Monday, 17 August 2009

Kyle and Jackie O, the continuing story

Apparently Kyle and Jackie O have become embroiled in another scandal! Last time it was one where Kyle insensitively questioned a teen girl on air about her sexual experience when she was doing a lie detector and it was revealed she'd been raped.

Now here's the next scandal and in my opinion, it's pretty mild and seems to be an attempt to capitalise on people's fury at Kyle and Jackie O.

The story this time is that Kyle reneged on a personal pledge of $35 000 made to a family. And that's not all. A woman named Wendy Koman appeared on air and was encouraged to discuss the plight of her four year old boy Josh, who's paralysed. Kyle personally promised $35 000, and people called in to pledge money. She was encouraged to sound emotional to get more money.

But when the family came to collect the cash, instead of handing over the money, the station handed over the names of the people who pledged the money. Kyle also reneged on his personal pledge after several callers made pledges of of $20 000. Wendy Koman complained that she felt like a debt collector, having to go after the people and collect the money pledged.

Basically, I think this is a pretty pathetic whinge.

Except for the part about Sandilands going back on his word, which is probably something you can get him for, even if he did help you raise the rest of the dough, but gets lost in the rest of the whinge.

It seems rather silly to whinge that you were prepared to go on radio, tell your story, want to get a whole lot of people to donate money to you, but then didn't want to feel bad about taking that money from them. Sorry, I just wanted it handed to me, I didn't want to actually either do the hard work or feel that I was taking it off them. I am happy to take the money from them, I just don't want the psychological stain, which is what calling people up gives you.

For $150K, I think there are plenty of people who would be happy to call around and collect the money. I would.

It seems to me that no matter how upset Koman is, she hasn't come out so morally outraged at Sandilands and principled that she would not touch the disgusting money that the terrible antics of these people has brought her. When she hands the money back to all those people who donated, or gives it to the station or to a charity or something then perhaps she will be more convincing.

Yes, probably the station could have been very much nicer about it. They could have been greeted at the door with a red carpet and a cake and a little funny clown could have been sent over to Josh and someone could have sent flowers over every day and the money could have been done up in little bundles tied in pink ribbon and a photo could have been taken of them receiving it and it could have been framed and sent over to them and Kyle and Jackie O could have become their best buddies forever too and then personally added an extra several ten thousands on top of that as a "bonus just because you're so darn cool".

Everything could have been very much nicer. However, should you reasonably expect it? It seems some people think they are almost entitled to extreme niceness - and often because they feel sorry for themselves. Then when they get less they get outraged. This can be something like what Ms Koman received, or it can be something very simple like someone not publishing your outraged letter to the Editor in the newspaper or not commenting on your blog article. How could they possibly think my original heartfelt wonderful story about this topic and my opinion on it is not worth publishing/reading/comment!

Anyway, I would be happy to go on 2DAYFM and get $150K myself but I have learnt from this lesson.


I have a very sad story and I would like you to raise a whole lot of money for it, say over $100K would be nice. However I have some conditions on this, I will sound impassioned on radio however I don't want anyone to say I am milking it. I want a heap of money but I don't want anyone to say I am cheap or selling myself. I want other people's cash but I want to feel that they are giving it freely and I am entitled to it not that I have to take it from them. I want to be able to collect it easily, so please get some of your staff to collect it from those people should they prove difficult to collect from, or better still, please give me the money straight from your coffers, and then you can refill your coffers at some later time with any pledges that you will naturally do all the work to collect and if anyone doesn't pay up, not my problem."

Yours Sincerely,


P.S. By the way this blog article is so darn relevant and my opinion is so darn right I feel entitled to at least one comment and I will feel outraged if I don't get one. If someone else doesn't do it I'll do it myself!


Dan the VespaMan said...

ooh not too sure on this one Maria. I think if Kyle and Jackie O said they would raise some cash (which they would have received a lot of good publicity for doing) then that's exactly what they should have done, rather than raise a list of people's names who "promised" donations.

