The story goes like this: An Australian radio show calls up a British hospital because they hear that Kate Middleton has been admitted with a severe case of morning sickness. The Australian DJs impersonate the Queen and her husband (I believe) and tell the phone operator that they, “want to check on Kate’s status.” An unknowing nurse puts the call through to another nurse. The second nurse gives confidential medical information to a radio show impersonating the queen. The story doesn’t end there, however. Days later, nurse #1 COMMITS SUICIDE.
It’s a sad tale. It has also got me thinking.
Are we too mean as a society? Do we no longer think or care about meanness?
Of course, there are a couple of things at play here. For one, the Australian radio DJs are devastated as far as I can tell. Their show has been pulled from the air. A lot of the radio advertisers have pulled their money from the station. It may be the case that these two radio personalities will never work again. They both look fairly young. They also seem to be expressing a few things that you rarely see from morning show DJs in any country – compassion, empathy, downright regret, heartbreak, and absolute sadness – and it all seems rather genuine. In other words, I feel bad for them.
I think a lot of you know from reading Sweet Mother that I usually take a side and I take side pretty strongly. But, this one is tough and I’m not totally sure where I stand. On the one hand, I feel bad for the DJs.
On the other hand, I also feel bad for the deceased nurse and her family. I mean, we’ve all had a moment in our lives (or many) where the joke is on us. That can feel horrible. You can feel bullied. Perhaps, even utterly traumatized. So, I feel for this woman. It’s hard not to.
I read a comment on an article related to the incident that took a strong stance against the DJs:
“I suspect that the DJs, who clearly don’t take anything or anyone else seriously, can not possibly imagine that there are people out there who see their positions as ones of responsibility and duty. People like that, who mock everything, can not imagine that there are those in the community who live their lives with a sense of honor. My heart goes out to her family.” – Liz, Washington DC
Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong, Liz from Washington, but I do understand the idea of someone wanting to live their life peacefully and honorably without being pulled into some entertainer’s stage act. Yet, at the same time, I think it’s an awfully small thing to take one’s own life over. After all, this woman had two kids. Even if you are badly traumatized and humiliated, don’t you think about your kids before you do something hysterical like this? It seems extreme, which makes me think that maybe -just maybe- the nurse wasn’t all that mentally stable to begin with.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily make it right. I’ve been on this morning show/ shock jock/ prank call type programs and there’s always a moment where I go, “Really?” “Are we really going to do or say that right now? Is it really that interesting or gripping to discuss putting a condom on a banana at 7am in the morning?” But, anything, ANYTHING, to shock or titillate is what drives morning radio. Anything to provoke and hopefully get more ratings. That’s the number one goal.
You might say at what expense? To which, I’d say there really is no expense that’s too high anymore for radio shows and podcasts out there. If you think it can’t be said or done, you’re just not listening to the right program because trust me, it’s been both said and done, twice over.
I’ve been a comedian for a very long time, but I will say that I rarely do comedy at the expense of others. I just don’t find it to be necessary. Unless someone acts like an outrageous a-hole, well, then, I don’t really go after them. I figure they’ve come and spent their money, now they just want to enjoy. That’s my job.
I suppose pulling the chair out from someone has never really been interesting to me. It just seems mean. It also seems unskilled. Almost anyone can deliver a sucker punch. In fact, all you need is the element of surprise. Delivering an intellectual sneak attack, that’s what takes skill.
I am all for edgy comedy. I’m all for jerks being put in their place. If you can do so with humor, all the better. While at the same time, I think we’d all flourish (as a human race) with just a little more kindness. Just a little more kindness per person and maybe we’d have a tsunami of joy. What could be bad about that?
Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish on the quest to 365 posts. If you’d like to follow this blog, you can do so by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the page.
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