Brass Eye was a UK television series that was satirical in nature and was essentially a spoof of documentaries. There was only ever one series made of six episodes in 1997 with a further special episode made in 2001. I watched all of these episodes on Channel 4. The show was created by and starred Chris Morris who to be honest with you decided to go further than perhaps anyone has gone before in pushing the boundaries of what was perceived as right and wrong. The show was hugely controversial and shot to fame for all the wrong reasons with their now infamous Peadophile episode which received a huge amount of complaints.
Despite this series not being to everyone's tastes and perhaps especially that episode being in bad taste, Chris Morris did have the bravery if you want to go one step further than anyone else and really push the limits. He was not afraid to see what he could get away with in the name of comedy and for the most part I though the series was ingenious and very well done, not to mention hilarious when you get into it.
The show itself was so convincing when it was first broadcast that is was responsible for primarily fooling prominent figures at the time into pledging support for charities that were quite obviously absurd and fictional.
For me, Chris Morris was extremely funny and it's just the way he presented the show that made it so good. He had all mannerisms that made it seem like a real news story rather than a spoof. He would relay stories that were so ridiculous they couldn't be true with such a straight face that you almost couldn't help believe him that it was true. It really depends how you took this programme as to whether you enjoyed it or not but if you took it with a pinch of salt and looked on it as the parody it was then you can get past the controversy.
This was the show that finally brought Chris Morris, the director, writer and frontman of this show, into the world of popular conscience, though all for the wrong reasons. The 2001 special edition of this Panorama/Newsnight parady on paedophiles caused a barrage of complaints from ignorant viewers who didn't see the irony that it was those sort of moral bandwagon-jumpers that the show was laughing at.
Anyhow, ignoring the paedophile special for now, the show took news programmes to the absolute edge of comedy. Over the top news graphics, irrelevant statistical analysis. A bossy Paxmanesque frontman who's clean cut appearance could get away with saying anything and reports that seemed to build on Morris' previous show (The Day Today) growing even more outrageous and amusing. Each episode concerned itself lossely with a general issue affecting Britain today, the type of generalisation in the subjects allowing maximum licence and giving another dig at real TV newshows. The episodes were:
Paedophile special (named Paedogeddon)
Furthermore, throw in fake campaigns over issues rendered both heart-warming and career-building by unsuspecting minor celebrities and the show grew another new testicle in its comedic scrotum. Real life celebs tied themselves into what they believed (without using their brains!) to be good causes and are caught off guard declaring such nonsense as: "paedophiles actually have more in common genetically with a crab than a human" (Neil Fox). In fact, one episode which created a fake drug called 'Cake' fooled one MP into actually bringing up his concerns in Parliament.
The paedophile special episode came right in the era of lynchings and media fear that a paedophile lurked on every street corner. Morris grasped this concept and made fools of both the media and the nation.
Such a good show and Morris's finest
I will begin by simply saying for me Chris Morris is fantastic, his television, radio shows and his spoof newspaper columns pretty much always hit the mark for me, I know the humour goes so far past the line of decency that you can't even see the line, but his work also goes beyond comedy and takes satire really deeply into issues that are taboo or unspeakable.
Brasseye - What is it about?
Brasseye was a series of mock documentaries fronted by Chris Morris, his character is very similar to his serious and yet absurd news anchor man on the day to day, he asks ridiculous questions in a serious manner and by doing that gets some quite astonishing answers from real people.
As much a satirisation of the media demonisation of anything and everything as it was simply a mockumentary of programmes like Kilroy and Trisha, the programmes had a serious theme each week and through fictional studio debate and interviews with real people who weren't aware it was a spoof some astonishing and at times unmissable television was created.
Written by Morris with help from Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews (Father Ted, Big Train), David Quantick and Peter Baynham, the script was so close to the bone that there were actually parliamentary debates about it and media coverage demanding it be banned, which certain sketches (Peter Sutcliffe, the Musical) were.
One of the best episodes, was the one about drugs, with the fictional drug Cake, which caused 'Shatner's Bassoon', Morris persuaded serious celebrities including Bernard Manning, Rolf Harris and several MP's to record messages for a charity advert admonishing Cake and an MP even offered to table a question about Cake in parliament, this was amazing to see how easily people could be duped into spearheading media campaigns based on what they were told rather than researching and making their own opinions. Other episodes centred on Aids with the famous question, 'Do you have good aids or bad aids' and the infamous Paedophilia episode, designed to mock the moral panic whipped up by the media it, again celebrities were used and Morris persuaded Dr Fox to explain that Paeodophiles have more genes scientifically in common with crabs than with you or I, other MP's and celebrities were heard explaining how paedophiles had used the internet to emit scents through keyboards that trapped children, nonsensical but perfectly encapsulating the media hysterics which were whipping up panic to the point that a Paediatrician in Wales was almost lynched because her job title sounded similar!
The show was strongly edited once Channel 4 realised how controversial it was and to be honest you can understand why, Morris was so upset with the channel for editing out the Sutcliffe sketch that just prior to one add break, he edited in a subliminal message calling Michael Grade the then Head of Channel 4 'a c**t'. That was to be the end of Brasseye, still available on DVD thankfully and still as relevant in this media age as ever.