Ofcourse, I don't know exactly what they did promise on air, but deceiving the listeners is a big no no, as per the "cash for comments" saga a few years ago.

Maria said...

Dan, I guess there are different opinions on this one, sure. I should add that in the end only a third of the money was honoured and the family got mad: A lot of people say that K&J should honour the donation. Now should they, or should the people who promised the money and called up?

Let's just say I have a little more sympathy for radio DJs (no matter how much they earn) than perhaps some of the others who commented did. Radio stations deceive listeners all the time, and English is a sloppy language where what you say and what you mean are not even expected to be the same.

If someone said, "I was on the show "Earn some Cash!" and I won $100,000 and then later on I went to him and he said he could only deposit it to a bank account. I don't have a bank account. He said to open one. I don't want to open one. I want it all in cash. He said he would give me a cheque. I don't want a cheque, I don't like dealing with banks. He said he would give me money! Where is it?" would you consider that deception? Strictly speaking it could be argued as such but others might consider it unreasonable to have $100K handed over to someone in cash, and would expect someone reasonable to expect to have such a large amount in an electronic or cheque form, and to 'understand' that cash ain't cash.

Maria said...

Having worked in radio I know that many radio stations faked calls, used delay and faked interviews. They considered it the norm. I didn't work at Austereo. I worked in radio in admin and I was often called in (probably because my voice wasn't known on air), given a fake name and told to pretend I was doing a comp, or I was rung at my desk and told to pretend I was all excited because I was winning a prize. Or to pretend I was losing. This was supposed to stimulate others to enter comps, or to show them how to play the game, or to make it look like at least the game hadn't been won at the first go so it wasn't that lame.

I never had a problem with this, it seemed harmless fun at the time.

The expectation that radio will be straightforward and transparent is expecting too much of them in my opinion.

Cash for comments was a completely different incident in that Jones and Laws both received direct and agreed financial payment for decieving listeners; which is different (perhaps, one might argue, not in spirit!) from deceiving your listeners and happening to gain from it. In the second incident, naturally, a DJ takes a chance, and the listeners can choose whether they have a problem with being deceived if and when they find out.

I don't think that deceiving your listeners per se is actually a no-no on air, it's the receiving financial payment for it. If Jonesy and Lawsy had lied and said they loved that soup or enjoyed driving that car and they really hadn't but they hadn't been endorsed by any of the companies to say it, I don't think there would have been any fuss whatsoever.

In all this I will state that:

a) I didn't actually listen to the segment
b) I don't listen to K&J much really at all
c) I'm not really endorsing their actions. I'm not saying that this was the best way to handle this; I'm just saying that neither do I feel that much sympathy for Ms Koman. Like one commenter said, if the woman had expressed any gratitude to the station for the money she did receive, one might feel sorry for her; instead she harps on about what she didn't get. Also, those who mudsling K&J now seem to be fuelled by their fury at the previous saga, and had nothing to say except that these guys were dirt who ought to be strung up, so I felt their needed to be something written from the other side!

R.H. said...

Don't be silly. As someone trained in law surely you'd know that the person in your example is just being vexatious. If the money is offered in the usual way: cheque or electronic transfer, the contract is bona fide. Arguing it should be delivered in some other manner (e.g. cash) would only get the judge hopping mad.

If any man ever deserved to be called a c--t it's Sandilands.

R.H. said...

And sweetiepie, no one likes being deceived. We all have "a problem" with it.

Maria said...

I remember working at a law firm and the lawyer in charge getting into a big fight with the accountant because she (the accountant) opened a bank account in his name and deposited his salary into it. He said he didn't want a bank account, he had never had a bank account, and he wanted cash. Thank you very much. And they had a big yelling match with each other right there in the office.

As to whether legally it would be ok, I'm sure legally, it would be fine to give someone an electronic transfer instead of cash. I also think it's legally ok to say on air "Betty's here talking to me and you guys right now, love your hair Betty!" when you're actually talking to Mary, who's really in another city phoning in her interview on seven second delay and you hate her hair.

