Flippant mockery of a trans documentary was acceptable 8 years ago but now has to be censored
30th September 2016
Harry Hill's TV Burp
Dave, 23 May 2016, 16:00
Dave is a television channel aimed at a predominantly male adult audience.
A viewer alerted Ofcom to an episode of Harry Hill's TV Burp including an item which referred to a Channel 4 documentary entitled The Pregnant Man . The documentary was about Thomas Beatie, a transgender male who was able to conceive and
carry a baby because he had chosen to retain his female reproductive organs. The item intercut clips of the Channel 4 documentary with content featuring the comedian Harry Hill as he sat behind a desk in the studio and commented on the various
The viewer considered that the item contained references which were offensive and discriminatory towards the transgender community.
The item started with brief clip of the documentary including footage of Thomas Beatie and his wife, Nancy, was then broadcast, with the following voice-over from the original Channel 4 documentary: For years, he's been a devoted husband
to his wife, so much so that when Nancy discovered she was unable to conceive, Thomas came up with a novel solution . [Images of a pregnant Thomas Beatie were shown]. He got pregnant . [This was immediately followed by laughter from Harry
Hill's studio audience]... And continued in pretty much the same vane.
Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include, but is not limited to...humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity,
discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of...gender...). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.
The Licensee said it had given due consideration to this item prior to its broadcast, and had removed one minute of potentially offensive material from it, because it did stray away from mocking the documentary as a whole to mocking Thomas
Beatie personally . UKTV argued that as a result of the edit, any potential offence had been sufficiently contextualised.
The Licensee also referred to the fact this episode of Harry Hill's TV Burp was originally broadcast on ITV in December 2008 and had been investigated by Ofcom following complaints about the programme. Noting that Ofcom had not upheld these
complaints, UKTV said that this does suggest that at the time neither the ITV audience nor Ofcom considered Harry's review of The Pregnant Man to be offensive or in breach of the Code .
Nonetheless, the Licensee acknowledged that public awareness of, and attitudes towards trans issues have changed since the episode was originally recorded in 2008. The Licensee therefore asked that Ofcom acknowledge that it had ruled on
this episode in February2 2009 and did not find it in breach . It added that it felt that this is a pertinent point as it demonstrates not only that audience attitudes shifted, but those of the regulator have altered too
In conclusion, UKTV said that given the change in public attitudes to trans issues, it had therefore re-edited this episode of Harry Hill's TV Burp to remove this item entirely from any future broadcast.
Ofcom Decision: Resolved
Given all the above, we did not agree with UKTV's argument that Thomas Beatie and his wife were not the object of Harry Hill's mockery. We considered on the contrary that the overall portrayal of Mr Beatie was significantly discriminatory towards
him and to transgender people generally. This was because it presented, over a relatively prolonged sequence, Mr Beatie's transition as an object of mockery and humour, and could have been understood by some viewers as making a clear association
between Mr Beatie and a Victorian freak show . We therefore considered that the material was clearly capable of causing offence.
Ofcom was of the view that Harry Hill's comments about Thomas Beatie had the potential to cause considerable offence, particularly to transgender people but also to viewers in general. Ofcom noted that the Licensee said it took steps to edit the
item before transmission in an effort to limit the potential for offence (because it could have caused offence to the transgender community as it did stray from mocking the sensational titles of Channel 4 documentaries to mocking Mr Beatie
personally ). UKTV also acknowledged the change of public awareness and attitudes to trans issues since the original programme was first recorded and broadcast in 2008. We acknowledged that these steps taken by the Licensee helped to mitigate
the offence to some extent. However, we considered that, even in its edited version, the item still had the potential to cause considerable offence in particular to the transgender community but also to the audience more widely.
Taking all the elements above into account, we were of the view that the offensive material would have exceeded the audience's likely expectations and was not justified by the context. We concluded that the material was therefore in breach of
Rule 2.3 of the Code.
However, Ofcom noted that the Licensee: did take steps to edit the item before transmission; acknowledged the change of public awareness and attitudes to trans issues since the original programme was recorded and broadcast in 2008; and, had
therefore edited out this item completely from this episode going forward so the item would not be broadcast again by UKTV.
In light of these steps taken by UKTV, Ofcom's Decision was to consider the matter resolved.
Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has been fined £1,000 for making a joke about a black security guard at a public event.
