I always enjoy it when people refer to The Chaser team as ‘The Chasers’. In fact, these days, I make a point of doing it myself. What I am not enjoying, however, is all the ludicrous flapdoodle that is taking place over the ‘Make A Realistic Wish Foundation’ sketch. Therefore, I feel the need to unburden myself and add yet more words to the millions that have been written, or spoken, on this topic already.
The argument I would like to make first and foremost is that, in my opinion, those who are taking the moral high ground have wilfully misunderstood the sketch as being about The Chasers ‘laughing at sick kids’ or, to paraphrase a quote in the Herald Sun, spitting in the face of dying children. Now, having an infinite interest in myself and my feelings, I remember vividly my reactions when the sketch was first shown. To me, the whole joke was that the ‘Make A Realistic Wish Foundation’ is the kind of crooked organisation with which The heartless Chasers would be involved.
What we can extrapolate from this then, is that the point of the sketch was actually The Chasers making fun of themselves, not of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, or of dying infants. It is well documented that the Make-A-Wish Foundation does good work fulfilling the dreams of sick children, so how could anyone really think that the Make A Realistic Wish Foundation is supposed to represent them? (Actually, I would argue that the Make-A-Wish Foundation itself has done the most to popularise this idea, by commenting to the media at every opportunity, but that’s another story.) I understand that The Chasers have also been accused of implying that sick children are being greedy in wishing to travel to distant amusement parks or to meet celebrities. Well, to me, it was the sick children (or, should I say, heavily made-up child actors) in the sketch who were the sympathetic parties, and the humour was in the concept that they were being let down by The selfish Chasers.
Of course, I admit that I’m not the author of the sketch, so I can’t know absolutely what the intention of it was. I’m not saying this, though, in order to take a step back just in case The Chasers had actually all been keen to spit in the faces of dying children. I am saying this to make it clear that I acknowledge that I can’t talk with any authority about what their aim was. However, my interpretation as a viewer is, I would think, as valid as anyone else’s. Now, what did give me a start when I watched the sketch was seeing images of dying children used in any humorous context at all. So, yes, initially I was shocked but didn’t ultimately find the sketch offensive, because, again, I assumed the targets of it were actually The Chasers, and also the Make A Realistic Wish Foundation, ie, a non-existent entity.
It kills me too, the way Kevin Rudd condemning the sketch is taken to be evidence of anything. I mean, what else is he going to say? In the unlikely event that he a) has any sense of humour at all and b) that if he did, the sketch is the kind of thing he would find funny, is he really going to fly in the face of middle Australia? It is astonishing to me that his reaction was reported as big news when nothing could have been more predictable. More surprising has been the abject spinelessness of the ABC, although, come to think of it, why I’m surprised about that either, I don’t know.
It’s my belief that many people are misinterpreting that sketch due to their lingering resentment over the fact that The Chasers were allegedly paid a vast amount of money to do this series of The Chaser’s War on Everything. No doubt, another factor in this bitterness towards the team is that they are regarded by many as self-satisfied little Sydney-born-and-bred, private-school-educated, degrees-from-sandstone-university-holding, appearing-on-the-ABC dicks. Further to that, I would imagine that at least some of the lynch mob assume The Chasers are a group of swinging bachelors, living it up like they’re the Rat Pack in 1960.
Now, it’s my understanding that pretty much all of The Chasers are married, and that Craig Reucassel has something like seventeen children, so they haven’t all committed the apparent crime of being over thirty and not having wed and reproduced. But, even if they had, I have never been able to grasp why it is that the viewpoint of anybody with a child is imbued with instant moral authority. One of the people vox popped on A Current Affair about the Chaser incident, weighed in with a comment along the lines of ‘Well, I have a grandchild and two children, so it’s not really something you joke about’. This is what passes for debate these days, is it? Let me see, I have two arms and perhaps one of them will be amputated some day, so does that mean I should have spent the last thirty or so years being furious about Albert Riddle, the one-armed waiter in Robin’s Nest?
Really and truly, if people want to be upset about disrespect shown to dying children, it would be far more to the point to get worked up about the attempted murder of the public hospital system in this country. Get off The Chasers’ backs, I say; at their best, they’ve contributed much more of worth in their short lives than have the vast majority of those who are waxing pompously about their ‘disgrace’.