The Australian Christian Lobby and other conservative Christian groups calling for a boycott of the trashy recently-debuted Channel 10 series Californication have scored a victory, with the Holden and Holeproof companies pulling their ads from the show in response to complaints about its sexual content.
While, of course, they have the right to express themselves, righteous would-be moral despots like the ACL have no right to impose their values on the entertainment choices of the rest of the community – it is irksome that they think they do, and would if they could. Thankfully, there are brakes on their power and influence. There’s my contribution to stating the bleeding obvious for today.
Pam Casellas, journo for The West Australian, makes her contribution in her online blog post, Christiafornication.
Provocative title, what? Nothing like announcing your position with a middle-finger salute to those Christian fanatics. Pam is obviously anxious to align herself with the PC brigade from the outset. You know – the ones who think it’s still brave and free-thinking to send up Christianity, but who shrink back in cowering respect for the values of all other religious groups.
As a pro writer, Pam needs to grab attention with her title and locate herself on the “correct” side – two big ticks there. But she also needs to feign fairness and objectivity. So she acknowledges the right to free expression of the ACL and like-minded groups, and the right of Holden and Holeproof to pull their ads from Californication if they consider such action appropriate. OK, but where’s the angle? Every story needs an angle – wait for it…
“Isn’t death more offensive than sex?” Okaaay.
Actually, no Pam. Neither is offensive in themselves – it’s all about context.
OK, I’m being mischievous, but as will become apparent, so is she. What she is contending, as is subsequently made clear, is that gore and violence in tv dramas is morally more offensive than “some good-natured nooky”. She queries the appropriateness of the Christian moral campaigners’ obsession with censoring sex in tv dramas, rather than violence.
YAWN. Talk about bleeding obvious. This is one of those circular debates that keeps turning up, regular as wooden gee-gees on a merry-go-round. But if original takes on topical issues were an essential element in journalism, most current media scribes would be out of a job. No, novelty of thought is not my concern here – mischievous writing is.
In her quest for an angle, Ms Casellas is bending the arguments of the Christian moralists to suit herself. Sex itself is not their target. Rather, they object to the depiction and context of sex as it occurs in Californication – specifically, to use the words of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney quoted by Ms Casellas, where it “presents distorted ideas about love and sex.”
I’m no Bible-basher, but is it such a stretch for Ms Casellas to contemplate that that nun fellatio fantasy in the first episode might have been just a little offensive to the Christian faithful? Or is she so very liberated from their staid values that she really just can’t understand what the sillies are going on about?
I’m all for freedom of artistic expression, but donning a critic’s hat for a moment, Californication strikes me as try-hard and gratuitous, with the nun fantasy being a prime example – and a very safe brand of outrage, I’d suggest. What if the show had demonstrated some real imagination and guts and replaced the nun’s habit with a hajib? In the blizzard of moral indignation that a scene like that would set off in Islamic circles, would Ms C and the PC army be quite so ready to fly the flag of artistic freedom and bleat on in cliched protest about violence being an issue of greater concern? I don’t think so.
Let’s move on from all that and have a quick look at the show itself. Ms Casellas allows that some might find Californication’s treatment of sex “a bit rugged”, but balances this with the declaration that it is “very funny”. Hmm. I’m a bit over giggling at stuff that is so crudely calculated to stretch an envelope that’s worn and ragged with previous multiple stretchings – let’s face it, class acts like Almodovar have done it all way better, long ago.
I didn’t even raise a smirk from the first episode. In fact, I began sneering soon into it. Duchovny is as believable a sex symbol as my fat arse. His acting is self-conscious, and he strikes me as being an awkward fit for his role; in fact, he seems faintly embarrassed. As well he should be.
Californication is a stinker. Unfunny, poorly written, badly cast. Some nice eye candy, but even the perve factor isn’t enough to get me tuning back in. Which is a dire indictment indeed.
Maybe the Christian morality cranks won’t need to worry about Californication for too long. My bet is that this mangy dog is headed for the battered trashcan of discarded tv drama offal, and soon.