Gascoigne joked abut Errol Rowe, a security guard, during his An Evening with Gazza show, by asking him: Can you smile please, because I can't see you?
Ordering Gascoigne to pay Rowe £1,000 in compensation, District Judge Graham Wilkinson lectured Gascoigne:
You sought to get a laugh from an audience of over 1,000 people because of the colour of Mr Rowe's skin. Mr Rowe was clearly humiliated on stage, as part of an act.
As a society it is important that we challenge racially aggravated behaviour in all its forms. It is the creeping 'low-level' racism that society still needs to challenge. A message needs to be sent that in the 21st century society that we live
in, such action, such words will not be tolerated.
It is not acceptable to laugh words like this off as some form of joke.
Ordering Gascoigne to pay a £100 victim surcharge and a £500 contribution to the cost of the prosecution. Gascoigne has pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence
Offsite Comment: The state's war on amateur comedians
In the latest ethos, which has spun well beyond college campuses in short order, any tradition, any experience, any costume, any way of doing and saying things, that is associated with a minority or disadvantaged group is ring-fenced:
look-but-don't-touch. Those who embrace a vast range of "identities" -- ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability -- are now encouraged to be possessive of their
experience and to regard other peoples' attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.
I'm dismayed by the radical left's ever-growing list of dos and don'ts -- by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any
perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.
Disney has withdrawn a children's costume depicting the tattooed Pacific demi-god Maui after PC accusations of promoting brownface.
The full-body, zip-up costume, linked to the upcoming animated film Moana , featured brown skin with traditional Pacific tattoos, a grass skirt and bone necklace.
PC whingers accused Disney of cultural appropriation, comparing it to the racially offensive black face make-up once worn by white performers in US minstrel shows.
Disney said in a statement:
The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some. We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and
A press ad for the Ginger Pop Shop seen in the Purbeck Gazette in June 2016 included text which stated Visit our shop and get the tea-towel! and featured an illustration of a golly character holding a pint of ginger beer with text
underneath stating ENGLISH FREEDOM .
Two complainants, who believed the depiction of the golly character was racist, objected that the ad was offensive.
Ginger Pop Ltd said they did not accept that the golliwog represented negative racial stereotypes. They provided information about the history of the golliwog character, including his origins in a children's book in the late nineteenth century.
They provided a copy of that book and a sequel, with quotes about his origin from the author. They also provided a modern edition of a Noddy Book and The Golly , a collectors' handbook, which showed the variety of golly memorabilia
available. They also provided a letter from a supporter and a comments book from their shop, which they said showed that the vast majority of passers-by were positive about the fact they sold golliwogs in their shop. They referred to two online
videos they had uploaded about golliwogs. They believed the character as depicted in the original books and on Robertson's marmalade badges was heroic and was an aspirational role model. They acknowledged the character had become stereotyped over
time which they said had led some to believe the character was negative. They also said that he was not intended to be seen as a human character but as a magical being, and that many people of all backgrounds had golly toys as children. They
supplied a tea-towel which they had produced to celebrate 120 years of golliwogs, which included many adjectives to describe the character and which they were said were far removed from the minstrel doll stereotype.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA understood that there had been some local controversy around the tea-towel produced by Ginger Pop for display and sale in their shop, and that the ad was a reference to that. However, we did not consider that all readers would be aware of
that background, or that such awareness would necessarily impact on their reaction to the ad.
The Code required marketers to ensure that ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on various grounds, including race. We noted that the ad
featured an image which was recognisably a golly character. We considered that many people were likely to view the character as representing negative racial stereotypes, and its prominent inclusion in a press ad was likely to cause serious or
widespread offence. We also considered that the inclusion of the words ENGLISH FREEDOM in the ad was likely to contribute to that offence, because in combination with the image it could be read as a negative reference to immigration or
race. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of.
A new video game set to be released on Playstation's virtual reality system is set to outrage a few feminists.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is already controversial on conventional consoles and has been self censored and withdrawn from US and European release.
In a video showing the platform's new VR technology, the man playing clearly uses the motion controller to touch her inappropriately, despite her protests. The feature lets players ogle the female body, even though she tells him in translation:
I don't like it . She also uses a word that directly translates to bad that is often used to flatly deny permission.
Founder and Creative Director of Games We Play, Kate Raynes-Goldie complained:
Very often women in video games are sexually objectified and don't have any agency in the game and this is taking that to the next level.
