Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Oh, come on all ye whiners, time to get a grip

Rejoice! One of my favourite times of the festive season is upon us. Ofcom's 'Most Complained About TV Moments' of 2013 has been released.

Oh, come all ye whiners and weepers. Non-joyful and not hugely triumphant. I am gleefully fixated with the phenomenon of taking offence and – the great prize of modern times – being granted an apology.

My Twitter feed is littered daily with mewling, jelly-elbowed clots demanding an apology over my – comparatively pedestrian – views on breastfeeding, fox-hunting, baby Jesus and Beyonce.

Some things I do feel require an apology: driving a combine harvester into the teddy-bears' picnic, embarrassing David Cameron by invading France, turning up drunk to a nativity service and drop-kicking a Tiny Tears into a Christmas tree.

One of the greatest causes for televisual offence this year was Lady Gaga's performance on X Factor, where she swirled around in those flesh-coloured support pants one buys from M&S.

The public were fuming. Livid. At what, it can't be clarified – this wasn't a terribly sexual performance. If people were offended, it was because they'd seen something that they didn't understand. Something edgy and avant-garde.

We trip over ourselves to apologise to these people at our peril. We chip away at our freedoms with every grovelling "no offence meant".

The list goes on. Lots of viewers were offended after tuning in to the bleak, bloody, upsetting coverage on ITV News after the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, only to find that it was bleak and bloody and upsetting.

Downton Abbey was reported to Ofcom 252 times for screening a storyline where a well-loved character was raped, in spite of the fact that the scene was flagged up loudly at the start of the show, in spite of the fact that Anna is not a real person and in spite of rape being a real peril to women in the serving classes during this era.

Real-life rape conviction rates are what are really offensive.

One small ray of hope in this story is that Ofcom rejected every single one of this year's top 10 most-complained-about TV moments.

No apologies, no inquests; the people from Ofcom, they don't give a damn.

And they are invited for Christmas dinner at my house. They rather sound like fun.

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