Helena Buchanan addresses Jo Brand and her rebuttal of sexism in the media industry.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of Have I got News for You. In the past few years this has (sort of) increased because (pat on the back to British TV) every week of the five guests one or (good god and heaven preserve us) two are women. Yes, it is still a minority, and yes, the panel is still predominantly white, but I think we had all hoped that these were steps in the right direction.
The episode airing on the 3rd November highlighted how horrifyingly little comedy has progressed, giving us a taste of what it would be like if quotas demanding representation did not exist.
We have been living in a time where men’s appalling misconduct in the media industry has been dragged out into an appropriately brutal light. But this is the show of the lefty liberal elite. Surely - SURELY - we can demand more.
More, at least, than what we saw on Friday night, namely men joking about women overreacting to low level sexual harassment. For a few, long, and awful moments they carried on uninterrupted, until angel (or, morally and socially aware person with an iota of empathy) Joe Brand stepped in and smacked them down.
This is the show of the lefty liberal elite. Surely - SURELY - we can demand more.
“It doesn’t have to be high level (crime) for women to feel under-siege in somewhere like the house of commons”
One of the worst things about this was the men’s reactions. Ian Hislop, who I used to wish would be my grand-father, gave a deeply condescending performance of leaning in and listening to Brand’s response. No, Hislop, it is not necessary to lie across your desk to prove that you are listening to what a woman has to say… you could just listen.
It is hard to establish whether they had been told by the producers to try to make a joke out of this story: if so, that seems a disgustingly jaded way to gain cheap laughs. The other worrying facet was the response to the audience. Though they cheered Brand’s response, they also laughed at the crude jokes preceding, including the comment that the lib-dems can’t drum up “a decent gang of sex offenders”. Yes, I know the crux of the joke is the lack of Lib-dems, but carrying the joke is the ha-ha-ong-so-funny idea of sexual harassment.
I don’t have enough of a sense of humour about this. But I really don’t think I need to.
You’re right. I don’t have enough of a sense of humour about this. But I really don’t think I need to. Having a sense of humour about this means supporting the pillars of the patriarchy, rather than trying to pull them out from under the feet of old white men. I am trying to think about how many times I have been on each side of the “having a sense of humour” line: the side where that means making a joke, or the side where that means taking it.