Balclutha man Lewis Cross complained to the BSA about a Shortland St episode with two male characters, Gerald and Lindsay, kissing, partially undressing, and then going to bed. Lindsay promised Gerald a “surprise” as he disappeared under the covers, Gerald accidentally kneed Lindsay in the face, giving him a bloody nose. End of scene.
Mr Cross was cross that “TVNZ is prepared to accept it is suitable family viewing to show a pair of men undressing, getting into bed and one disappearing under the blankets to obviously start oral sex with his mate.”
Mr Cross said that he would “have enough of a problem explaining to younger kids what might just be happening under the bed clothes if that had been a heterosexual couple”.
The BSA upheld the complaint, and said the episode would have been equally inappropriate between a man and a woman. Their ruling said the scene was not sufficiently discreet for children and was a breach of good taste, decency and children’s interests standards.
This is the first time that a complaint against Shortland Street has been upheld – which is kinda ironic when you think about the fairly sophisticated themes (if not acting) the soap has dealt with. Portrayals of a wide range of families, queer storylines, characters from New Zealand’s different ethnicities, religious and cultural issues around relationships, teen stories.
Then there was the serial killer storyline. Imminently chattable over dinner with the kiddies. “Oh yes son, that’s Joey, he likes to kill women who make him feel inadequate. Did you know almost all serial killers are men? And they usually kill women? Often after raping them? Ice cream and fruit salad anyone?”
The BSA ruling concerns me. Firstly, the BSA has to claim it would have dealt with a male-female couple in the same way, or risk running foul of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees no discrimination on the basis of sexuality. So that disclaimer, to my mind, is meaningless. GayNZ alleges:
Indeed, around the same time the gay scene had been broadcast, Shortland Street episodes had featured ‘before and after’ scenes of straight couple having ‘quickie sex’ in a restaurant, and a male teenage model stripping for a ‘threesome’ safe sex poster campaign.
Similar scenes between men and women are less likely, of course, to be the subject of complaint – or we’d have seen a few more judging from this wee montage:
So if the ruling is problematic in terms of sexuality, what about in terms of sex? Is it really that hard to give kids who ask questions about sex an age-appropriate answer?
“They’re having cuddles and body kisses” for younger ones. “They’re having oral sex” for older kids. With as much information about that as they are comfortable with.
Why on earth wouldn’t you want to be able to talk to your kids about oral sex? It’s less likely to lead to stds, it’s a fool-proof contraception, and let’s face it, isn’t it a sexual activity that is great fun? Maybe sexual pleasure is hard to come by in Balclutha….
Or maybe we should follow Family First in welcoming the ruling and stating:
Standards should be developed according to a family perspective, not an individual rights or freedom of expression perspective
For me personally, hearing about sex from my mother – in glowing, complimentary detail – was the best preparation for having great sex as an adult.
Pity the poor children of Family Firsters and Mr Cross – I suspect they’re not going to have quite the same experience.