It's all a deception though. It's legally right, but to some listeners it might be distasteful and therefore wrong.

Just because something is legally wrong doesn't mean people will like it and in the case of K&J, I think certainly, if people don't like what they have done they can vote with the dial. Turn off.

Maria said...

Let's just imagine, for a moment that the woman didn't have a paralysed boy but she rang up the station and her stunt was to prank call someone and tell them she was cheating on them/they were fat or one of those other pranks K&J are famous for. People are encouraged to ring and pledge money to encourage her to keep going with offending or scaring her friend, see how much she can win. Something like that. Then later she goes to collect the money and she's told what Ms Koman was. My guess is that there would not be this reaction. In fact some people would say she got what she deserved for offending a friend, or what did she expect for such a silly prank call on a puerile show, get a life.

My point is that while people will go on about the principle involved in honouring what they said they would do "raise some cash", and say they really are fighting for a principle, it is mainly emotionally driven by Ms Koman's plight. if there wasn't a paralysed boy at the centre of it all, would we care so much about the principle? Probably not.

In the midst of all this, does this make Kyle or Jackie a better person? Not necessarily. But maybe we should get clear on why we really are so upset about this.

And is Kyle a loser? Well i don't think it is very smart to do what he did given it probably isn't a big deal to him and it's a big deal to a lot of people, and given the timing it is not a good time to be revealed. However I think when you break it down and take the emotion and hype from it, it's not nearly as bad as it seems at first, it's just it's very hard to do that when you first read it.

Maria said...

Here's a story I've told before on the blog: Last year I won over a thousand dollars worth of stuff at Borders books.

It took me about two months of careful winning to win it bit by bit, playing almost every day, sometimes over an hour per day, a game they set up. Each time I won part of the prize they sent me email confirmation of my win. I read the rules carefully and played by them.

Near the end of the game I received a phone call from a representative of Borders books saying they were taking away all the prizes except the first prize I won, valued at less than $20. This was a token prize for playing. I asked why. They said I had won too much. (I had in fact won so much that combining my prizes with of course the many prizes that all the other players had won, the game had pretty much finished a week or so before the planned finish date!)

I explained I had played by the rules and there was nothing in the rules about a cap on prizes or number of entries.

They said they were suspicious that I could play so often since they could see I played so much.

I pointed out I was unemployed and spent a lot of time on the computer. And it was clear thet my entries had enough time lag (and you had to type in things to play) that they were not electronically generated.

They said they were taking away the prizes anyway and changing the rules IN RETROSPECT so that I couldn't have won the prizes. And legally, as they had a clause that said that the company could refuse the prizes or discontinue the game at any time for any reason at their discretion, or something like that, they could do that.

I don't think this would have made much of a story basically because I am not a paralysed kid, just an unemployed blog writer with a penchant for books. had I attempted to publicise it I no doubt would have got someone telling me to go and get a REAL job so I could PAY for all those books.

And Borders hadn't recently been involved in a scandal with a rape victim.

Yet in what way does this substantially differ except that I am not that sympathetic a victim and Borders has a better rep, and perhaps the prize was not that amazingly cool to warrant a headline? I played, to get something for nothing ... well I put in work and time. The rules were changed on me and promises were dishonoured.

At least Ms Koman got a third of her win, which was substantially larger than what I got.

Hey, wasn't a bad book. I can say it led me to a very good series which I probably wouldn't have read otherwise so I'm glad I read it. But there were so many others!

Anonymous Bosch said...

I think you are defending the indefensible here, Maria. It appears that Mr. Sandilands used the family in this story as material for his radio show, and pledged a personal donation of $35,000, presumably in hopes of achieving good publicity and rehabilitation of a very dodgy public persona.

The fact that he then didn't fulfil his side of this bargain is just wrong. Full stop.

I'm surprised at your defence of radio deception, too. If such deception is acceptable, where should journalists draw the line? "Media Watch" would have a field day, and we would all enjoy the accompanying sense of righteous indignation.

Maria said...

