what set you off?
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