Hard to believe it's over 10 years since the original Brass Eye series aired - watching the 'Animals' episode just last night reminded me how fresh, relevant and funny it all is.
The series transplanted Chris Morris's psychotic Paxman-type character from spoof news show The Day Today into a mock investigative journalism/unhinged Newsnight-type prog which, if it investigated itself, might be titled 'When Journalism Goes Bad'.
Morris plays several regular reporting characters, including firm favourite Ted Maul, as well as interviewees. Familiar supporting faces include Mark Heap (Brian in Spaced, that doctor in Green Wing) and the fabulous Gina McKee ("I'm going inside now, like a bad boy", she speaks to camera before interviewing a group of young offenders)
Each episode takes a theme such as Animals or Drugs (including the classic 'cake' piss-take) and shows us the ridiculousness of media hypocrisy and how bad investigative journalism can be. Self-important politicians and thick bandwagon-jumping celebs are mercillessly ribbed as they fall for spoof campaigns and interviews, some of which have to be seen to be believed.
So much for the satirical message though - in the past decade it seems as though TV news and journalism is actively imitating much of what we see in Brass Eye. Good job it does its main job of being very very funny then, eh.
Brass Eye was at the cutting edge of satirical programming, but not everybody warmed to it. Certain issues were raised by some of the tabloid 'news' papers, who, despite showing sordid images in their publications, found the programme tasteless. The media could have chosen a better thing to pick on, as Chris Morris (main writer/main performer on the show) would have probably wanted to produce such a provocative piece of television, and the media coverage it recieved would have probably been taken as a complement by someone who's key aim is to shock, but still to entertain. The special episode of Brass Eye, Paedophillia caused much controversy upon it's airing in Summer 2001. Yet again, the tabloid press were quick to condemn the idea that somebody is "Making fun of paedophillia, and sick people are laughing at it." One particular paper, the Daily Mail should cast it's mind back to the mid 1940's. If I have been informed correctly, it supported Adolf Hitler until one September day in 1939. They aren't right all of the time. After the Paedophiles episode had been screened, there was even a backlash in Parliament. Several government ministers had criticised the programme and Channel Four for showing it. Strangely enough, none of the critical Ministers had seen the programme until after they had made comments about it. Also, the images shown were specifically the criticised factor. The images in question, being images of naked adult bodies with heads of children on top. Not naked children, naked adults. As for the scene where Chris Morris puts two children into a filing cabinet, they were (probably) actors, and there would have been nothing at the back, so it isn't as if they would have been locked up there all night in a strange part of town. Is it?
A lot of the ops written in this category are irrelevant. They are merely about the controversy raised recently over the excellent brass eye television programme's depiction of paedophiles. If you want to read my op on such matters, then check the censorship section, that's where it is. People moan and whinge about a lot of things, usually because they don't understand them, or are afraid of them. Brass Eye has fallen victim to narrow minded people obsessed with political correctness who simply don't understand that the real value of the program lies in the context and presentation rather than the subject matter. Brass Eye is a wonderfully put together program, in fact, I would stick my head out as far as to say it is one of the classics of modern television. True, some people may laugh even though they don't quite get the jokes properly, and perhaps it is satirical to the point where it becomes difficult to understand. If you really look at, and analyse this program, then it isn't really anything so special, to get the most out of it, you have to squint at it a little bit, use your imagination, and maybe even fill in a few of the mental gaps yourself, for me, this only adds to the fun, but for others, it causes confusion and misunderstanding. I'm sure that I'm not the most intelligent person watching it, and there are probably a lot of humour in there that I don't get myself, I get it in a "different way" I don't quite understand it as intended, but it is still amusing to me. The problem with this program, or perhaps it's greatest asset, is that it can be enjoyed on so many different levels, and no one person will be able to enjoy it on all. It can be appreciated for the sheer slapstick drama and shock value, the cheesy titles and cuts, the humorous names and attitudes of the presenters, or the satirical political comments that it subtly makes, sometimes with
out intention. If you have ever watched Newsnight, or Panorama (god help you) then you probably will understand where this program extracts it's victim, and exactly what it is that the program is trying to say about presentation, sensationalisation, and perhaps some more serious issues. If you don't enjoy this program, then I think that you really need to adjust your attitude to life. I know that's a serious comment to make, but it's true! If we can't take events with a pinch of salt, and if we don't have the ability to chuckle quietly about ourselves when we make mistakes, then we'll all spend our lives arguing about "whose fault it is" and "why it went wrong". Great programme, absolutely hilarious, can't wait to see more.
