Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Not in front of the children

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  • Andre Alessi,

    I'm having a hard time keeping up with when I should be shocked and outraged, and when I should be decrying the PC nanny state. Could someone help me out?

    Also, via Balloon Juice, here's another way people can make idiots of themselves. Mark my words, it's only a matter of time before the Herald editorials start declaring that Christmas should indeed be about Jesus and retailers should emphasise that.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 846 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    The Downstage item led EVERY bulletin on Morning Report from 6:00 onwards - more of a beat-up over nothing I haven't seen in a long time. One F-word, one "bullshit", one "slapstick-style simulated orgasm" (whatever the hell THAT is) in an hour-long performance.

    They interviewed the Director of CYS who'd taken hios own kids to see it, and he was trying to concentrate on teh pleasure the kids got from just being somewhere they may never have been before and seeing something they may never have seen before, but kept having to answer inane questions about "appropriateness". not Morning Report's finest hour by a long shot.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    Henry called one of Tiger Woods' alleged sexual partners a "cheap ... slapper" today. I think Pippa Wetzell demurred but why oh why didn't she remonstrate with him more strongly and why do she and Alison Mau sit there and smile through his insults.

    I quite enjoy the dynamics of Breakfast (hate to admit it) but I think Henry could be taught about sensitivity to the feelings of groups to which he doesn't belong.

    He also slagged off an actress who has just announced her lesbian status. It's a wonder he hasn't insulted Tamati yet.

    Hypocritical of me because I watch it but I was disappointed that a smiling David Slack appeared on the programme last week.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 506 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    I don't even recall the swear word in An Adagio Christmas, and while there was a subtle sensual overtone to parts of it, there was nothing at all x-rated, r-rated or even pg-rated.

    Kids will love the show. It is loads of fun.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    On the Paul Henry thingy, I've picked up on an idea from PAS's own Craig Ranapia, and got together some info on how people can pressure Breakfast's main advertisers. Please do give it a go, if you too are concerned about Henry's behaviour, it will only take you about two minutes, and the more people who do it the more likely success becomes!

    It's a low risk strategy - the worst that can happen is we still have Paul Henry on Breakfast being the way he is now. The only way is up!

    Orcland • Since Dec 2007 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    At bottom, though, the issue with Paul Henry isn't his choice of words, but the attitude he expresses with them.

    He could use the most decorous language possible, but he'd still be a sneering eejit who goes for the cheap laughs -- just less oafish and more polished.

    It's as though someone told Henry about comedy afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, and he went "oh, they must have mixed that up."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    I was disappointed that a smiling David Slack appeared on the programme last week.

    I'm disappointed if the impression I conveyed was that I didn't disapprove of what he'd said. I was trying to provide an opportunity for him to mend bridges. I did make the argument that we should mock the powerful, not the vulnerable.

    One thing, though. It seems to be generally believed that he used the word 'retard'. In fact, I don't believe he did. He mocked the fact that Susan Boyle was 'mildly retarded'. Bad enough, you may well say, but I think we need to get the charge sheet right.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Bad enough, you may well say

    .

    Actually, I think it's worse. Slinging the word "retard" around is one thing, actually pointing to someone who has problems and inviting people to laugh at those problems is just nasty. As my mother would have said, he is a nasty little man.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the Orcon Great Blend on Friday night (and I regard just turning up and having a good time as a contribution).

    Thanks, yourself - and others, no doubt - for organising it.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    One thing, though. It seems to be generally believed that he used the word 'retard'. In fact, I don't believe he did. He mocked the fact that Susan Boyle was 'mildly retarded'. Bad enough, you may well say, but I think we need to get the charge sheet right.

    Fair enough. Although even the word "retarded" is a very loaded one these days. It didn't seem accidental to me that he passed over the term everyone else had been using -- "learning disability" -- in favour of the nastier "retarded".

    The other thing about Henry is that he generally seems to reserve these moments for women. Witness this morning's "cheap slapper" comment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Palmer,

    Unless Paul Henry paraphrased himself at another point in his programme, what he actually said was that Susan Boyle was"retarded", not that she was "a retard". There is a significant difference; the first usage derives from an attempt to express disability in terms of a flawed developmental model, the second is a stigmatisation. If people are dealing with which words are offensive, they should be precise, or else they fall into the same trap as those who banned the word "niggardly".

    I am not, however, prepared to cut Henry any slack over his remarks. He did follow up by claiming that one can tell that she's retarded just by looking at her, look at her closely, etc. This is direct stigmatisation.

    The larger question is why any of this is on television in the first place. Why are we expected to spend breakfast looking at presenters? Why not scientists or educators? Or a soap opera? Why should we be noting Clayton Weatherstone's remarks when he was only discussing someone in the terms that economists discuss the luckless victims of their policies every day, whose forced circumstances magically become their optimal and efficient economic choices? Sure, he's a monster. But economists are monstrous, and that never gets on television.

    Since Nov 2006 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    You know, you can go about Paul Henry all day, but it wouldn't make any difference to him. He is an arrogant and nasty man who feels he is above ever having to say sorry and Christ like in his belief that he is above ever actually regretting anything he said.

    I am more saddened by the complete loss of moral compass by his employer, TVNZ. It appears you can get away with just about anything as long as it delivers a few precious ratings points to your handlers in TVNZ management.

    Paul Henry is allowed by choices made by his bosses to be the misogynist bully he is. It is his handlers and enablers who stand the most condemned.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1738 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Palmer,

    oops, I see someone has already covered my point about retarded.

    Since Nov 2006 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Unless Paul Henry paraphrased himself at another point in his programme, what he actually said was that Susan Boyle was"retarded", not that she was "a retard". There is a significant difference; the first usage derives from an attempt to express disability in terms of a flawed developmental model, the second is a stigmatisation.

