Someone sticks their thumb up Ofcom’s dirt box…Ofcom squeals about a trailer for Inside Amy Schumer

Posted: 23 November, 2015 in Ofcom TV Censor
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Read more Ofcom Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Inside Amy Schumer Seasons Region Inside Amy Schumer (trailer)
Comedy Central, 5 September 2015, 22:00

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a trailer broadcast at 22:00 on Comedy Central for the new season of Inside Amy Schumer, which they considered to be too graphic in its language and description of sexual acts.

The trailer featured a group of men sitting around a table playing poker. A female character played by the comedian Amy Schumer entered the room with a plate of chicken wings, which she placed in the middle of the poker table. Before leaving the room she turned to one of the players, her husband, played by the actor Zach Braff, and put her arms around his neck before saying:

If nobody needs anything else, honey, I’m going to head upstairs, start lubing up, so you can blast my dirt-box with your thumb while you lobster hand me in the twat, okay? Seriously, I want you to thumb-dash that mudpit ’til I make a pig noise. Then you can shit on my tits while I call my mom.

Amy Schumer then addressed the other poker players ( You guys are always welcome here! ) before leaving the room. Zach Braff then paused for a moment, while all the other poker players looked down in an uncomfortable silence, and then reached for a chicken wing and said: Guess I should eat up… I gotta shit on those tits!

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language,…sex,…discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of…gender…. Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.2

Although the Code requires that potentially offensive material is justified by its context, there is significant room for innovation, creativity and challenging material within comedy programming. However, broadcasters do not have unlimited licence in terms of offensive material. There may be circumstances in which relevant contextual factors (such as whether the editorial content is programming or a trailer, audience expectations, or warnings given to the audience) are not sufficient to justify the broadcast of offensive material.

Ofcom first considered whether the material in this programme had the potential to cause offence. We noted that in this trailer Amy Schumer used a number of highly graphic terms to describe various sexual acts such as: lubing up ; blast my dirt-box with your thumb ; lobster hand me in the twat ; thumb-dash that mudpit ; and shit on my tits . We considered that these various graphic, sexual references were clearly capable of causing offence.

We went on to consider whether the broadcast of these potentially offensive statements were justified by the context.

We assessed first the editorial context in which the trailer was broadcast. We noted this trailer was broadcast at 22:002, one hour after the watershed. We recognised that viewers of specialist comedy channels, such as Comedy Central, would have been likely to expect stronger and more challenging material to be broadcast at this time well after the watershed.

However, the content in this case was included within a trailer. Ofcom’s research on offensive language notes that audiences consider offensive language less acceptable if it is included in trailers. This is because audiences do not choose to watch promotions for programmes. They come across them unawares. Viewers cannot therefore make informed choices to avoid offensive material in trailers compared to pre-scheduled programmes, and consequently audiences consider that the offensive language is imposed upon them.

Ofcom noted that this material was highly graphic in its use of sexual language, and that in our opinion the latitude given to licensees to broadcast highly offensive language in trailers (which are promotional and which viewers come across unawares) should be less than in programmes. We concluded that the content was so offensive that in our view it would have exceeded viewers’ expectations even when broadcast at 22:00 (and afterwards) on a specialist comedy channel.

Breach of Rule 2.3

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