Saturday, December 08, 2012

Humiliating people isn't funny

I ran out of time, otherwise I was going to comment yesterday about the infantile stupidity of the two 2DAY FM presenters who made a hoax call to the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital.

Events overnight made me find time today.

Who these morons call is irrelevant to me, I just hate the whole childishness of hoax telephone calls.

Supporters call them ' harmless pranks'  but they're much more than that.

It's nothing but "Look at me, I'm cleverer than you. You're stupid" designed to embarrass and humiliate the person receiving the call. It has no place in adult life, it should be left behind in the schoolyard after the age of about six.

There are calls to women telling them their husbands are being unfaithful, calls to students telling them they've failed their exams. Now a call to a woman struggling with illness in hospital. It's not clever, it's not funny, it's not adult, it's not responsible. It's plain infantile nastiness masquerading as humour.

The latest' prank' was applauded widely here in Oz by media types although, not for the first time, they were out of step with majority public opinion.

According to the Herald the radio station realised it was facing a backlash from the public, two thirds of whom regarded the stunt as cruel, according to one poll. Their Facebook page has thousands of comments, most expressing outrage.

Yet up to yesterday the papers were talking about a harmless prank, all good fun. Christine Sams in the Sydney Morning Herald told us that "in Australia, those who are well practised in this art of japery said on Thursday that the British outrage over the phone what makes it so good".

Her report includued comments from other media people, such as:  "It's funny and I think (the radio station) was wrong to apologise". "Prank calls are really legitimate...". "Three cheers to them, I think they've done an amazing job...the joke went really well. Anyone who doesn't laugh at this story, and works in the media, is angry they didn't do it themselves".

The story finished: Despite the official public apology from Austereo, Greig and Christian were said to be privately delighted by the global reaction. Their names (and the 2DayFM brand) have made headlines across the world.

It's all changed now though, after the worst possible outcome with news that a nurse on the receiving end has killed herself.

2DAY FM 'apologised' but the herald confirms that more than seven hours after Jacintha Saldanha's death, 2Day FM's website was still plugging its royal scoop, which one of the presenters insisted was just a "big fat joke".

We obviously don't agree and the latest news is that after the huge backlash major companies such as Coles and Telstra have pulled their advertising from the station.

What is amazing me is the two radio presenters are still getting support from people who should know better.

For example, ex-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet said today he hoped the Australian public would support the two radio hosts involved in the 'prank'. There was nothing wrong with the 2DayFM prank and the radio hosts should be given support, he said.

"Now they will be under extraordinary pressure and I just hope that they get our support and that their employer provides them with the professional support to help them get through what will be a terrible few weeks," Mr Kennett told ABC radio".

So suddenly they are the victims!

In an obvious move to get onside with the public mood the media has suddenly changed from 'perfectly normal, typical FM radio harmless prank" to throwing up their hands in horror.

Amongst it all I thought an editorial in the Herald hit the nail on the head: What holds a civilised society together is an understanding of action and consequence, a duty of care to each other that allows some elasticity for fair mischief and good humour, but does not contravene a handful of basic tenets: humanity, dignity, compassion, respect.

By the way, 2Day FM is the station found to have breached the ''decency provision'' of the broadcasting code when presenter Kyle Sandilands called a female journalist a ''fat slag'' and a ''piece of shit'' on air because she'd dared to criticise him.

The culture of a company is set and maintained by management. 2Day FM's management and board need to be held accountable for what is done in the station's name.

Todays extensive coverage in Sydney Morning Herald is here.

1 comment:

The Weekend Blogger said...

This post of yours is exactly what I think about these "on-air" hoax calls that radio presenters indulge in to show off their ablities to think quickly and mimic voices and accent. I find it completely juvenile and unacceptable and prefer to tune into those stations which do not indulge in such silly gags. I am appalled by the outcome that this so-called prank had - the loss of a precious life and I hope that the two presenters who thought that they were being oh-so-funny realise how far their joke has gone.