Sunday, November 15, 2009 by
A man, feeling despondent because his visit to the casino had not made him any happier (or richer), walks towards the camera. He shoots himself in the head, and ends up lying in a prone position, blood pouring from his wound.
This was not an advert about gambling – and it was not even an advertisement for Prozac. It was ‘merely’ what the BBC described as a ‘a ludicrous and obviously comic depiction of (the) suicide’, which had occurred because the man had not waited for a particular brand of car to be available on the market, in which case he might have had second thoughts.
It goes without saying that this promotion appeared in Jeremy Clarkson‘s Top Gear, and it went out before the watershed.
Ofcom, the British equivalent of our very own Broadcasting Authority, found it to be in breach of the broadcasting code and ruled that the images be removed in the programme the following day (which goes out an hour earlier), since the programme attracts a young audience and there were higher odds that children would be watching.
Pulling an advertisement, or a programme, off air is the ultimate solution – but you cannot counterbalance stupidity, especially when it manifests itself during a live programme. That is why some presenters have the time of their pathetic, empty lives taking the Mickey out of callers. Others, let it be said, must be praised for their self-restraint. There is a delay button – but this is utilised only when callers overstep the boundaries of the smart set.
Here I must mention the tens of people who request Domenico Mudugno’s record L’Anniversario because they assume it is the song that best celebrates an anniversary.
Recently, a caller asked for the Burl Ives Maryann Regrets, since “there was her name in it” – and when the presenter asked her whether she did in fact have any regrets, the caller said she does not know what the word means, because she never studied English, so inevitably an explanation of the word followed.
Sometimes, however, it is not the callers who are too lazy to pick up a dictionary. Following the dethroning of Rachel Christie, who would have been the first black Miss England, following an alleged nightclub scuffle, and her replacement by Lance Corporal Katrina Hodge, one disc-jockey interpreted the word ‘brawl’ as ‘dancing and making inappropriate gestures’.
The mind-boggling rot follows through as far as the Broadcasting Authority. This week, it decided to take Angie Laus to task for her inclusion of a short (I refuse to use politically correct claptrap such as ‘height-challenged’) person in the team of ‘Ugly’ people on her programme Ħadd Għalik. This, deemed the BA, was an insult to the said person. The BA ironically and promptly proceeded to rub salt into the alleged wound by calling the man “disabled” – a view that the person himself, who was not even allowed to express himself during the hearing, does not share.
Ms Laus is adamant that the categories within which applicants compete are selected with their own approval, and it’s all done in a sense of fun; this, indeed, comes through on the programme itself. “In our programme, nobody cares whether a person has achondroplasia, colour-blindness, false teeth or a limp,” Ms Laus says. “The only prerequisite is a good attitude.”
• At least there were two equally enjoyable, albeit totally different, media happenings recently.
The book amplifying and supplementing Pandora, the One Television series that explores the supernatural, was launched on November 5 at the Mdina Dungeons. Ruth Frendo and Charles Zarb have made an excellent job of collating the scripts of the programme, additional interviews, and a veritable compendium of information into one volume.
Last Tuesday, 89.7 Bay officially launched the next edition of the Bay Music Awards, at Paranga, St George’s Bay. The 6th edition of the awards will be held on December 12 at the Bay Arena. They will be broadcast on TVM on December 19 at 9.30 p.m., with a repeat on Christmas Day at 3 p.m.
This year there is a new Award – the Bay Bands trophy – which is meant to help new talent gain exposure. There is an impressive line-up of nominees. The public may vote on the corresponding SMS for each of them, with a chance to win excellent prizes. For further information visit www.bay.com.mt.
• Contrary to what has been implied in some sections of the press, the postponement of Song For Europe has not had, and will not have, any detrimental effect on L-Isfida, in which it was just a sector and did not have any bearing on the set-up of the programme.
I have it on good authority that ESC Malta contacted no one from the Sfida team about the issue. In any case, the programme is set to run until March 2010, so there is time enough for inclusion of slots about the Eurovision contest.
The format of L-Isfida is flexible, and its duration is long enough to carry the Euro Song entries during whichever phase they begin.
Alas, I have run out of space before commenting on the weird requirements some drama companies have for wannabe actors and actresses. Watch this space.
Stories of an American couple's adventures in Italy
'Ghandi x' Nghid' (I have something to say) is a blog that focuses on current affairs and personal reflections - Andrew Azzopardi