I was holding off writing an opinion on the now notorious Brass Eye paedophile episode until the weekend papers were in and the once weekly review writer could have their say (I was waiting for Simon Heffer to kick off actually - but no). What a wonderfully funny piece of television. I am not a fan of satire as a rule I like more standard observational humour (Jack Dee anyone?) and prefer to steer away from the comedy you might have to exercise your brain about. Brass eye in general I have always avoided as I find celebs making prats of themselves more toe curling than amusing but this was a cracker of a show. Most people feel that the programme must be justified in some way to be able to then state it was funny - but can't we just accept that it was funny without objective justification. Of course it was clever, the mix of the dreadful Crime watch style presenting, the wonderful sketch with JLB8 and the conflicting attitudes of children and adults ' so if JLB8 want to kiss you would that make him a paedophile' 'no' and my personal favourite the inflatable trousers. But this has gone the wrong way. Everyone is searching for a way to justify a programme that was essentially comedy - not social commentary. Clever commentary - yes, but will it change peoples minds about the media and societies weird views about the innocence of children - no. People will read into the programme their own views. (my opinion on paedophiles and the media are in a different opinion if anyone is interested in Kids and Family,(Keeping Your Child Safe from the Outside World) - The Public and the Paedophile) Unfortunately it now seems the presenters, particularly the women whose name I have forgotten from Smack the Pony, are backing down under media (read mail) pressure. It’s a mystery to me Brass Eye parodies the News of the World mentality so the News of the World reacts in the same way it always will, irrationa
lly, and the broadsheets get there knickers in a knot over where they should stand. Hello, it was a comedy programme – nothing more.
Okay, in writing this opinion I think it might be necessary to write a bit of a disclaimer. Firstly, I love Brass Eye. I think it is sharp, witty and - shock horror! - actually quite important. I do not however think paedophilia and suchlike is funny. Nor should I, because I see absolutely no reason whatsoever why this programme cannot be enjoyed as the satire it is without moral scruples. Firstly, for those who don't know, Brass Eye is a spoof Newsnight style programme written and co-produced by Christopher Morris in 1997. Morris's previous contributions were "On the Hour" for radio, and "The Day Today" for Channel 4, a mock news programme. He later went on to write the surreal TV comedy "Blue Jam". The entire Brass Eye series was repeated recently on Channel 4, with a new edition on paedophilia resulting in record complaints to Channel 4 and the ITC. The first question has to be what the bases were for complaints. Simple - it was on paedophilia, and that is all. So is it a taboo to integrate paedophilia and comedy? Well, yes I think it is, and it would have been fair enough to complain had this been what the programme had done, but it wasn't. This was not a half-hour comedy show full of paedophilia gags. This show is a satire, and it is satirising a news format (I will probably repeat this statement again and again just to reassert the fact). It is commenting in no way about its subject matter, as this is not its job. It is commenting about the media's TREATMENT of its subject matter. So why use subject matter such as paedophilia, sex, crime, science, etc? Well, realism is a good starting point. These are current affairs, and considerable ones at that, which the real news programmes are supposed to deal with sensitively and (very important this one) as objectively as possible. The more delicate the subject matter, the more the real media is being condemned in their treatment
of it, since Morris's satire is a satire on the media treatment of such issues, and not of the issues themselves. In order to satirise the media, Morris has no choice but to adopt real news items and current affairs in order to make his material work. He then smothers it with an arrogance, pomposity and over-sincerity, complimented by the overuse of computer graphics and diagrams, which show just how easy it is for the real job of the news to be given second place or even forgotten entirely. And the complaints and the media reaction only confirm Morris's unforgiving methods of attack on the media responsible for initiating manhunts in their naming and shaming campaigns. The media's rash responses to the programme only serve to reinforce Morris's portrayals of them. He has exposed the tendency of the news to trivialise its subject matter, turning it into self-indulgent sensationalism and over-hyped gossip rather than serious informative news. Of course this cannot be said for all branches of the media or even for specific genres such as newspapers in general, yet those papers who generally do a good job of reporting the news also saw the merits of the programme. Moreover he shows the willingness of supposed intelligent celebrities to jump in and read utter drivel in front of a camera. Morris has stated himself the way in which these interviews and speeches work. They get more and more ridiculous, to the point of it being quite unbelievable that the person is still taking it seriously. It is the danger of the gag falling flat on its face which makes it so entertaining. It also shows just how easily led and careless some people with real influence are, which is not only funny but also seriously worrying. In condoning a fake drug called CAKE, all of the participants happily read off "CAKE is a made-up drug" without once realising what they were saying. Another episode saw Richard Briars comparing "heavy electri
city" with "a ton of invisible lead soup" and another saw the inexcusable Phil Collins telling the nation that he was talking "Nonse-sense". To say Brass Eye is revolting is ridiculous in my opinion. It is surreal, and at times disturbing because, yes, it does occasionally make you laugh at something which has been so sensationalised as to become ludicrous. But this is where Morris's talent lies; he does not condone or contest the subject material, because he is acting as a reporter who could care about nothing less than his own ego, and this is what we laugh at - a man and a show which has turned so self-indulgent with its 'power news' and ridiculous terminology that it has become just plain hilarious. But not a real man or a real show - a satire of them, which means that it is them it judges and snubs. One of the episodes showed the presenter shocked and angry at a man who had what he called "bad aids". The absurdity of his reaction and his justification for it is what made this scene very funny. It is the stupidity of some people which is laughed at, and this by implication (if it is even necessary to dig this deep) is actually a POSITIVE thing for the subject matter involved. Brass Eye is a very accurate and clever satire. Yes, it is emotive, but this is its job as a satire. The programme was on after 11 o'clock at night, and I thank the ITC that they think the public who are up this late are responsible enough adults to decide whether they want to watch it or whether they would like to change the channel or switch off. This is what the buttons on the TV are for. I dread the possibility that I will not be given such choice because others have decided it is unsuitable. I do not have a problem with the fact that this might not be to everyone's taste, but these people do not have to watch it. I will watch it, see it the way it was intended and find it funny. It will not ma
ke the ideas themselves of paedophilia etc. any less sickening to me, and nor does it attempt to. Chris Morris is neither an animal nor a moral crusader - his interests lie with the entertainment which news can become, and the bandwagon on which many people jump. His point has been proved. And besides, Brass Eye is funny.
