Tag Archives: Series

Offended By Spit

The truth about writing, especially comic writing, is that you’re always going to offend somebody. The trick is not to do it deliberately, but also, not to care when you do. Seinfeld’s The Boyfriend episode is a classic of the genre, mocking JFK assassination buffs (Stone’s JFK had just come out) with the spitting sequence. It caused such laughter in the studio audience they had to edit some of the laughter out, but still some folk were offended, and remain so. Like this commenter from a Seinfeld fan site I recently came across: 

There were lots of great elements in this show, but I found the JFK spoof material incredibly offensive. It’s one I always skip when I see it in syndication. It just seems like incredibly bad taste (way beyond Seinfeld bad taste) to be mocking the killing of an American president, especially one less than 40 years ago. I never, ever understood what was funny about those scenes.

I’m not saying such people are stupid to be offended, or too tightly coiled for Seinfeld. It’s just you always will offend people, whatever you write, but it shouldn’t stop you or alter your course. Fortunately for us, it didn’t stop Seinfeld.

Seinfeld: The Boyfriend – TV Squad

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Citizen Pundits

Forget citizen journalism. How about citizen punditry? An unnamed taxi driver IT specialist appeared on the BBC’s news 24 after being mistaken for his fare, technology pundit Guy Kewney. Despite the BBC’s apparent efforts to suppress the moment, the Daily Mail has recovered it, according to Guy himself, who is rightly highly amused that his face, and ethnicity, are not particularly well known to BBC staff. You can download the clip here.

As Guy says, “you can watch the classic moment, where the cab driver realises that he is on air, and being mistaken for someone else, here. It’s beyond classic: it’s priceless. Watch his incredible recovery, and his determination to show that this may be a complete surprise to him, but that he can out-Kewney any darned NewsWireless Editor if he has to.”

The Times reports that “it is not the first time that the BBC has been embarrassed by a case of mistaken identity. Last year Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of Wales, was mistaken for a cast member of Doctor Who when he was due to appear on the BBC Wales political show Dragon’s Eye.

Unfortunately the identity of the cabbie in question has not yet been established. He deserves a medal for his performance and to have his own show. I’m all in favour of this kind of thing. If only more television networks would take a broader, more inclusive view of what it means to be an “expert” we might all benefit.

[Update (thanks, Juha, for pointing out): The cabbie has been found, and he’s not a cabbie, but a data cleansing expert. Not such a good story as the original, but nice to get it right.]