I think that video games play a strong part in contributing to the larger culture and what social norms are. The problem with that is the more you see that the more it becomes ok.
It's normalising it... It's definitely going to be changing the norm and further contributing to that norm that women are objects and no means yes and adding to that problem we have in society.
It is unclear if the Japanese version being demonstrated is the version to be released in the west on October 13.
A few Americans have been 'outraged' by an advert for a mattress store in San Antonio, Texas. Piles of mattresses were knocked over and the store owner, Cherise Bonanno, telling the camera we will never forget .
Miracle Mattress was then subjected to social media 'outrage'' for its twin tower sale advert.
Mike Bonanno, the owner of the Miracle Mattress chain, moved swiftly to issue an apology on behalf of the company.
I say this unequivocally, with sincere regret: the video is tasteless and an affront to the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.
Furthermore, it disrespects the families who lost their loved ones and continue to struggle with the pain of this tragedy every day of their lives.
We will be silent through the 9/11 Anniversary to avoid any further distractions from a day of recognition and remembrance for the victims and their families.
We take full responsibility for our actions and sincerely regret the hurt and pain caused by this disrespectful advertising campaign, he added.
EverydayFeminism.com, which describes itself as an educational platform for personal and social liberation, does not use the term trigger warning in front of its articles, not because it dismisses concerns for distressing readers
susceptible to sensitive material, but because the word 'trigger' relies on and evokes violent weaponry imagery.
An editor's note attached to the July 15 essay When You Oppose Trigger Warnings, You're Really Saying These 8 Things, said:
Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our readers' trauma. However, we use the phrase content warning instead of trigger warning, as the word trigger relies on
and evokes violent weaponry imagery. This could be re-traumatizing for folks who have suffered military, police, and other forms of violence. So, while warnings are so necessary and the points in this article are right on, we strongly encourage
the term content warning instead of trigger warning.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo , has wound a few Italians with its latest issue containing a cartoon portraying victims of an earthquake that killed almost 300 people as different types of pasta.
The cartoon was titled Earthquake Italian style . It depicted a balding man standing and covered in blood with the moniker Penne in tomato sauce , a badly scratched up woman next to him labelled Penne au gratin . A pair of
feet sticking out between the floors of a collapsed building is entitled Lasagne .
The mayor of Amatrice, a town flattened by last week's quake, is famous for the pasta sauce, amatriciana, that carries its name. The town's mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, said:.
How the fuck do you draw a cartoon bout the dead? I'm sure this unpleasant and embarrassing satire does not reflect French sentiment.
The French embassy in Rome published a statement on its website and Twitter, saying the cartoon:
Absolutely does not represent France's position, and is a caricature by the press (and) the freely expressed opinions are those of the journalists.
One of the key creative figures behind the popular video game Tekken 7 , Katsuhiro Harada has been speaking of the PC bullies who seem to determine how Japanese games are censored for the western world. In an interview with
Eurogamer Harada fires back against what he sees as ill informed Western critics who judge Japan by their own cultural standards. He explained:
The swimsuits was a good example. People who don't even play the game, they maybe just hear that there are swimsuits in it and then they say, 'Woah, you have these girls in sexy swimwear, what's wrong with you? You're such male chauvinists etc.'
But what they don't know is that it started off in the arcade and it's a season line, like you do for Christmas, Halloween or whatever. And it's not just the women. Robots have them, Kuma, Panda, the male characters have swimwear. It's not like
we're trying to sexualize the female characters at all. But they don't go and look for that info before they criticize. So that is pretty frustrating.
Censorship is a legitimate problem when Japanese games come to the West. For example, the much-lauded Tokyo Mirage Sessions suffered a number of bizarre minor changes to desexualize the female characters.
Asked about disappointed gamers who just want to play a game the way the original creators intended, Harada said:
Well, I guess people forget that the game goes through very strict ratings in various countries, and the level of severity kind of changes depending on the country.
But Tekken has cleared those and been released. So people who actually look into the game content have seen it and it is fine. And so, as such, as long as it passes those kind of censorship or whatever for that country, as judged by their
government or an official organization and not some random guy on the Internet, then obviously we want to release the content so as many people can enjoy it as possible.
Indonesia's Child Protection Commission has called for a ban on a rice noodle snack called Bikini whose packaging features a cartoon image of a woman in a bikini and a label which says squeeze me . The commission's Maria Ulfah Anshor
There is no relation between rice noodles and bikini. Regardless of the producer's intention, it creates an improper situation for children and triggers pornographic thoughts. The producers could have offered something more relevant rather than
sex-related content on its packaging.