Having just seen a tape of the Brass Eye pedophile episode. I would just like to say that Brass Eye has proved once again that it is simply the best, funniest, most intelligent, program on TV. It truly is a sparkling jewel of delight in amongst the bland conformist crap that comprises the majority of British broadcasting. Anyone who takes offence at this program is simply thick and is missing the point entirely. The hysterical media response to the program has been an absolute pleasure to watch and has had me in fits of laughter - especially the moronic government minister who expressed outrage at the program without even having seen it (is this really a person who should be holding public office?) I trust Channel 4 will continue to allow Chris Morris to uberstimulate our entertainment glands, as the man is a comedy genius. And if this gets the idiot plebeians into frenzy the entire better - eventually they might start to understand the points that Brass Eye raises. THINK FOR YOURSELF Long live Chris Morris, Long live Brass Eye and long live Channel 4 for broadcasting it! "Obey, Consume, and conform.... Or do time"
Brass Eye was a seminal piece of TV history that provoked the End of Satire. It mocked the self-importance of the media, harpooned celebrities and took jackbooted strides over ‘taboo’ subjects. I believe that, after this series, satire reached the end of its life. Where can anyone go with it now? If I were an envelope, I’d hate to be anywhere near this series for fear of origami-contortion. the programme was a clarion call for reason and rational thinking, and so I waited until the series was fully rerun and the media lynch-mobs had undawbed their kroovyblob war masks before attacking the issue. As the furore over the second showing of Brass Eye has now subsided, I thought it might be wise to take a look back at the series, the controversies and the man behind the Meisterwork. Brass Eye is widely regarded as being the brainchild of Christopher Morris, Lionised by many, demonised by the media. Revered and reviled, Morris has (perhaps unwittingly, but never without wit) courted controversy. In 1988, he got a Saturday morning programme at GLR, the BBC’s London station. He was sacked after, amongst other things, airing a bastardised version of the Queen’s speech where Maj expressed fond reminiscences for a room where her father “used to service men and women” and where he announced items such as "Kiddies' Outing", in which a small child would name some public figure as a homosexual. Likewise, the production of Brass Eye in the back half of 1996, echoed with the familiar sound of ‘outrage’ and ‘moral indignation’ that portended another appearance from Morris. The show ran into difficulties before it was even aired. On 18 November 1996, The Guardian proclaimed that “Channel 4 has postponed the launch of a spoof current affairs programme after fears it overstepped the boundary between satire and reality”. It was an interesting choice of words showing tha
t Morris was so accurate in his satire that people’s opinions would be forever changed. Michael Grade, the then controller of Channel 4 talked of Morris’s response to the postponement: “Chris Morris responded to the postponement in a typically robust way. He wrote to President Mandela explaining that his series had been banned by Michael Grade, who had led a campaign to keep the President in prison. He also urged Oliver North, the former Marine colonel and Pentagon official, to intervene on his behalf because I had used my power in the media to smear him”. Morris was not to be deterred from putting across his message. Paul Simon was to receive a note from Grade proclaiming that he thought Art Garfunkel was always the most talented of the two, and Morris was to switch tapes, lie cheat and con his way to getting his views on air. This was a man possessed. In the end, Grade’s stalling over some of the more controversial elements of the programme led Morris to put a subliminal frame proclaiming ‘Grade is a C**T’ into the final episode of the 1997 screening. To analyse Brass Eye is to begin to untangle two threads in (the main protagonist) Christopher Morris’s collection of themes. These are: Exposure of the pompous and sloppiness of the media. Many of these themes have been evident on Morris’s previous works. Morris teamed up with Armando Ianucci for Radio 1’s ‘On The Hour’ which was to spawn the critically acclaimed television series, ‘The Day Today’. Morris et al. showed the pomposity of the media and mocked its ‘tabloid journalism’, sensationalism and self-righteousness. It’s funny to look back at these series today only to realise that the present media cavalcade is a twisted parody of its former self. Exposure of the pompous was something that Morris caused many sensational storms for. In 1994 he lost his job on Radio 1 for anno
uncing the death of Michael Hestletine. His point was made, though, as MPs queued up to pay tributes and feature in soundbites about something they knew nothing of. The 1997 showing of Brass Eye caused a media furore, the media proclaiming the arrival of the anti-Christ in Morissian form. Brass Eye was not to be repeated and it became the stuff of legend (I myself remember watching a copy of a copy of a copy years after having seen the original airing). Today, it is good to see that Chris Morris has the power and the potency to shock. If you have followed the news during the uproar, you may have been surprised by both the longevity and high-profile coverage of Brass Eye. The programme remained controversial and provocational as many other pieces of headline news fell by the wayside. Why was this? Well there are many reasons. I believe it is partly due to the laser-guided