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TV Spoof On Bullying Sparks Protest In Australia

by Gopalan on August 22, 2009 at 1:39 PM
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 TV Spoof On Bullying Sparks Protest In Australia

A comic take making light of bullying in schools has drawn the ire of parent groups, but producer insists that he didn't do anything wrong.

The episode of Channel 7 sketch show Double Take featured a spoof advertisement for a fictional private school that boasts "the best bullies money can buy" along with scenes of a boy being strangled, having his lunch smeared in his face and being cyber bullied. As a child reads a message on a laptop saying "After school you di,e" a voiceover boasts the school supplies every one of its bullies with their own broadband account with cyber bullying "no longer just a dream but an appalling everyday reality."

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"Here at St Fillmore's our school bullies have gone on to successful careers as CEOs, professional football players and chief parking inspectors," the voiceover says. "While our victims have mostly gone on to top themselves."

The spoof advertisement on Channel 7 comes amid growing concerns after a series of teen suicides.

The episode was aired before yesterday's decision to extend a court order banning the Nine Network from airing a 60 Minutes segment on teenage suicide until Monday, Gareth Trickey and Sarah Wotherspoon reported for Herald Sun.
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Members of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation for keeping children safe from violence said the skit trivialised the nature of bullying and the devastating effect of cyber bullying.

"Bullying is a form of aggression, involving the abuse of power in relationships," a statement from the foundation read.

"In some cases, young people have committed suicide as a result of bullying.

"The media are in a position of power and can help reinforce the kinds of positive attitudes and behaviours we all want to see within our community to reduce violence including bullying and cyber bullying.

"In this case the media abrogated their responsibility as well as their fundamental duty of care to young people and their families within our communities."

Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg also slammed the bullying jokes.

Dr Carr-Gregg said the skit plumbed new depths of insensitivity and tastelessness.

"I think Australians are getting sick and tired of comedians joking about things that are really not funny."

Dr Carr-Gregg said the show should issue an apology.

"I really don't think this is the sort of material that should be broadcast at any time," he said.

However, the creator and executive producer of Double Take, David McDonald, was unrepentant and insisted said the aim of satire was to "draw attention to serious matters through humour."

"If the consequence of a particular sketch is community discussion then this can be a positive thing," he said.



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