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Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Chaser's War on Everything Make-A-Realistic-Wish Foundation controversy

Make-A-Wish Foundation stupid stuff prankAn episode of the The Chaser's War on Everything that aired on the ABC last night (Wednesday 3 June, 2009) contained a one-minute sketch that spoofed the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the respected non-profit charitable organization that works to fulfill the dreams of terminally ill children. It looks as though the Chaser comedy crew's stupid stuff pranks and practical jokes may have gone too far for the final time.

The Chaser skit parodied the concept with the Make-A-Realistic-Wish Foundation, which Chaser team member Chris Taylor said was dedicated to "helping thousands of kids to lower their extravagance and selfishness in the face of death". In the skit, a terminally ill child whose final wish is to visit Disneyland is offered a pencil case by Taylor. Another who wants to meet teen actor Zac Efron is instead given a stick by fellow Chaser member Andrew Hansen, dressed as a doctor.

"Why go to any trouble when they're only going to die anyway?" Taylor said as a skit's tag line. Groans from the audience are clearly audible.

This caused widespread offense and was a hot topic of discussion on talk back radio at 3AW on Thursday morning. Neil Mitchell of 3AW who took many distressed calls from parents who had lost children to disease called the ABC and the Chaser team to apologize and questioned whether the show should remain on air. His program's attempts to get Chaser team member and executive producer Julian Morrow on the phone proved fruitless.

Shortly before noon, an apology was issued by Morrow and Director of ABC TV Kim Dalton saying:

"The Chaser's War on Everything is a satirical program aimed at provoking debate and providing social commentary on topical issues, current affairs and public life in general. The sketch in last night's show called 'Making A Realistic Wish Foundation' was a satirical sketch and black comedy. The ABC and The Chaser did not intend to hurt those who have been affected by the terminal illness of a child. We acknowledge the distress this segment has caused and we apologise to anyone we have upset. As a result, ABC TV will edit the segment out of tonight's repeat screening on ABC2 and online."

This latest incident again calls into question the nature of what they are doing, whether it qualifies as satire and whether the ABC is serious about respecting community standards in the programs it screens. A key issue at the center of this is the distinction between genuinely provocative comedy that pushes boundaries to make a statement and the causing of offense for its own sake. This latest skit controversy is a clear example of the latter. This, of course, is not the first time the "Chaser boys" have caused controversy with their stunts and pranks.

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Anonymous said...

I thought it was hilarious. It's about time someone made fun of these pathetic organisations whose sole business model is emotional blackmail. If you didn't like it you should have changed the channel, MORON!

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