accuracy of the satire, which hit its mark and exposed the media and celebrities as attention-seekers. That the media reacted so strongly in 2001 to the claims that they were sensationalist showed that they were, and that they obviously thought they had a lot to lose from such an attack. Wild claims like ‘Are there any depths to which the men and women who run our television will not now sink?’ from the Daily Mail showed the press in a wild-eyed circling of wagons. There was also an uproar from the celebrities (in 1997) and MPs (in 2001) that were 'duped' into appearing on the show. Many claimed that this would put celebrities off from supporting charities in the future and that celebrities would certainly think twice before making charitable appearances again. This is exactly what was intended. D-list ubiquitous faces who had bored us stupid with their desire to be on telly became the masters of their own misfortune. People who were in the public eye were shown as being nothing other than human. It made us question celebrities. Why do we
revere their intelligence? Why are they flagging a particular cause? Anyone remembering Vanessa castigating murderers in prison for killing her ("you stabbed my face off") can see how celebrities were shown as being not only stupid but bigoted too. Noel Edmonds, who complained about being duped was seen as hypocritical after his career of Gotcha! stunts as well as idiotic after complaining that a “made up” drug called “Cake” stimulated an area of the brain known as “Shatner’s Bassoon”. In the end, celebrities were seen as self-serving and as a danger to reasoned debate on any particular subject. So there was some analysis on the programme. Following are some of the highlights of the show: Animals: Showjumper Oliver Skeete, talked of the outrage of spherical cows, cows genetically modified to be just spheres of meat. Peregrine Worsthorne, was lured into a debate on whether wasps really sting. In East Berlin, an apocryphal elephant had jammed its trunk up its own anus in protest. Jilly Cooper gushed on the phone and faxed in a cartoon of the beast's plight which Britt Eckland then championed. Drugs: Celebrities were outraged at the arrival in the UK of a new drug, Cake. Bernard Manning bounced back. ''If you're sick on this stuff, you can puke your fucking self to death. One girl threw up her own pelvic bone. What a fucking disgrace!'' He told us “Cake is a made up drug” without realising the irony. Rolf Harris talked about ‘Czech Neck’ which came from the water retention resulting from taking cake. A person’s neck would swell to engulf their face, thus suffocating them. He warned people of the dangers of being offered ‘Josh Ackland’s Spunky Backpack’. MP David Amess was so incensed that he took the matter up in the House of Commons, warranting a mention in Hansard f
or his troubles. Science: Eve Pollard offered staunch conemnation of the scientific processes that allowed a woman to give birth to "a two foot testicle". The testicle had no mouth and scientists were convinced it could feel pain. John McCriric was as quick to offer his disgust about the experiments where crabs were pregnant with human foetuses. Nick Owen made an empassioned plea about the dangers of ‘Heavy Electricity’ which was caused by ‘Wobbly Matter’ and ‘Sodomised electrons’. He pined for Ghita, “a 15-year-old Sri Lankan, who because of heavy electricity is now only eight inches tall”. Crime: Sir Rhodes Boyson was keen to show support for Bruce Wayne, who hea had learned was a one-manned vigilante from Gotham City in the United States. 'Mad' Frankie Frasier extolled the virtues of the cashback scheme in Toxteth which paid young offenders £25,000 and let them go rather than have them wasting tax-payers money. Sir Rhodes thought that the added incentive of Richard Branson, who would promise to keep an eye from a balloon from which he could see a long way, would help the scheme to be a success. It's easy to see why. Paedophilia: Celebrities talked about HOECS (pronounced ‘Hoax’) games that endangered our children. Phillipa Forrester, a veteran Tomorrow’s World broadcaster told the public about the technology that enabled paedophiles to palpate any part of a child pressed against a computer screen. Richard Blackwood was disgusted that paedophiles could release chemicals through keyboards which made children more suggestive. After sniffing a keyboard, Blackwood became woozy and informed the public of how serious the problem was. And of course special commendation must go to Phil Collins who offered this pearl of wisdom: "If someone shows you a picture of your home town and all the houses look li
ke penises, they're talking Nonce Sense". Thank-you Phil. These were just some of the highlights of a sharp, brilliantly funny show that has already affected the way that the country thinks about these issues. I am afraid that those brief synopses say nothing about the imaginative articles that the programmes produced, but they will hopefully give you a taster of how funny Brass Eye was. Everything about the show was brilliant. Morris’s character acting was perfect. He offered spot-on impressions of the sloppiness of Kilroy, Paxman and Buerke. His manipulation of language to word paint was perfect (we cannot forget the idea of a 'roboplaegic wrongcock' – a paedophile fitted with a robotised exoskeleton - or the image of an inner city that was described as: ‘Dante meets Bosch in a crack lounge’. There were many more excellent moments in this provocative and thoughtful series and it is well worth seeing it again in order for you to make your own mind up about the issues it raised. Take a good look, you will never see anything this explosively caustic again. Goodnight.