The snack, which has been on sale for about a year, has caused frenzied debate on social media and was labelled immoral by the mayor of Bandung, where it is believed to be manufactured. The name Bikini is made up of letters from bihun kekinian
, which means trendy rice noodles.
Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, which typically monitors ingredients, said it had launched an investigation and believed the snack should never have been allowed to be sold. The agency's Penny Lukito, whinged:
It's clear that with such porn nuances there is no way we would let them go into the market.
According to a report in The Jakarta Post, the Bikini snack ban was part of a growing moral panic .. The newspaper explained:
The [food agency's ]reactionary move is the latest example of government support for a conservative agenda, clamping down on anything it deems hazardous to the nation's 'moral fibre'.
After such good publicity, the snack has inevitably proven popular online.
Publicity for a Sydney strip pub has generated lots of 'outrage' and publicity for its sexist promotion offering free meals for hot women.
The Petersham Inn, in Sydney's inner west, has recently transformed into an American-style sports bar, including an adult entertainment venue featuring strip shows. The Petersham Inn is offering free meals for hot women hitting a nerve
with a local women's group.
The Strip Inn is accessible through a separate entrance to the public bar, featuring topless waitresses and strip shows.
A poster, depicting an attractive woman seductively eating a slice of pizza, is plastered outside the venue, advertising a promotion where hot girls eat free .
Members of The Inner West Mums Facebook group kindly whinged about the promotion calling it degrading to women and say it is sending the wrong message to their children.
But the venue owner Bianca McDonald, who took over the establishment in late June, said the campaign was was supposed to be a creative and funny attempt to attract more ladies to the pub.
Ms McDonald told the paper the promotion encouraged staff to have a little fun with women who ask about the free meal offer, with bar staff instructed to um and ah about whether the woman is hot enough for a few seconds, before
offering them a free meal with any drink purchased.
She said she had only received one formal complaint over the poster, and she said she was disappointed that only three women have taken up the free meal promotion so far. She didn't comment on the worldwide free publicity attracted to her venue.
Canadian comedian Mike Ward has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help pay his legal costs after being fined for cracking a bad-taste joke against a disabled teenager.
Montreal's misleadingly named 'Human Rights' Tribunal ordered the comic to pay Jérémy Gabriel $35,000 (£20,000) for the hurt caused, and another $7,000 (£4,000) to Gabriel's mother, Sylvie.
However, Ward has refused to pay, and plans to launch an appeal. He says his stance has pushed his legal costs up to $93,000 (£54,000) which he is now hoping to cover from his fans and supporters. Writing on GoFundMe, Ward said:
I told a joke. Was it in bad taste? Yes. Comedians should be allowed to tell jokes, even crass, hurtful ones. Hurt feelings shouldn't dictate what a comedian can or can not do on stage.
I've already spent 93 thousand dollars to make sure I don't have to pay 42K... I'm either really bad at math or I take free speech pretty goddamn seriously.
The jokes that landed him in trouble were aimed at Gabriel, who was born with a skull deformity called Treacher Collins syndrome. He became well-known in Quebec after he was flown to Rome to sing for Pope Benedict in 2006. One gag in Ward
s'eXpose tour and 2012 special was about Gabriel getting so much attention over his condition but now, five years later, and he's still not dead! ... Me, I defended him, like an idiot, and he won't die!".
'Justice' Scott Hughes found that the French-language routine went beyond the limits that a reasonable person must tolerate in the name of freedom of expression .
Ward will perform a show at the Edinburgh Fringe next week about his freedom of speech battles.
Embrace is a documentary that sets out to raise awareness of the female body. It has been given an MA 15+ rating by the Australian film censors with consumer advice of strong nudity. The censors noted that some of the genital detail
included protruding labia in a sequence showing different women's vaginas in close up
However body image campaigner and the film's director, Taryn Brumfitt, is not impressed. She claims that the restricted age rating reinforces the message that women's bodies are shameful. She added:
It puts my film in the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey. t's wrong on so many levels. I am outraged.
The Board of Directors have got their heads in the sand if they think that's offensive. These images are not crude. We don't need to be ashamed of how our bodies look.