    Yes and no. I think you'll find that a great many people, especially in the disability sector, find "retard" and "retarded" equally stigmatising.

    OTOH, I don't jump down my kid's throat if he uses "retarded" in a different context.

    If people are dealing with which words are offensive, they should be precise, or else they fall into the same trap as those who banned the word "niggardly"

    People who object to the word "niggardly" simply don't have a proper grasp of English; that's not quite the same thing as objecting to a word that carries genuinely unpleasant baggage.

    But I think the point we're all getting to is that it's not so much the words as the context in which they're used.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    complete loss of moral compass by his employer

    snort

    You do realise the only thing his employer cares about is ratings and he just guaranteed them a bigger audience. he'll probably get a bonus.

    And as for why the ladies on the show tolerate him - um they are paid to sit there and smile and take whatever he gives them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3209 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    You do realise the only thing his employer cares about is ratings and he just guaranteed them a bigger audience.

    Ummm... I would have thought this statement was implicit in my comment?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1738 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    A user interface might be described as "retarded" -- but never, so far as I can recall, an actual person.

    I'm normally a big proponent of focussing on intent - I hate when people get worked up by a comment when clearly the intent they are inferring wasn't there.
    But the use of "that's soooo gay" tends to raise my hackles - 9 times out 10 the intent is benign, but the use of the term to describe something bad/substandard/undesirable is coming from a pretty poor and recent history. I kinda put retarded in the same bucket.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1717 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    I did make the argument that we should mock the powerful, not the vulnerable.

    You did indeed and I liked that but you appeared on his show and you were gentle on him. David, I don't know you but you seem to exude kindliness and humanity. So does Pippa Wetzell. Why don't you people just tell him where to get off?

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 506 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I imagine that it would be expensive to break Henry's contract, and so TVNZ are stuck with defending him.

    TVNZ put a lot of effort into creating celebrities -- now they have to wear the consequences. Maybe if they invested less in personality cults and more in, you know, journalism and research and writing and shit, we would all be better off.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Palmer,

    I think you'll find that a great many people, especially in the disability sector, find "retard" and "retarded" equally stigmatising.

    Yes, that is the official position. But you don't jump down your kids' throat for saying a computer interface is retarded; I'm guessing you would if he said the interface was "for retards", or "by retards".

    I don't use either term but I don't like the alternatives either. I wouldn't be able to say someone had a learning disability unless I knew what their learning experience actually was. There is too much presumption that school today is a perfect learning environment where inability to achieve is the symptom of a personal flaw. Some schools might be, but I distrust the presumption. And a few years ago, "disability" was itself a shunned word.

    Since Nov 2006 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Despite the fact that 80% of Aucklanders abhor alliteration I have to say that I find Henry haranguing helpless Highlanders hopelessly horrid. In yesterdays Sunday Star Times there is a picture of Paul looking like a loopy Lupine loony lamely laughing, if it were radio he would be losing loads of loyal listeners, as it is it is a tragic televisual travesty of tumultuous temerity. The man is a follicly failing four eyed fool of fathomless fatuousness Before he righteously regales recipients of his ridiculous rotten rubbish he should resign, the man is a Retread.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I imagine that it would be expensive to break Henry's contract, and so TVNZ are stuck with defending him.

    TVNZ put a lot of effort into creating celebrities -- now they have to wear the consequences. Maybe if they invested less in personality cults and more in, you know, journalism and research and writing and shit, we would all be better off.

    It'd be remarkable if TCNZ didn't know what they were getting themselves into, given that everyone else was aware of exactly what Henry was like before he was signed up (the Listener even did a puff piece on him prior to the start of his run, IIRC.)

    They were looking for the new Paul Holmes, and Michael Laws was too busy mayoring and demanding lebensraum for der volk to get up at 5 am every day.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 846 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I don't use either term but I don't like the alternatives either. I wouldn't be able to say someone had a learning disability unless I knew what their learning experience actually was.

    That has been covered in a great many stories though, and in the book that Henry was holding in his hands. I don't think it's necessary to personally view her school reports to accept that she had learning difficulties.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You did indeed and I liked that but you appeared on his show and you were gentle on him. David, I don't know you but you seem to exude kindliness and humanity. So does Pippa Wetzell. Why don't you people just tell him where to get off?

    I'm sure David doesn't need me to defend his honour, but you know what that does? It just enables Henry, by offering him another chance to bleat about how he's a victim of the PC thought police who just need to toughen up and get a sense of humour. And it's not Pippa Wetzel or Alison Mau's responsibility to do the bloody producers' job for them.

    As Julie alluded to up thread, my suggestion is that you bypass Henry's ego entirely, and speak to TVNZ in the only language they seem to understand -- politely explain to them why you're not going to reward Henry's infantile attention whoring with your eyeballs... or patronise Breakfast's advertisers. His free speech operates in a free (and intensively competitive) marketplace, and you're not obliged to enable or subsidise his idiocy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11781 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    On the Paul Henry thingy, I've picked up on an idea from PAS's own Craig Ranapia, and got together some info on how people can pressure Breakfast's main advertisers. Please do give it a go

    Done - thanks for providing the addresses and the template email, which I dressed up a bit. Added this in too to reflect where I think responsibility also lies:

    I personally think that Henry's on-air behaviour reflects poorly upon TVNZ, and inevitably upon Breakfast's sponsors also, including your company. I am sure that Heritage Hotels does not wish to pay good money for brand promotion in the current business climate, only to have its reputation sullied on an ongoing basis because TVNZ cannot or will not rein in grossly inappropriate behaviour by its hosts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

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