It’s time to go, smut

I haven’t been devastated by the news that Big Brother – Adults Only will join Doug Mulray’s Naughtiest Home Video Show in the dustbin of smutty television history after complaints by Coalition MPs. Since suffering through an episode last year about a man lighting his own farts, I’ve tended to view the show as the televisual equivalent of a lobotomy, except with a surgeon (Gretel Killeen) who didn’t want to be there.

Still, to paraphrase Voltaire, I do not agree with Adults Only, but will defend to the death Ten’s right to screen puerile trash. A member of the Coalition party room, according to The Age, described such programs as “crude, lewd little twerps bouncing around half-naked” in “material of mind-boggling banality”. True, but surely that’s an accurate summary of Ten’s entire line-up.

I wonder if this furore is just politicians taking revenge for Big Brother Up Late regularly outrating Order in the House. Footage of Parliament regularly contains more offensive language and puerile behaviour than Adults Only. It seems a bit rich for them to criticise others for polluting the airwaves.

But what really irritates me is that these MPs have boasted about putting pressure on Ten to axe Adults Only for more favourable treatment over the new media laws. Such far-reaching policies should be decided on the basis of long-term public interest, not trade-offs that allow wowsers to impose their tastes on the rest of us.

Barnaby Joyce is the last person (or perhaps second-last after Fred Nile) I want to decide what’s screened on television. And that’s why even though I dislike the show, I object to Ten giving in and axing it. What’s screened on television should reflect broader tastes than those of the Coalition party room. Otherwise we’ll be left watching Bradman documentaries and The Partridge Family.

Joyce asks how he’s supposed to explain scenes of simulated anal sex to his daughter. First, I think he should explain why she was watching an MA15+ rated program. More importantly, I’d much prefer his daughter to grow up learning that anal sex exists and is part of some adults’ lives than adopt her father’s head-in-the-sand attitude to gay marriage.

Given all the publicity, it’s impossible to argue that viewers masochistic enough to tune into Adults Only didn’t know what they were getting. This censorship by conservative politicians sets a worrying precedent. It’s a great shame our society is not grown up enough to allow mature audiences the right to watch shows that are as puerile as they like.

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