Sunday, August 16, 2009

Language and offence (part 3)

Supposedly there's a big conversation going on within the BBC, coordinated by their diversity unit, to examine editorial policy and portrayal issues in relation to sexual orientation.

In 2007 Ofcom looked at the words 'nigger' and 'poof' as used by Big Brother contestants, and the differing ways these words were treated by Big Brother and Channel 4. In 2008 Channels 4 and 5 jointly published guidance which makes plain (in section 4A) that 'poof' is unacceptable in normal circumstances, and can cause serious offence regardless of intention.

Possibly as a result of Ofcom's contorted reasoning in the 2007 Big Brother decision, the BBC continues to allow use of the word 'poof' thus promoting it as an acceptable epithet. As part of its reasoning Ofcom had cited the name of the resident band on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, to demonstrate that the word 'poof' could be acceptable.

Last Thursday the panel on As Seen On TV hosted by Steve Jones (8pm, BBC One) had to identify a mystery guest. Eventually Melanie Sykes succeeded in sussing who it was:-

Melanie: Do you work with a very outspoken chat show host?
Mystery Guest: Yes
Melanie: He is one of the singers of 4 Poofs and a Piano from the Jonathan Ross show!
Steve Jones: Thingy, could you please reveal your identity?
Mystery Guest: Hi, I'm Stephen de Martin, but I'm best known as one of the 4 Poofs and a Piano. {video clip of band singing - FNwJR 6 Feb 2009}
Steve Jones: Fantastic. One poof, no piano, sounds like Elton John unplugged

And as soon as Steve Jones finished reading that line - at that very instant - we saw a close-up of Christopher Biggins, laughing along with the "joke"

No comments: