Posted on Thursday 21st April, 2011
I've been reflecting, of late, on that wonderful personage known as Frankie Boyle and the material that he laughingly calls comedy.
What Frankie and his team - believe me, there's always a team behind mediocre talent like Boyle's - probably had an 'ideas' meeting that went something like this:
"So how can we get more people to complain about our material and loads of free publicity then?"
"What about taking the piss out of Stephen Hawking?"
"Nah, it's been done to death."
"What about having a go at Jordan's kid, the wee blind laddie?"
"That's sick, you really can't do that...can you?"
"Well it would certainly get Ofcom's attention and get us all over the media."
And so, and so on.
But there is something very pernicious in all of this: a couple of years ago I investigated some horrendous hate crimes perpetrated against disabled people. The woman who was urinated upon, sprayed with shaving foam and filmed on mobile phones as she lay dying in the street for example. The young man who was imprisoned and systematically starved and tortured while being kept in a garden shed by his 'friends'. The young man who was hounded by a group of youths on a housing estate in the North East of England and who was kicked and punched to death.
All of these people have one thing in common: they are different and they are victimised for being different. The likes of Boyle serve only to legitimise the actions of morons who are probably the only people to find his material remotely humourous. As my good friend and fellow thalidomider, Mat Fraser, would say:
"Such people are merely scraping the barrel of their own mediocrity."
But they're doing much more than that. They are lighting a blue touch paper that results in lives being lost or torn apart. And people such as Boyle - like bullies everywhere - choose their target very carefully: as the formidable Steve Coogan reminded the Top Gear boys recently, having a go at Mexicans is easy, tired and rather lazy.
Genuine humour - the type that wins awards all over the world and has made this country something of a brand leader - is not hard to come by. So I'm slightly perplexed as to why anyone at Channel 4, the BBC or anywhere else for that matter might be tempted to commission substandard material from people who would do anything - literally anything - for a cheap laugh. And they think Katie Price is a publicity-hungry media tart!