Monday, December 1, 2014

Samantha fully supported

The big nobs of the BBC Trust say Samantha can carry on scoring, and the "older men" of Radio 4's panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue will not be left pulling together their own tallies.

In a 7,000 word judgement - dealing with UN rapporteurs, alleged promises of new female panellists, "institutionally sexist environments" and more - the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee backed its own Senior Editorial Adviser (a woman) in saying that a complaint shouldn't be heard, because it was unlikely to succeed. Nonetheless, the complaint, that the portrayal of Samantha (she doesn't really exist) was merely a vehicle for offensive and harmful jokes, gets a pretty good examination in the course of this rejection.  Andrew Mitchell got a shorter judgement in a real court.

Here are some examples considered in the Trust's ruminations.

“Samantha has to nip out now as she’s off to the pictures with a couple of gentlemen friends who are horror movie enthusiasts. Samantha says she enjoys nothing better than sitting in the back row and being given the willies for 90 minutes.”

“Samantha has to nip off now to meet the Hairy Bikers ... They’ll light the candle then Samantha will blow them out in the garden.”

Here's some of the Editorial Standard Committee's conclusions...

The Committee could understand why some listeners believed that this type of humour was outdated. It had grown out of a uniquely British tradition reflecting social attitudes to sex during a time of strict censorship. The Committee recognised that for some it could be viewed as offensive to women and for some, like the complainant the material was also seen as harmful.

In this case, though, the Committee agreed with the Adviser that due to the show’s heritage the majority of listeners were familiar with the content of the show and enjoyed the wordplay associated with the innuendo. The Committee weighed carefully the audience’s familiarity with the show and its long tradition with its content. It took into account society’s wider concern about sexism. 

The Committee considered that the audience understood that much of the comedy relied on: 
• their familiarity with the panellists as older men 
• the fact that Samantha was an imaginary and fictional character
• the pastiche of sexist culture based on television panel games which had traditionally relied on stereotypical role models (an older man as compere and a glamorous younger woman as his assistant). 

The editorial justification for this content, in the Trustees’ view, was the fact that this content was a skit on both the misogynist and sexist programmes which were predominantly popular some years ago and the attitudes that led to them which still exist today. 

The Committee further considered that the portrayal of the imaginary character of Samantha had been exaggerated for comic effect within audience expectations. The Committee took the view that portrayal of Samantha avoided careless or stereotypical assumptions because the audience understood the context and editorial justification for the content.

The Committee appreciated that many of the lines taken out of the context of the show would be considered sexist. But the Trustees did not accept that the impact of the show was to perpetuate prejudice or disadvantage. They believed that the Radio 4 audience had a much more nuanced relationship with the programme than that.

The Committee concluded that if it were to take this matter on appeal it would consider that the portrayal of Samantha and the delivery of lines met generally accepted standards because of the context, the fact that the portrayal did not exceed audience expectations and the editorial justification. 

The Committee further considered that it would be likely to conclude that the content did not breach the Guidelines on portrayal because the fictional Samantha character was exaggerated for comic effect within audience expectations. The Committee would also be likely to conclude that the content did not seek to perpetuate prejudice or disadvantage.

I'd love to get an estimate of the cost of not hearing this complaint.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Other people who read this.......