This season The Gruen Transfer has lost a little of its sheen, not so much from audience figures, but from the honeymoon it had in its first season with word of mouth.
The ABC has been forced to dump a clip from tonight’s show which joked about the Holocaust, Jews, black people and homosexuals.
ABC lawyers stepped in and canned half of the segment in which two ad agencies compete to sell the unsellable: obesity. The part of the segment made by Sydney agency, The Foundry, was found to be racist and discriminatory, and will not go to air to tonight.
The Foundry’s entry – which was judged to breach ABC editorial standards – sold the idea of “fat pride” by saying that if it was offensive to make jokes about “blacks, poofters, Jews” then why should it be acceptable to make jokes about “fat people”.
The program’s production company, Andrew Denton’s Zapruder’s Other Films, said the finished ad did not reflect the content of the script which it had approved three weeks before it was filmed.
When the ad was aired in front of a studio audience a month ago it went down “like a lead balloon”, according to one ad agency executive present. “There wasn’t even nervous laughter,” he said.
Last night the director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, said: “When we viewed this particular pitch we felt that some of our viewers could be offended by it and find it insensitive and in some cases quite hurtful. We believe it’s possible to tackle difficult issues such as discrimination through humour or satire in ways which can be controversial, confronting and challenging. However, doing so is difficult and we believe this piece of work missed its mark.”
Last year it was only New Zealand that got angry over the show. This year, the list has been growing. Recently there was criticism over conflict of interest claims about an ad for Adults Surviving Child Abuse.
Actors on one messageboard were singularly unimpressed with another segment that seemed to take great delight in attacking the acting skills of Aussie actors in advertisements, while saying nothing of the writers who wrote the material they were forced to perform.
Another fake ad had footage of British police clashing with rioters to the comic soundtrack of Benny Hill, in the same month that a protester died after being shoved over by a policeman at the G20 protests in London.
The show has its final episode of the season next week.