Over at the Times
, Janice Turner launches into a jeremiad against vulgarity on television
. It's not the first that I've seen, but what makes this one interesting is the way she links a supposed lowering of public tolerance to vulgarity with the credit crunch.
Which is bollocks. Her first two pars read:Just as the failure of Lehman Brothers was the tipping point towards recession, so the Jonathan Ross-Russell Brand debacle appears to have marked a monumental shift in the cultural weather. The two are intrinsically linked. As our working lives are riven with uncertainty, our savings destroyed and even our lists to Santa downsized, who needs the added annoyance of being told to eff off by your own telly?
The announcements by both Ross and the chef Jamie Oliver this week that they will swear less on their shows were a shrewd reading of the zeitgeist. The age of brashness is over.
This strikes me as dangerously wrongheaded. Ross is still under suspension and has had some relatively strict guidelines imposed on him by the BBC - what he's done is agree to them, not unilaterally announce that he's decided to swear less. As for Jamie, he's a bright lad and he's scented the wind and he's realised that after the various BBC, ITV and Channel 4 debacles of recent months broadcasters are now less likely to step in and protect their talent if they overstep the mark. And anyway, let's be honest, when did the spectacle of Jamie Oliver saying `fuck' ever threaten civilisation?
I don't see a connection here with the economic downturn. All I see is another article beating television with a big stick.
And there's a totally unforgiveable slur on `intellectuals' who allegedly talk down David Tennant's performance as Hamlet because he's a `lightweight tv actor.' Janice Turner needs to get some new friends, because the ones she has don't know what they're talking about.
This kind of fluffy, badly thought-out piece just makes me angry. Turner may have a point that television will be moving away from vulgarity, but it has nothing to do with the state of the economy and everything to do with the fact that audiences and protest groups have discovered that the broadcasters have been shamed to such an extent that they will roll over and play dead at the least complaint from the public, and the talent knows it.