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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jerry Springer: The Opera

Like many others I am appalled at the decision of Sainsburys and Woolworths to succumb to pressure from fundamentalist groups and withdraw from their shelves the DVD of Jerry Springer: The Opera. I have e-mailed the two companies customer services departments to protest. You can also do the same if you feel strongly enough here and here. The mediawatchwatch site has more details about who and where to complain to. The background to the ban can also be found on the mediawatchwatch site here. Liberal Democrats MP, Lynne Featherstone, has taken up this fight and offers some useful advice as to how to complain on her blog.

Both Sainsburys and Woolworths have now started to claim that this is a purely commercial decision, however The Independent thinks otherwise:

Major retail chains have bowed to pressure from a tiny fringe Christian group by withdrawing copies of a DVD of Jerry Springer: The Opera from stores around the UK.

Woolworths and Sainsbury have both taken the unprecedented step of removing the film from shelves because of "customer" concerns about the content of the musical, released three weeks ago. Sainsbury has admitted it received just 10 complaints.

I have read a lot about this on the blogosphere recently but like Lynne, I was very taken with this particular complaint to Sainsburys:

I am disturbed by the decision-making in your DVD purchasing department. There is a DVD widely stocked by your otherwise morally upstanding establishment that is frankly (and I apologize for the rough language) a blot on the Sainsbury escutcheon. I am referring, of course, to “Jim Davidson - Full On Live.”

That you would allow such a tawdry, debased and vile individual to leer at your customers from the DVD shelves is a disgrace. I know people who have children, and I shudder to think what kind of example you are setting them, via the promotion of Mr Davidson’s products.

Clearly, by stocking this DVD, Sainsbury are sending out the message that tax evasion, racism, spousal abuse and old jokes are things to be aspired to. I, however, disagree. I would therefore insist that you remove this offensive item from the shelves forthwith or I (and many of my kith and kin) will be forced to take our business elsewhere. I have heard very good reports of the cheese counter of the local Waitrose, for example. Do not make me do this.

My continued support of your otherwise august establishment is also dependent on one other thing - that you reverse your decision to ban the DVD “Jerry Springer - The Opera” from your stores immediately. These sceptred isles have a long tradition of bawdy entertainment, satire and musical theatre stretching back hundreds of years. Your erroneous decision to ban this DVD would have Rabelais, Swift, Pope and Orwell spinning in their graves. Or are you going to ban their fine and upstanding work from your shelves also? I expect to see “Jerry Springer - The Opera” on your shop shelves shortly.

Nobody should support this sort of censorship in my opinion. People should be able to choose for themselves rather than having that choice made for them by a handful of fundamentalists.
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