Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Chas(er)tened

By Darryl Mason

They complain when you go too far, and they complain when you don't go far enough :

Here's the Herald Sun's Chaser specialist Colin Vickery asking the "burning question" :

Has The Chaser team gone soft? That's the burning question after last night's edition of The War on Everything.

The Chaser
boys - Andrew Hansen, Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel and Chris Taylor - looked tentative after being thrown off air by the ABC for two weeks.
He wasn't watching too closely, perhaps distracted by the State Of Origin :
A much-publicised dig at the Moran family didn’t make it to air.
The Moran family dig did air, it was fast and close to the start.
So where does The Chaser go from here? The world has changed a lot in the two years since the team’s last series. Reliable Chaser targets John Howard and George Bush are long gone.

Fear and cynicism have been replaced by a renewed sense of hope and positivity.
Masterchef Australia is held up by Vickery as an example of Australia's "renewed sense of hope and positivity", in the mostly fictional lands of reality TV at least.
A clearly chastened Chaser took aim at some easy targets in last night’s show in an obvious attempt to ensure there was no repeat of the firestorm of protest that came after their Make A Realistic Wish Foundation sketch.
The Herald Sun, and all the online Murdoch tabloids, including The Australia, quite profitably whipped up much of that "Firestorm Of Protest" with a series of Colin Vickery stories that delivered hundreds of thousands of extra page views and thousands of comments over the three or four days they managed to keep the Chaser Makes Fun Of Dying Children sensation alive.

The Murdoch media, like Fairfax, don't just forget about The Chaser because they're not doing anything controversial when stories about them pull so many readers to the news sites. Chaser stories can be almost constantly counted on to feature in the Top Ten Most Read Today lists.

All through the past few years, controversies whipped up, sometimes furiously, by the Murdoch media has resulted in literally hundreds of Chaser stories being published across the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, The Australian, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Courier Mail, in print and online. This list of stories from the past two years or so would have generated many millions of page views and tens of thousands of comments. Massive traffic, monumental. And profitable.

You usually need to fake stories about Pauline Hanson getting her tits out to pull those numbers.

The Chaser delivers bigger profit as free content to the Murdoch online media than it delivers to the show's creators and producers through DVD sales.

When you're onto a good thing, Rupert Murdoch would expect you to milk the fucker for everything you can get.

So Colin Vickery had no choice, he had to come up with something Chaser-related.

Even as something as damp and 'aaaahh, whatever' as asking if The Chaser has "finally gone soft".

UPDATE : Herald Sun readers notice the obvious schizophrenia, 95% of commenters point out the blinding hypocrisy.

The Chasers' Wingdings message from last night's very fast, very tight, very fit show has been decoded :
If you actually bothered to translate this you are :

a) clearly unemployed

b) clearly a nerd

c) clearly disappointed by now that it's nothing controversial.
It was familiar of The Simpsons episode where a fast-scrolling list of official apologies from the producers of Kent Brockman's Eye On Springfield whips by. It required hitting slo-mo on the non-digital video recorder when it was originally aired back in the non-YouTube 1990s to catch all the apologies, such as these :
The nerds on the Internet are not geeks.

Our universities are not "hotbeds" of anything.

Cats do not eventually turn into dogs.

The "Bug" on your TV screen can see into your home.
Our viewers are not pathetic sexless food tubes.
In amongst those apologies was this line :
If You're Reading This, You Have No Life

Last night The Chaser dared to air another skit videod on location outside The Vatican. This, like the messasge blimp, featured controversial material.

However, you won't hear representatives of The Catholic Church trying to tear in The Chaser this time. Because to do so means critics and the professionally outraged will have to acknowledge what the piece was about.

The Catholic Church has added 'Excessive Wealth' to its expanded list of The Seven Deadly Sins. So The Chaser asked passing Vatican priests to pray for those suffering from Excessive Wealth, like The Catholic Church, which we learned through the prayers pulls an astounding $15 billion in revenue from Australia each year and $4 trillion from around the world.

You can catch the latest Chaser episode here, including the highlight Ray Martin's Small Talk, where Tim Flannery and Phillip Ruddock convene to discuss, well, not very much at all. I wanted to see more of this small talk, I think I could take about fifteen minutes of it, just before bed.

Who knew Ray Martin could parody himself so effortlessly?

The Chaser's bit about the 'Rudd Safe House', where shattered, trembling ex-staffers of the prime minister can recover and heal safely was good, but they still have a long way to go in getting at Kevin Rudd in the sometimes near hallucinatory ways they got at John Howard in 2006 and 2007 :
....the Chasers, a constant thorn in the then prime minister's side as the election approached. Some of their ambushes of his early morning power walks rose to the level of performance art - one involved a silver Delorean sports car, a mad professor and the promise to take Mr Howard "back to the future" so that he could retire gracefully rather than be forced out by the voters.

The BBC has picked The Chaser to air before the well-matched and already popular Flight Of The Conchords. Getting picked up by the BBC is still a kind of comedy nirvana :
The BBC signed a deal to screen a special six-episode compilation of highlights from The Chaser's War On Everything 2006 and 2007 seasons.
The show is already screening in America, Japan, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, Israel and even Mongolia...