Julian Morrow’s Outraged Audiences
In a whiplash move, Ray Martin’s 2008 Andrew Olle Media Lecture was followed last Sunday by an insightful and regularly hilarious effort from co-founder and executive producer of The Chaser, Julian Morrow.
Across the three-quarters of an hour, Morrow presented a gripping argument for not succumbing to the moral panics that regularly subsume the media and often go so far as to invoke the Prime Minister’s ire about shock jocks, satirists and artists.
Morrow had a noble crack at Mr Rudd for offering his unsolicited opinion, finding the practice “…not very Prime Ministerial”. But his main argument proposed that Kev is merely one part of an entirely unintended audience for edgy, often distasteful “entertainment”.
Morrow explained that there are two audiences present in any “public outrage” over media misjudgements. The primary audience consists of the small segment of the population that actually witnesses the contentious material first hand. It would be very difficult to find those among your friends who actually saw the “revolting” (according to Rudd) Henson photographs or heard the “wrong” (again, according to Rudd) rape confession on Kyle and Jackie O’s radio show.
Morrow contends that this primary audience is very closely aligned to the target audience of the entertainment in question. Thus, most of this audience know what they’re in for and complaints are minimal or at least tempered. The original hubbub over The Chaser’s ‘Eulogy Song’ consisted of nine complaints. But the moment it spread to the internet, talkback radio, network television and the newspapers, it attracted the secondary audience. This was the audience that shot the complaint tally into the hundreds, even though, as Morrow noted, many hadn’t even heard the offending song.
So in calling upon the media to continue producing daring content, Morrow urged producers to see this secondary audience for what it really is: a squad of easily baited wowsers poised to take offence. Tabloids, morning TV shows and shock jocks rile them up and revel in the resulting shitstorm. And a free press shouldn’t kowtow to these nattering nabobs.
There’s much more to be heard and chuckled over in the lecture, including his relief at The Chaser being sin-binned after the hugely controversial ‘Make A Realistic Wish Foundation’ sketch and his distinctly selective apology for it. Below is an edited version of the 50-minute lecture but you can read or listen to the entire thing here.
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