Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Franz Kafka Big Banned

The Times reports today that a comedy show, The Franz Kafka Big Band, has been pulled from BBC radio schedules for being too controversial.

Jokes about Israel and Palestine have been deemed 'inappropriate' - that weasel word which is now generally used to by-pass any real consideration or judgement of the issues - but the main cause for concern would seem to have been a joke about Rolf Harris drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

It's worth reflecting on the poor state of satirical comedy in the UK right now. It's fair to say, as we've noted here before, that an informal aspect of sharia law already effectively exists, in that Muhammad will almost certainly never again be depicted in a creative, artistic or even journalistic setting. But on a more fundamental level it's interesting that, at a time when the sources are so rich, never has satire been so absent.

A few years back there was talk of Spitting Image returning to television. The absurdities surrounding political correctness, for example, would alone have surely filled a whole series, but many commentators said that the show could not work anymore because, essentially, we were a) not angry enough with our politicians and b) the targets of monarchy, lords, church and establishment had been done to death. This later point is probably true, but it was also revealing. Generally the targets of satire have been on the Right. We accept this as natural, but there's actually nothing natural about it. When Blair and Labour are mocked now, it too is from a left-wing perspective. Your average Spitting Image writer or BBC satirist would find it difficult to bring him/herself to mock, say, multiculturalism, or excessive liberalism in the law, or the Black and Red alliance of the Left and Islam - all things just waiting to be satirised. Instead, they'd avoid these things out of cultural inhibition, but also increasingly out of good old-fashioned fear that the arrows might actually hit their targets. Such fear would be, unfortunately, increasingly understandable.

Satire had a mini golden age in the 80s and early 90s. Now, at a time when huge social problems and real political threats face us, it pulls its punches. And its radio shows.


dizzy said...

I always rember the two ladies in Spitting Image who used to say "It's poltiical correctness gone mad!". There were, at the time, meant to be mocking those who say that, how ironic that times should change to the point that the satirists join those they once satirised.

Anonymous said...

taken from the banned episode in question : http://rapidshare.de/files/30687302/fkbb_-_the_taleban_can.mp3

Anonymous said...

How about a bit of Rolf?