Media Watch always has a field day, and I quite enjoy it but I think it's bloody funny. If they really were fair about it then they would have to go on all day but just like every other show they jump at the juiciest bits, which is again another way of showing they are sensationalist, probably as bad as some of the shows they denounce.

If you believe that what you see on the screen, read in the print or hear on the radio show is how it is and it hasn't been shaped, moulded and twisted in a form that is deemed more palatable to listeners, viewers and readers then you've been deceived for yonks. Surely we've all known this for years and yet most shows do not flag this at the beginning or end of their show.

However, Bosch, I'm not defending Kyle for taking back the pledge of $35 000. I think that is about the most worthwhile attack in the whole story, but as I said, it seems to get lost under the rest of the moans, like how the woman didn't get the rest of the money or how she had to ring up to collect it for herself. The way the article presents it is as if Kyle's retraction was the least of her worries (though in truth that may be the wrong - a newspaper deception?).

Legally he probably is obliged to hand over nothing but it's the most obvious 'wrong' thing he has done here.

Anonymous Bosch said...

"If you believe that what you see on the screen, read in the print or hear on the radio show is how it is and it hasn't been shaped, moulded and twisted in a form that is deemed more palatable to listeners, viewers and readers then you've been deceived for yonks."

I'm a reformed print journalist turned academic myself, Maria, and while my professional skill was shaping and moulding, I never twisted. I would have been offended had my readers even considered the possibility.

Maria said...

When has media deception not be acceptable? There are just levels of it and we usually assume that some are harmless and some are necessary and some are ok because a 'reasonable person knows that's not what they mean'.

Naturally, if you find this unacceptable, then you can choose to not listen. However I think it is foolish to not expect deception in the media at times.

Saying "if we allow this deception where do we draw the line?" ... well we have already allowed some deception.

Lines about journalistic behaviour and practice are drawn according to several rules: personal ethics of the journalists/entertainers, ethics within a company/industry (understood), a more enshrined industry code, law, and community standards, social acceptance and social outrage including ratings! There may be other things that govern people's decisions, I'm mentioning the main things I can remember.

It might be interesting to know that some of these clash a lot, and I'm not just talking about Kyle's personal ethics and society's moral standards.

I mean things like enshrined journalistic code and law.

For instance, it has been by many journalists understood that it is wrong to reveal your sources if you have promised them confidentiality.

That relationship isn't recognised by the law and journalists could be compelled by the law to reveal sources, and can face imprisonment if they don't. Some journos do go to prison rather than break the code they honour.

Similarly, other ethical practices have to be decided upon using the rules and guidelines above as a structure but given the possible conflicts decisions may not be easy.

Maria said...

"I never twisted."

You're one of the goodies, Bosch, good on you.

But certainly you must have been aware that there were plenty in the industry who did. And to be honest, do you think it's likely to change?

I might be a skeptic or cynic but I think it's better to acknowledge it and be aware of it than get outraged each time it happens and expect different of the industry in general.

Now, I worked at a Current Affair on stories and what started out as one thing would turn into a very different story by the end!

Maria said...

Oh and by the way .. in my opinion given the categorisation, people should be allowed to expect higher news integrity from ACA than of a more frivolous show than K&J.

Yet, for instance, I would be told instead of "we have found this story on laundry rorts. Research it", "We want to do a story on laundry rorts. Ring up every laundry there is and find one that charges more for women's than for men's, so we can use them as an example".

I called so many laundries all morning, and all were "clean" hahah. They charged fairly, and said differences in pricing related to number of garments, different fabrics or cuts, etc. It wasn't until I found one laundry after going through a huge long list that charged a tiny bit more for women's than men's ... I noted it down and ACA swooped on the bastards, made an example of them and did this whole story on how laundries were rorting customers in Sydney with their gender bias.

That's what I call a twist.

Anonymous Bosch said...

The protection of anonymous sources is a recognised (albeit controversial) aspect of the Fourth Estate's role in democracies, and that's a long way from "deception". Journalists know there is a risk in using anonymous sources, and the courts know that holding a journalist in contempt is also risky.

