Tuesday, 11 December 2012

But it was just a joke...

Another radio duo, another tired and unfunny prank. Nothing new to see here. But the tragic outcome was a long time coming, it was inevitable that at some stage a joke would miss the mark and hurt someone.
It was a cheap and tasteless hoax – to try and get private information about a sick pregnant lady in hospital, whether she is famous or not. Were they hoping to find out intimate details of Kate’s morning sickness for the enjoyment of radio listeners? Tasteless yes, but its hardly any worse than the cheap stunts that other zany radio duos have done for decades. Other popular 'comedians' such as Hamish and Hamish and The Chaser roll out this rubbish 10 times over. In the absence of good comedy, they all rely on making fun of the public in childish pranks or skits, and assume that it will all be laughed off when its done. And 99% of the time, it is.
But, the 1% has to occur at some stage, and this time, it’s happened to the DJs at 2Day FM. You could call it bad luck, or call it unexpected, but the reality is that you can never know how people will react to your actions. And now, not only has a nurse on the other side of the world been pushed to end her life, but the two radio DJs’ careers are over, and their lives changed for ever. There was no malice in the call; it was just a bit of stupidity. The DJs aren’t bad people, and most definitely shouldn’t be getting death threats. But nonetheless, The DJs and 2Day FM took a risk for some laughs, and it ended badly.
When you play a joke on someone you don’t know, you cannot know what effect it will have on them, you don’t know their state of mind or their background. The DJs have stated over and over that “it was just a stupid joke, we didn’t expect it to go that far”. No doubt this is true, but its the same plight of workplace and schoolyard bullies - “it was just a bit of fun”. That defence doesn’t stand up anymore. Bullying and harassment are no longer accepted in the community and excuses don’t cut it. The outcomes of bullying cases are well documented, and the worst have ended in the victims taking their own lives, exactly what has happened here. And now the DJs and 2Day FM have to be accountable for their actions, regardless of their intent.
Celebs are used to all their private details being aired in the media. In this year alone, the Royal family has been no stranger to their indiscretions going worldwide – from Harry getting crazy in Vegas, to Kate being snapped topless in France. It goes with the territory of being a famous Royal. They would get hoax calls every day, and they are chased by paparazzi and iPhones alike at every corner. And so they are used to it, and they have the support, the power, the publicists and the people to help them deal with it. But the target of this prank was not William and Kate, it wasn’t on the Royal family, or anyone remotely famous. The target of the prank was an anonymous, unknown, non media-savvy hospital worker who happened to answer the phone. She did not know how to deal with the call, and most definitely did not have the ability to deal with the global fallout.
The hoax call was only ever going to end badly for the victim. There was never going to be a scenario where the victim would have a laugh and say “they got me”. Its understandable that the outcome was unexpected, but at the very least, the victim of the prank would be in serious trouble at their workplace, and would most likely lose their job. After all, they had made a serious error by giving away private information about a high profile patient, surely a breach of hospital privacy. the DJ’s knew this, as did the Producers and whoever else approved airing the call at 2Day FM.
This was NEVER going to be a victimless prank, and the radio station made the conscious decision to play the call anyway. They now face the consequences if their actions.

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