Peter Lord of Christchurch complained about a programme called Amazon with Bruce Parry broadcast on Prime TV, owned by Sky Television, at 7.30pm on Friday 26 June 2009. The series looked at the Amazon region, including people, their culture and things like environmental issues.
The BSA described the episode this way:
“During the episode subject to complaint, Bruce Parry visited one of the largest illegal gold mining sites in Brazil. While there, he visited a group of men who had dug a horizontal mine shaft 60 metres into the side of a hill. Mr Parry was invited to go into the mine shaft to take a look. When he reached the end of the shaft, Mr Parry was given a pick axe and he began to chip away at the face of the tunnel. As he did this, he accidentally struck one of the overhead support beams moving it out of place. Startled, Mr Parry said, “Fuck, [laughing] you don’t want to be knocking them down too often”, before continuing to chip away.”
Peter Lord complained that, being broadcast before 8:30pm, the programme breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) and Standard 9 (children’s interests) because Sky Television, which owns Prime, allegedly “did not adequately consider the interests of child viewers”.
The BSA upheld the complaint (Decision No: 2009-137), but ordered no action (like a fine or on-air apology). Personally, I think the BSA got it wrong and both it and Peter Lord in particular were way oversensitive: Context matters, and there was nothing offensive or gratuitous about the use of the word in context.
But the real reason I read the decision was to see how many times a government agency could use the word “fuck” in an official document. I have just enough of a 12-year-old’s mind left (in a jar on my desk, to borrow freely from Stephen King) that I snicker at such things. That’s why I find it so funny that the far-right in America decided to call themselves “teabaggers” and declared they’d “teabag the Congress”. I laugh because it’s funny to my remaining adolescent brain cells.
So, while the decision may be silly, my adolescent fascination with a government document using “fuck” repeatedly beats it in the silliness department.
And sometimes, we all need a little silliness.