We all know that ACA and TDT don't operate to the same standards as news programs. So many stories are obviously barely-edited VPR's, or organised by PR agencies, or are interviews with personalities whose new movie/book comes out this week. But that also is not deception.

The problem with "cash for comment" was that it was deception - listeners were entitled to believe that AJ and JL were giving an unbiased endorsement to Qantas, Optus, the banks, etc. when in fact their opinion had been bought and paid for in an arrangement which was concealed from the listeners. Ergo, deceptive. And 2GB got heavily fined for that, so I don't think you can say that society at large finds it acceptable.

Perhaps you're saying that deception in popular media is OK as long as the viewer/listener/reader doesn't know about it? Because it's certainly the case that if the audience does realise, the media loses credibility and is trusted even less by the audience.

You might want to ponder the existence of S.52 and S.53 of the Trade Practices Act; people don't like falsehoods and deceptions.

(Of course, as an anonymous poster myself, I'm somewhat lacking in credibility! But not deceptive).

Dan the VespaMan said...

According to the code of practice by the Australian Communications & Media Authority:

Page 4, Section 1.3 (b)
"A licensee (Radio Station 2DAY in other words) must not broadcast a program which...simulate news or events in such a way as to mislead or alarm listeners."

Posted on ACMA's website ( today are details of their investigation into the show. It will be very interesting to see how their conclusions stack up with ours.

R.H. said...

An accountant opened a bank account in a senior lawyer's name and deposited his salary into it? But he didn't want a bank account? He had never had a bank account?

Are you sure about all this?

I look forward to when the old cliche that "if you don't like something turn it off" is retired. How weak. Sure, you can turn a show off, but if you're a bit more than a zombie you'll complain about it too. As for deception, unfortunately lots of low acts are immoral but not illegal, nevertheless judges during sentencing are well-known for expressing moral outrage in fraud cases especially, and rightly so.

Maria said...

OK, thanks everyone for commenting. The good thing about opinions is that no one can be wrong and you all have given me something to think about. I wrote this blog article because I had views about it, but mainly because I also think that people have been jumping very quickly to crucify Kyle, and possibly for the wrong reasons, and perhaps we should gain some perspective on that and think about what we are really complaining about.

Bosch, my point about deception is it occurs all the time on air and off air. I disagree that it is wholly immoral. I also disagree that it should be wholly removed. But then my idea of what counts as deception may differ somewhat from what the industry standard does, and indeed yours does!

To many people, and quite fairly, the idea of deception means "what decceives me or what I consider deceives people similar to me".

So if I say "A fantasy movie like one with witches in it is an attempt at deception", some people would say that isn't true, because they knew when they turned the movie on that it was 'just a movie', that they didn't expect it to represent real life, that it was in the movies section, not the news, that they know flying doesn't occur so only an idiot would be deceived, that the format didn't suggest it was real - they watched it for fun.

Never mind that a two-year-old could watch it and might say "MUM, do witches REALLY exist?"

The point there made is that the line drawn for deception is where the 'reasonable person' would consider deception to have taken place, and many people say 'I'm reasonable, so I say I'm the test'.

To me the line is very blurry and I think such distinctions are not so easily made. I also think it is worthwhile questioning some of these distinctions we make for ourselves.

Do I like being deceived in the media? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. People will complain that they were not told what went on, precisely, behind the scenes in an entertainment show, but laugh at the terrible "gaffes" movie or TV show makers made when you can see a cable cord in the scenery or the reflection of a camera in a mirror. It's an outrage if they deceive you, and a joke if they don't deceive you well enough. What do we want?

Maria said...

I laughed at Mr Coffee's comment last night. He said to me: "Everyone likes to think 2DAYFM and Sandilands has no feelings which is why they treat him that way ... but think about Sandilands, he's a very emotional guy. He was very emotional when he got taken off the air I heard. In fact we should feel for him, he has lost two jobs recently.

People just think of him as a rich loudmouthed jerk but another way to see him is a guy like many others in the recession who was recently made redundant!"

