Thursday, 20 November 2008

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross

I was amused to see that OFCOM's web site, complaints section, is still sporting a notice to the effect that it has had over 1900 complaints about the Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand phone calls fiasco and implying that enough is enough. I would be fascinated to know how many of those now voicing their righteous indignation actually heard the offending (pun intended) broadcast.

I must confess that I didn't. However I did take the trouble to look up transcripts on the Internet before arriving at an opinion - unlike the lady who phoned my local radio station. After a tirade telling us how offensive, disgusting and un-funny Russell Brand was, she then admitted that she never actually listened to him - apparently changing the channel whenever he came on, because he was so offensive etc. I have a nasty feeling this is not atypical of the multitude champing at the bit to condemn Ross and Brand, preaching to anyone who'll listen about the "filth" they've heard about but not actually heard. There's nothing like a good bit of righteous indignation to clear out the sinuses and generally allow you to vent your disatisfaction with the world.

My first impression from the transcripts was that it was Ross who started it. I feel a bit sorry for Russell Brand. He's not the first epicene youth to be led astray by an older man and certainly won't be the last. OK, he went along with it but once banter like that gets going it's much harder to stop than it would have been not to start it in the first place.

Did they go too far? Quite possibly, but not so far OTT as to merit the furore now raging. It wasn't a huge amount more than you'd expect from two broadcasters at the forefront of the modern "shock to amuse" school of comedy. A little ill considered, perhaps. About the most intelligent comment I've seen from the hordes of critics is the rhetorical question "how would you feel if Russell Brand claimed, publicly, to have had sex with your granddaughter?" I'm assuming here it was the claim, rather than the sex, which was public.

It's a good question and worthy of consideration, so consider it I did. I don't actually have a granddaughter but I do have a daughter which is a similar sort of concept. My first reaction would, I think, be silly girl. You can't associate with the likes of Russell Brand unless you're prepared to end up under public scrutiny. My second reaction would be wow - look at all that publicity. How can I capitalise on that? I don't think taking deep offense would come very high on my list of priorities but then everyone's different.

Talking of publicity, hands up anyone who had actually heard of the Satanic Sluts before this scandal broke. No? I thought as much. Do you think their ticket sales are up or down as a result of this row? I rest my case.

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