We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’. If you eat the wrong foods, you’ll become overweight and ill. The same principle applies to entertainment.
There is nothing wrong with being entertained, but as Christians we should ensure we are watching something wholesome. If we watch inappropriate entertainment, it could well have a negative impact on our attitudes and behaviour.
Twenty years ago, the behaviour displayed on Jeremy Kyle would’ve left people disgusted and outraged, while the coarseness of many modern pre-watershed entertainers would’ve been regarded as wholly unacceptable. Nowadays, Jeremy Kyle is seen as a laugh, while people have become so immune to swearing and crudity on TV that the shock value of it has gone.
The Comic Relief sketch in which Rowan Atkinson pretends to be the Archbishop of Canterbury would’ve caused uproar just 10 years ago.
The sketch prompted more than 2,200 complaints to the BBC and this week it was announced that there would be an investigation by media regulator Ofcom.
The sketch, which lacks any real wit and humour, was broadcast before the watershed. In it, Atkinson uses a sexual expletive twice, repeatedly mocks Christian beliefs, and ends by saying that prayer “doesn’t work”.
His brother Rodney assures us that Rowan supports the Anglican Church in his private life, so why does he feel the need to attack it in public?
The answer is likely to be because this sort of ‘humour’ chimes with the institutional bias that exists at the BBC. To quote Andrew Marr: “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly-funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.”
The autobiography of former BBC newsreader Peter Sissons is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the bias. In summary, their attitudes go something like this: the UN is wonderful, as is the EU. Euro-sceptics are fruitcakes and closet racists. Al Gore is a (secular) saint, and Barack Obama is the best thing since sliced bread. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are right, science explains everything, therefore religious people are either silly or have been brainwashed, and are in need of enlightenment. Great care must be taken not to offend Muslims but Christians are fair game because they never complain.
Both Marr and Sissons are spot on with their analysis, but the bias they define goes far beyond the news department.
We can see evidence of it on virtually every episode of Live at the Apollo. Fashionable, left-wing comedians make jokes about Daily Mail readers and Christians, with extra expletives thrown in, while BBC newsreaders obediently sit and giggle in the front rows.
In Eastenders, the only regular Christian character is a chain-smoking, loopy old bat, intended for ridicule.
A culture has developed whereby BBC staff recruit from their own kind. Speaking from experience, I’d advise anyone hoping to do well at a BBC interview to avoid expressing socially conservative views, keep their Christian beliefs to themselves, and not to express admiration for Margaret Thatcher.
‘Equality and diversity’ are the religions of the BBC, yet, without any sense of irony, it rarely appoints from outside the metropolitan liberal elite.
Unlike other anti-Christian outlets, we cannot simply boycott the BBC. We are legally-obliged to fund it through the licence fee if we wish to watch television at all.
The deal works both ways. In return for our money, the BBC has a duty to be socially and morally responsible, and to act with equal sensitivity to all beliefs. It also has an obligation to cast its net far more widely when appointing staff in all departments.