Quite a day really. I couldn't quite bring myself to wake up while the hour still had a seven in it. However, I got out of bed long before 9am and was on the road to Leeds at 9am. A friend of mine is renovation a house and I'd offered to help. The journey there took longer than expected with the huge gales having made the roads rather treacherous. It is quite intimidating to be driving past a series of articulated lorries lying on their sides in the roads.
Arriving in Leeds, I joined in the house-demolishing fun. We did many trips to the tip. I plundered the walls with wrecking bars. Many tiles were smashed and skirting boards were removed. We did some temporary wiring - my knowledge of how to wire a lighting ring came in handy (to me at least). I then communed with the wood-chip wallpaper in order to strip it.
Come 7pm I downed tools to head back to Newcastle. My friend had an evening appointment to keep with his brother's hospitality, and I planned to spend my evening with the Jerry Springer night on BBC2, the highlight of which was the first broadcast of "Jerry Springer, The Opera".
I have now seen "Jerry Springer, The Opera" three times. I first saw it at Edinburgh Fringe 2002 in the same room and on the same day as I saw the very informative "Zip - 100 musicals in 100 minutes" (if I'm totally honest, I think that Zip was a large influence on both musicals I've been involved in writing). In October 2003, I went to see the Jerry Springer opera in its preview week at the Cambridge Theatre - I was impressed, but felt something might be missing. Tonight, I saw the TV show, with David Soul playing Mr S. The cast were similar to the one from October 2003 (Michael Brandon played Springer then and a few other of the principals, especially the very memorable nappy fetishist, were different). The TV proved it tonight. This is one hell of a show!
The memorable nappy wearer, now recast
Despite being a very well thought out and quite moralistic piece. Tonight's broadcast received tens of thousands of complaints... before it happened. People were wound up by the outrageous exaggerations of various church groups and tabloid newspapers. There were two principal objections. The language and the religious imagery. In respect of the language, the objecters can fuck off. Language happens. We have a vulgar vernacular. In this case, the obscenities were used to make a point - they made a laugh (juxtaposed against the moment, as real world expletives often are if you're not used to them) or they described the characters. The characters themselves were caricatures, though the previous programme on BBC2 had shown the real world of Jerry Springer and the characters in that were more scary. There are some really weird real people out there. The sanitised cariactures are preferable. Secondly the religious imagery was not naturalistic. It embraced the ideas of Christianity (it was Christian groups complaining) but portrayed them in an intentionally irreverent fashion, in order to link back to the world of Jerry Springer.
Incidentally, the program did not criticise religion or religious people. It was very much in the vein of the morals that "decent people" might support. Yet it is the apparently "decent people" who jump on the bandwagon and object to "such filth" lest they actually learn something. The broadcast was clear before and even during that some viewers may not find it to their taste. Personally, if something on TV isn't to my taste, I turn it off. If it's a pile of shit, I wish that it were not broadcast, but I don't make a song and dance. If it's good but not to my taste, then I simply don't watch. I'm sure that the production values on "Last of the Summer Wine" are excellent. I don't watch the thing. It's not to my taste. I'm sure that programmes like "Big Brother" are made to a high standard of everything except content - perhaps they should be taken off the air, but I've not wandered along to London to burn my TV licence in some public display of ignorance.
The point is that censorship has to be used wisely. I don't believe in an indiscriminate right for people to incite whatever ideas they like. I would intentionally stand in the way of giving the BNP a platform on broadcast TV. I do believe, however, that censorship should not be overused by people promoting their own beliefs, or worried that something appears to be subversive. Especially when they're clearly ignorant about its content. The Jerry Springer Show itself is a lot more decadent than the opera about it. I didn't see thirty thousand people trying to stop that getting aired. I'm sort of on the side of the BBC for sticking to their guns. In fact, I'm more on the side of the writers and producers of the show for creating a great piece of work and a total of 6 hours' entertainment which I've enjoyed over the last two and half years.