Brass Eye has always been too much for most of the public and celebrities to handle. Mainly because it shows them up for the hypocrites they are. But the pedophile one didn’t quite work for me and crossed the line of decency. Chris Morris had a big reputation from his sixth form days off being OTT and doesn’t care how offensive his comedy is. If they will run it, he will write it. Most of the excellent re-runs are gratingly funny and were well worth the re-runs. Slotting this one in at the climate off Big Brother was more about the failing voyeur shows ratings rather than intimidation. C4 has had massive publicity during the climax of both shows and have recouped some serious revenue from the not so popular BB2. The controversial episode didn’t quite work for me when he tricked celebrities like Seb Coe and Philly Forester. These guys are not the type to do tacky TV for a couple of quid and perhaps were duped into an obvious charity exercise. They probably innocently read q-cards in one take and jumped on the tube with out thinking about it. What type of person would do over wise, well you know the answer to that one folks. Normally the show dupes aimless C list drongo celebes like Edmonds and Feltzs to look complete knobs. As if we need a pointer. These show biz mercenaries will do anything for money and are great to laugh at when they are explaining “Heavy electricity” The Cake episode showed up a lot of greedy politician’s and from that point on it was the end of the format for the sumptuously ghastly Morris. Most pedophiles are in the family and usually are the ones trying to brick out innocent people on sink estates. This issue is never raised in the media, as “Pedos” always seem to be hedge lurkers rather than head teachers. The amount of preteens disappearing or being abducted has not changed over the years. Press and Media barons whip up paranoia and hysteria over t
he summer recess of parliament the moment someone has gone missing. This years abducted has been disappointedly old for the shock season and has evaporated from the news. That’s how much they care about 15 year old Essex school girls. If it had been another Saran Paine with mildly looking shifty parents it would have run and run. Morris and Channel Four certainly didn’t set out to highlight the very paranoia that they knew the show would kick up. They set out to make money and upset the usual wallies that pick up the phone. Wheres as Bernard Manning’s humor is frowned upon because of its racism and taboo, Morris version is obviously more sophisticated but it tells it like we really think, and are afraid to say like big Bernard. And for that to make us laugh, it’s got to be near the knuckle. Firing the notorious Sydney Cook into space, but accidentally with an 8-year-old child on board is brutally funny. But did it cross the line. With uncensored Internet TV all most on us. Anything will go and probably our morals with it. The start time for the Eye is suitably late to deter any six-year-olds from accidentally seeing it. The show is aimed at intelligent people who like either humor sharp. Not sandal wearing types that eat Tofu and do Yoga who can’t laugh at anything. The morons that sit through and then complain are the same as the self-righteous idiots who protetest against the IMF around the world to meet girls rather than save the worlds oppressed. The bulk of the shows watchers enjoyed it and most of the ones that complained to. The Day to Day which Chris Morris was also excellent and less offensive. Why don’t they bring back that show instead of going over the top with episodes like this one just to be C4 controversial and snare revenue.
Yes, here's a novelty, someone expressing an opinion who has actually seen the show! Not that I'm the sort of person to let informed debate get in the way of a good wholesome middle england uproar but is anyone else amazed by the ill-considered, poorly judged and downright stupid opinions that have been flying around over the last couple of days? Only 1.5 million people actually watched the programme but about ten times that number seem outraged by it. Yesterday we had three ministers express disgust, one of whom is presently abroad and none of whom actually saw the programme. Then we had the Daily Mail spouting its usually claptrap and hey presto we have a national debate! Well I actually did see the show and I admit a lot of it does make uncomfortable viewing. This is not because it trivialises paedophilia or that it sympathises with paedophiles, it hammers its message home with quite aggressive imagery but its message has nothing to do with paedophiles or the victims of paedophilia. As with all jokes it is important to focus on the target of the joke. In this cases the target is NOT paedophilia. It is the media and us the general public. Brass Eye satirised our approach to this difficult subject and the way the media stirs up hysteria leading to the disgraceful displays of vigilantism that we saw following the News of the World's publication of a paedophile list. My problem with the show was that it was so determined to hammer this valuable message home, it didn't concetrate on putting very many good jokes in, but there were some and they were funny. Yes, I said it! There were funny jokes in this programme, I am not ashamed to say that or to laugh because victims of paedophiles weren't the butt of the joke. You can say some of this may have been a little distasteful, or maybe unfunny but at its core it remained humane and suprisingly sensitive, but not to the target of its joke. In
the end the show proved to be right. We cannot debate this subject sensibly in this country when we have moronic writers of the Daily Mail, or ministers jumping up and down in fury, when anyone attempts to examine our reaction and the media's reporting of paedophilia. So we proved Brass Eye right, well not entirely. I was relieved to see that pretty much all the national newspapers defended Brass Eye's position, even the Sun, except for the Daily Mail which interesting in its letters page did not contain one letter from a reader supporting their position. I was also pleased to hear that on Radio 4's today programme letters of support were also read out. So maybe we aren't all reactionary idiots, may there is hope. I would urge further ambitious and daring programming and yes some will offend, and I hope some will make us think but above all we don't want to go down the censorship road. As soon as we have the likes of the Daily Mail telling us what we can and can't watch then we know we're in trouble. In the end we have a little personal censor in our own living rooms. It is called the remote control.