Maybe we should make an effort to see things from his side, Kyle, not the arrogant jock but the unemployed bastard, down like the rest of us who have been thrown out of jobs.

I am sure he has better savings than most of us, but try to picture him in that week sitting in his house with a huge OUT OF WORK sign slung around his neck, sobbing and wondering whether he could get a fill-in job walking some old lady's dog or serving hamburgers and maybe, posibly, you will feel differently about him.

Or not.

Anonymous Bosch said...

"Do I like being deceived in the media?"

More to the point: Do you know when you're being deceived? Clearly, like many of Gen Y who had Media Studies at school, you are cynically sophisticated about media (or should that be sophisticatedly cynical?).

However, the current crop of radio, TV and even print journalists went through the same Media Studies classes and more, so they know all the tricks, including some you won't spot. And perhaps, knowing how cynical the audience is, they believe they now have a licence to do what everyone expects: lie, cheat, deceive?

Clearly, all fiction is a deception in which both the creator and the audience willingly and knowingly participate, so that's a straw man argument. Consider the literary scandals (Helen Demidenko/Darville, Norma Khouri, etc.) that ensue when authors confuse fiction and reality.

As to the execrable Mr. Sandilands: boo hoo.

Interesting discussion, though. I'm just surprised you are so sanguine about media deception. Must be a Gen Y thing.

Maria said...

I'm sure we all feel very sorry for Sandilands. I love the image. I think we can all picture him in the corner as a hobo andd it makes us all feel good. It would make a good email pic to send around if I had the talent to do pic modification.

Certainly, fiction is one of those areas where people argue we knowingly participate in deception although in certain cases people, even en masse have been deceived, such as in the War of the Worlds broadcast.

On the other hand, there are areas which are confusing and that's because of the blurry line between fiction and non-fiction - say the "creative non-fiction", the "humorous opinion" the "entertainment journalism" blah blah. It's not straight news, on the other hand it's not a story either. The majority of people go there expecting to get a mix of reality/news/stories that is slanted and possibly interweaved with stories, jokes, sarcasm, lighthearted fluff, spoofs, exaggeration blah blah blah. And while they aren't necessarily aimed at the most sophisticated audiences you're either expected to be able to tell the difference between what's what and what's not ... or not care!

I don't claim to know always when I'm being deceived ... but probably if they do it well enough I don't know that I don't know, hey?

It's an interesting discussion as to whether, if the audience expects people to deceive, whether the media should deliver, or is at liberty to deliver. We have become savvy because of their behaviour, then do they drop their behaviour further because of our savvy? And does that mean they'll never spring back up again unless we regain our innocence and risk being knocked in the backs?

Well worth thinking about!

Maria said...

Aaaah, here's a case where understandably people get upset and think it's "wrong" to be deceived!

Late passenger makes hoax bomb call to catch plane ...

Anonymous Bosch said...

"I'm sure we all feel very sorry for Sandilands."

OK, now I'm sure you're practicing your satirical technique.

R.H. said...

Sandilands is a con man.


Millionaire crook.

Maria said...

Is deception always a negative thing in our society? I know people get mad about hoaxes, but in some cases they've been argued to be useful in showing people something about themselves.

ANd people have been upset, yes, about being deceived but have we always felt sorry for them or felt their anger justified?

I remember the movie 'Borat'. Sascha Baron Cohen deceived many people into believing he was Borat and got people to reveal certain parts of their character, or to respond in ways that they probably wouldn't have if they had known he was an actor, because their guard would have been up.

Later some complained and as far as I know, even attempted to sue. I think those included the drunken frat boys.

I think many people said that while certain people (like the people who couldn't speak English and were referred to as being incestuous, etc) deserved better, people like the frat boys deserved what they got because if they hadn't had the views they had they would never have been caught out like that. The fact that certain people were exposed as loudmouthed and racist was because they did hold those views - it was just that the deceptive character of Borat was able to expose them and make fun of them in a way that a normal interviewer could not so easily do.

Maria said...

