Content may offend

The Press 08 December 2007
The boom in rudeness and crudeness on TV and in advertising has meant a field day for both the prurient and the prudish. PHILIP MATTHEWS investigates whether it’s really anything to get worked up about. …It’s inarguable that society has got more permissive, that we can see and hear things that would have been unimaginable two or three decades ago. Whether it’s having any negative effect is harder to discern. Especially if you put aside the issue of criminality — the cop-hating videogames and rap tunes that Family First’s national director, Bob McCroskie, believes have contributed to a growing culture of disrespect for the police — and focus on explicit sex, satire and black humour. The big one this year has been TV3’s Californication. News that the series opened with a scene in which Duchovny appeared to receive oral gratification from a nun got McCroskie’s moral-watchdog group organising a boycott. Targeting advertisers is a trick that the Moral Majority in the United States perfected in the 1980s. It’s relatively new here, although Catholic leaders attempted it last year when the same network played South Park’s infamous “Bloody Mary” episode — the one in which a statue of the Virgin appeared to squirt menstrual blood into the face of the Pope. That time, no advertisers bit. This time, McCroskie claims success. He says that 12 out of 18 or 19 targeted companies took their ads out of Californication. This didn’t hit TV3 in the pocket, because it was able to move those ads elsewhere and bring others into the show. “It hasn’t gone to air lacking ads,” says TV3 company secretary and legal counsel Clare Bradley.