I sat watching Big Brother last week, it was getting near the end and was really rather good. When it finished I decided I was about to go back online when I heard the announcer mention a Brass Eye Special. Great, I thought to myself, that shows worth watching because it's funny. I remember once they did one on heavy electricity, falling off wires and hitting people on the head! It's the kind of show that if you didn't know was a joke, and you came in half way through, could be real. A spoof documentary is the word I am looking for. So after waiting about 5 minutes for it to start, I must say I was a little shocked to see the topic of the show, Paedophilia. But then everyone MUST know that by now. It's caused such a fuss, a national outrage some would say. The repeat has been pulled from E4 after people were angry that a repeat was shown on Channel 4. Of course my mother, who had also watching big brother happened to be in the room at the time. She heard that p word, told me she didn't think it was a suitable topic for a comedy show and went to bed, seeing no more than the first minute of the show. Yet to this day she maintains that the show was bad. She didn't watch it, she just jumped on the moralistic media bandwagon. And everyone else did too, including all the do-gooder politicians. They totally missed the WHOLE POINT of the show, but they don't care about that because the show was about paedophilia. At the last count apparently 4000 people had phoned in to complain about the show. I did my A-level maths and hopefully will get a decent result (August 16th - AGGGHH), so lets put it to some use. I haven't got a clue as to the population of the country, but lets estimate it as around 60 million (60,000,000). A quick bashing of buttons on a calculator reveals that to be a staggering 0.0067% of the country. They want this show banned? Because so many people complained? Yes, look at the percentage - everyone certain
ly wants the show banned! OK, so using the figure for the whole population was a bit optimistic. How many people actually watched the show? It was on twice, and I certainly think the re-run would have attracted more viewers because of peoples reaction to the original show, but then it was on Channel 4 though, so they don't get the biggest viewing figures. At a rough guestimate lets call it 3 million people. 4000 people of 3 million works out at a mind boggling 0.13%, and that's from people who saw the show. Pretty darn small amounts if you ask me. But it's the politicians you see. They want to match the feeling of the people, they think they'll get more votes if they do! How many of them actually care about the show? How many politicians even WATCHED the show? About none I would say, at a guess. So anyway, back to the show itself. What about it was, and why did it cause so much anger? Frankly, it was a spoof documentary about paedophilia. There were presenters in a studio, there were reports about paedophiles, and it was all very funny! If the show had simply made a joke out of paedophilia on the whole, then it would have been bad, but that was not the goal of the show, it tried to take the pi*s out of the way the media handle paedophilia. And heck, judging by the reaction it worked!! Making fun of children abused by paedophiles is not funny, making fun of paedophilia on the whole is not funny, but what Brass Eye did was funny. It was so blatantly over the top, and forgive me, but do celebrities have any brains? For those people who don't know, a number of prominent celebrities featured on the show, and in their minds they were doing a serious documentary. But they were talking about an internet came called HOACS, in which paedophiles turned the eyes of a dog (on the PC screen) in to a web cam to spy on children, oh yes, and that was before the keyboard that released 'suggestive' gases, and the girl wh
o got stuck in the internet for a night. One of these celebrities features on Tomorrow?s World, obviously not on her intellectual merit! The writer of the show didn't mean for it to turn in to a national debate, but he did want to bring to light the currently 'taboo' subject of paedophilia. He has achieved this, although people seem to talking more about the censorship laws than the actual issues the program raised. But one thing is for sure, this show DID NOT make fun of children being abused by paedophile, so all you moaning gets out there shut up and actually watch the thing before jumping on the bandwagon. If you watched it and don't like it then fair enough. For everyone who wants the show banned ? what?s to stop you turning the TV over. The Brass Eye is primarily a comedy show, but one that carries a deeper meaning, at least in the last show - don't join the gang who think that the p word is bad, and anything that mentions it should be banned. I thought it was funny!
To take a stand Chris Morris would want to adopt, if there wasn’t so much hatred towards him, would be that the paedophilia show was ‘definitely about laughing at children getting molestered’ (made up quote). Of course this is irony (it needs to be stated before I receive hate mail) ‘cos no part of the program was advocating or making light of child abuse, it is instead acting on the media which sensationalises it’s subject matter in order to get viewers and evoke hysteria. The most disappointing thing is that you do not even have to read between the lines to receive the programs message, it’s stated to you a number of times. The female reporter admits the footage is hard to watch but they will show it anyway. And the paedophile in the stocks scene is spelt out for you, not only is there the witch-hunt imagery but also the reporter does not listen to what is said but instead has already chosen what he wants (and the audience wants) to hear. No matter the response of the paedophile the reporter (a representation of the media) was going to hear the words ‘I’m a pervert.’ This scene caused a lot of offence for in the scene a boy is paraded in front of the paedophile. But this in many ways is what tabloids do, it uses a mixture of emotive language and innocent imagery in order to direct the audience into hatred and sell more copies, claiming it’s ‘the people’s paper.’ Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to molly coddle paedophiles. As everyone, I feel very strongly against it, but brass eye was about attacking the media (which may explain the hate articles in the Mirror). I felt in many ways this show was a hit back for anyone who has some independent thought. Last year I found the images of violent crowds with their own self-righteousness, very disturbing. It seemed like a culture of mob rule and violent retribution was emerging which can only degrade a co
