LONDON – Channel 4 chief exec and soon-to-be head of USA Entertainment Michael Jackson proved he hadn’t lost his edge July 26 when his web aired the latest calculated outrage from controversial comedian Chris Morris.
The “Brass Eye Special” – a no holds-barred satire on the U.K. media’s obsession with child abuse – prompted an estimated 500 viewers to call C4 overnight, making it one of the most complained-about shows ever in the channel’s history.
Adding to the indignation was the fact that it was skedded directly after C4 hit “Big Brother,” which despite its 10:00pm slot includes families in its viewing demographic. The next day’s newspaper headlines were a deluge of condemnation, The Sun proclaiming the show, “Sickest TV Ever.”
C4 said the program was “a powerful satire on the way the media exploits and sensationalizes the subject of paedophilia” and that it was “both humourous and directed to make a serious point.”
Sketches included mission control discovering that a young boy had been accidently left on board a rocket carrying a paedophile into exile in space, an Eminem-stye rapper with an eight year-old girlfriend, and a pre-pubescent American beauty queen proudly displaying her breast implants.
As Morris did in his original “Brass Eye” series in 1997 – which ran afoul of then C4 chief exec Michael Grade – a number of celebrities and politicians were duped into making ridiculous public service announcements, including singer Phil Collins, who endorsed the fictional charity Nonce Sense. (Nonce is Brit speak for pervert.)
Morris is highly regarded by many critics and generally revered by his comedic peers. He, or his like, however, are unlikely to appear any time soon on the USA Network.