An M rating [PG-15] (stipulates) that nudity must be justified by context. The nudity in my film is completely in context. The only way these images can be harmful is if they continue to be censored.
Andrew Mackie added for the film's producers, Transmission Films:
This is a very disappointing decision. The whole point of this entertaining and educative film is the message that all bodies are different ... and that girls and women should be encouraged to love themselves exactly as they are.
This is a message that needs to be heard by girls under the age of 15.
[One can't help wondering if the filmmakers would be so keen on young boys oggling the 'message'].
Transmission Films also confirmed today that Facebook would not allow a post of the film's poster to be boosted to reach an additional audience because the image has excessive skin.
After screening at this year's Sydney Film Festival, Embrace is to be released in cinemas nationally on August 4.
Update: New Zealand ruled by Australian censorship
The Australian film censor's decision to give Taryn Brumfitt's Embrace a 15 rating has had a knock on effect in New Zealand.
Before the Australian decision, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary. Now the 15 rating has caused major problems for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), which
plans to show the documentary later in July. E
New Zealand's censorship laws mean that if a film is restricted in Australia, it needs to be classified for New Zealand audiences by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). While the film is being classified the festival is not
allowed to sell tickets to anyone under the age of 18. A decision on its rating is expected by July 26, but that is just three days before the documentary is scheduled to screen in Auckland.
NZIFF communications manager Rebecca McMillan said the age restriction could prevent mothers taking their daughters to see the film, limiting potentially important conversations about body image. She hoped the New Zealand OFLC would give the film
a more lenient rating than its Australian counterpart. McMillan said the NZIFF wanted girls as young as 12 to be able to see Embrace . That's the most vulnerable audience with body messaging, she said.
Before the Australian Classification Board's decision to award an MA 15+ rating, Embrace was exempt from classification in New Zealand on the grounds it was an educational documentary.
Nudity depicted in a documentary about positive body image was deemed too much for young Australians, but New Zealand censors have decided the film is for all Kiwis.
New Zealand film censors of the OFLC have decided to award the film an M rating, with a descriptive note for offensive language and nudity .
The mature M rating is an advisory rating recommending that the film is suitable for over 16s. However there are no restrictions but a person of any age may see the film.
The OFLC said in its official decision that Embrace was a well-made, thought-provoking and uplifting examination of body positivity, self-worth and diversity of representation. It also said it would likely be an educational resource for younger
and older viewers alike, and facilitate discussion.
Embrace director Taryn Brumfitt says New Zealand's censors have made the right decision not to restrict her film. She said:
Embrace is an entertaining, life-affirming film that leaves audiences feeling inspired. The decision of the New Zealand Classification Office can give New Zealand audiences confidence that Embrace is a film for everyone.
Rebecca McMillan, the NZIFF's communications manager, said they were thrilled at the change: she said:
The NZ classification decision means that this educational documentary can reach the people who need to see and hear body positive messages the most. New Zealanders of all ages can decide for themselves whether they are mature enough to see the
film and understand the themes that it raises: themes of body positivity and representation of women in the media.
We're encouraged that the Classification Office considers New Zealanders more culturally aware and willing to have these conversations with our children by allowing an unrestricted rating for the film.
Taryn Brumfitt will be in attendance at the Auckland and Wellington screenings of Embrace to participate in a Q&A session.
Uninvited sexual advances and unwanted verbal contact with a woman, including catcalling or wolf-whistling in the street, are considered to be hate crimes by Nottinghamshire police.
The police force has expanded its categories of hate crime to include misogynistic incidents, characterised as behaviour targeted towards a victim simply because they are a woman. This means incidents ranging from street harassment to unwanted
physical approaches can be reported to and investigated by the police.
The Nottinghamshire force defines a hate crime as just about anything:
Any incident which may or may not be deemed as a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.
Misogyny hate crime is classed under the new policy as:
Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.
Shooter , a US TV drama about a sniper has been postponed after the Dallas sniper attack.
The series, which stars Ryan Phillippe as an expert marksman, was due to start on 19th July. But a spokesperson for the USA Network told the Hollywood Reporter:
In light of recent tragic events and out of respect for the victims, their families and our viewers, we have decided to postpone the premiere date for the upcoming USA Network series Shooter to July 26.
Phillippe, who is also a producer of the show, plays Bob Lee Swagger, an expert marksman, who is persuaded to return to work for a clandestine operation by his former commanding officer played by Omar Epps.