untry. This program attacks them in many ways, not only directly, the wicker man scene where they burn a paedophile or the way they attack the innocent ‘peter file,’ but also the group of people who are violent are the same sort who would not appreciate the finer message of the piece. Sentationalism is best shown in the scene where a paedophile abducts a boy. They freeze-frame and the camera swirls round with heavy music. Almost like Guy Ritchie had shot the whole scene himself. Oh, and the duped celebrities are brilliant. Clearly they had the right intentions but they did not give useful information. Instead giving what people want to hear, like beating the brains of Pantuo the dog. It’s sad that they are ridiculed like this but they are trying to use their limited amount of notoriety to not only get a message across but also to put their face infront of the camera for a few moments. There were though problems to the show. At times the jokes ran thin and sometimes it was not astute enough to really entertain in the way that the finest satires, like the ‘Cake’ Brass Eye episode, can. But it was not only interesting but it was very funny as well. JLB8 (JailBait), a rapper who sings of paedophilia brings many laughs and criticises the media backlash to Eminem and also how Eminem uses vice, sin and explicitness to sell records. Also the scene of sex with the 10-year-old girl was very funny. They made it erotic by explaining that for the purposes of the reconstruction she was to be played by a 25-year-old woman, they even included soft saxophone music in the background. By making it erotic it shows just how leech like the media can be. Attacking vices in shows yet the vice is what pulls people in, this is in many ways what channel 4 did by repeating the show, despite all the bad publicity with it. Ultimately I feel the show did a lot of good. It brings up a very interesting debate which owes more de
pth to it then ‘It is wrong, find the nonce, bash him in.’ It certainly opened my eyes to the politics around paedophilia but at no point do I now believe that sex with children is a bit more acceptable. The difference is now I will not turn so adversely against any conversation on it. My title ‘The right end of the schtick,’ was chosen because of the tabloid (and government) backlash to the show, compared against the more informed papers approval of it. This reaction was all meant to have happened. To show us the state of hysteria and sensationalism that the tabloids have produced around the subject. But anyway, forget all the debate and simply remember the useful advice that Dr Fox gave us. About paedophiles having more genetically in common with crabs than you or I as “there’s no real evidence for it, but it’s a scientific fact.”
In the week that saw the finales of 'Big Brother' and 'Survivor', a one-off late night comedy programme on Channel 4 arguably stole the show. 'Brass Eye' and its creator, the reclusive Chris Morris, have been pummeled in the media for the episode which aired on 26/7/01, which concerned issues relating to paedophilia. 'Brass Eye' initially ran for 6 shows on Channel 4 in 1997. Although the humour was in the same vein as Morris's earlier creation 'The Day Today', it pushed the barriers of TV much further, and the show was often subject to controversy. The programme was a series of spoof documentaries on contemporary issues, such as aminal cruelty and crime. It featured the duping of Z-list celebrities to appear on the programme pledging their support to riduculous schemes and campaigns, having obviously not researched into them at all. The idea was to show that celebrities really don't have a clue what they are talking about, even when they appear sincere and caring on camera. Perhaps the most famous episode concerned the fake drug 'Cake'. The effect of the programme was so severe, that questions were asked in the House of Commons about what can be done to stop the drug from coming over to this country. Perhaps some research should have been undertaken by the MP in question first... Celebrities featured included Jenny Powell (asking people to bang on their water pipes to stop 'heavy electricity' falling from the sky and killing people) and Carla Lane (who was encouraged people to protest against the treatment of an animal who had apparently started to ingest itself). It really did challenge the creditability and reliability of 'stars' whose relentless campaining had become a growing feature of 1990's TV. However, the new edition of 'Brass Eye' dealt with the most taboo of subjects; peadophilia. The media (with some notable exceptions, such as 'T
he Guardian') immediately picked up on the use of the topic within a comedy programme, and complained about the concept before the preview tapes had even been seen. The show wasn't actually about paedophilia, but about the reaction of the media to the subject whenever it is in the news. It was arguably showing what happens when important topics are trivialised by the press, who stir up the emotions of the masses with their sensationalist writings, influencing them to do things such as attacking the homes of paediatricians and other innocent parties. Selective education by the tabloids really does have an effect. The disgust shown by the press was probably the response that Morris wanted in any case. After all, it was the press (and media in general) who were the real targets of the show. However, several celebrities, including Richard Blackwood and DJ Neil Fox, tried to divert attention away from their public humiliation (they had been shown to say ridiculous things such as paedophiles having a similar genetic make-up to crabs) by condemning the show and that child abuse victims were the real victims of the show. Phillipa Forrester also proved right the thoery that maybe she wasn't quite the science boff that 'Tommorrow's World' made her out to be, by 'educating' people about the possibilities of paedophiles physically touching children through a computer screen. I think that the outrage that has been caused by the show just proves Morris's point that the media are far too easy to jump on the bandwagon of causes without really thinking through the consequences of their actions. The fact that there were so many complaints was arguably due to the fuss that it had created in the media, and I'm sure many people had made their minds up to complain before even watching the programme. The recent calls of MP's to look into the showing of the programme is another example of the nanny-state
interfering in deciding what viewers can and can't watch. It's amazing that a show like this (spoof, not showing any depictions of violence, well after the watershed and featuring warnings before the programme) can provoke such outrage when Hollywood Blockbusters broadcast at 9pm can show as many killings and as much blood as they like without even raising an eyebrow. Perhaps its high time that some sections of the media took a step back and re-evaluated what really is shocking; a programme showing the deficiencies of the media, or a media who can manipulate its readership to boost its profits, with the indirect effect of causing widespread havoc to innocent parties.