As for the straw-man, Bosch ... "Clearly, all fiction is a deception in which both the creator and the audience willingly and knowingly participate", don't quite agree.

Depends on how you categorise fiction.

Is it fiction because it isn't true or fiction because the creator flags it as untrue or fiction because the audience recognises it as untrue? (or a combination?

For instance, if a journalist tells a fantastic story in a news show, is that 'fiction'?

Some would say it is. Some would say it's not, it's a lie told in a news show.

I think that what really happens is that people who write or present that which is classified as fiction present a fiction story and do not really intend to deceive.

However, many do not bother to flag a show, book, story, radio piece as fiction either. What they do is rely on audience savvy to understand that this is fantasy, satire, creative, opinion, whatever, by the format, content, style, tone whatever. Lots of shows start with what could be mistaken for a newsreel piece or a real life interview if you turned on the TV - say a man getting shot in the street and police swarming down, and don't exactly say "BTW this NEVER REALLY HAPPENED this is FICTION". They rely on you watching through and being able to tell as the show goes on that these people are actors, usually by the fact that everything works out neatly again and everyone has punchy lines and there's a token black and a dodgy accent, and everyone can have sex with the hot blonde in the office.

This is basically talking about assuming a certain modicum of common sense and understanding of our culture and values and behaviour. Of course these styles, technology, standards etc change all the time.

This reminds me somewhat of the movie Galaxy Quest where the aliens kidnap Tim Allen and crew, because they watched the sci-fi show from outerspace and thought these actors who played a space crew where actually real spaceship heroes, and they wanted them to help them.

They also thought Gilligan's Island was real.

The aliens had no concept of fiction and willing participation in it. They believed either you told the truth or you lied. The end.And in the end Tim Allen had to tell the aliens "We lie" and face the consequences. (BTW it's an excellent comedy movie - check it out. It's funnier apparently if you are a Trekkie fan)

I also remember that I was in a bar with a man who as far as I know WASN'T an alien and he had a rant to me about actors. He said he objected to them earning high salaries for what was "lying". He didn't see it as entertainment or creating fantasy in which he participated. They pretended to be something they were not. They "lied".

Anonymous Bosch said...

"As for the straw-man, Bosch"

Please - I think we know each other well enough that you can call me "Anonymous" by now. Either that or "Mr. van Aken", I suppose ('twas the Baron who christened me thus).

"Is it fiction because it isn't true or fiction because the creator flags it as untrue or fiction because the audience recognises it as untrue? (or a combination?"

It is fiction because the creator flags it as such and because the audience recognises it as such (not to be confused with "a fiction", which may be neither flagged or recognised - it's just a fancy word for an untruth).

Of course, it is recognised because we picked it off the "Fiction - Alphabetical by Author" shelves at the bookshop or library. The "audience savvy" you describe is, of course, not difficult - theme music, opening credits, cast lists, reviews, etc. all provide the context we need to recognise it. By contrast, when something is billed as an "award-winning documentary" we don't expect it to be fiction.

"This is basically talking about assuming a certain modicum of common sense and understanding of our culture and values and behaviour."

The aliens you describe are, of course, fictional, so their inability to understand fiction doesn't carry much weight. And the man in the bar - could he perhaps have suffered from Asperger's syndrome or even autism?

As for Borat's victims, it's worth remembering that a suit was highly unlikely to succeed after they had signed a release.

Can deception provide insight into character? Perhaps, but remember that in most jurisdictions that derive from English law there is a line that must not be crossed, between enticement and entrapment. Borat can play fast and loose with this, and you have to ask yourself how much you can rely on the results. Social psychologists have lots of examples of people behaving out of character due to social pressures from others (e.g. wanting to avoid causing offence, etc.).

Anonymous Bosch said...

BTW, hope you're watching ABC Fora on ABC2 in two minutes (5:30 PM):

"Can the Media Be Trusted? A passionate and fiery debate between Jonathan Holmes, John B Fairfax, Catharine Lumby, Mark Scott, Stephen Mayne and Julian Burnside."