Last night, I watched an episode of Celebrity Juice, the “hilarious topical panel show” presented by “madcap host Keith Lemon”. Normally, the two team captains are Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton, however, as Willoughby has just had a baby, she was replaced by Chris Moyles.
I’d never watched the show before, and didn’t really understand what was happening. I had been drinking for most of the day, which I assumed would help get me into the right frame of mind to enjoy the programme but even this wasn’t enough.
Chris Moyles took part in a round called “Be A Dingbat”, where he had to get the answers wrong. Lemon explains:
You’ve got to answer incorrectly, but it can’t just be random, it has to have some relevance.
I like the “it has to have some relevance” qualifier as it’s a sort of admission that it’s actually not a very good idea for a round on a quiz show.
The round started with the first question:
Lemon: What did you set the world record for last month?
We’re already off to a good start. Moyles demonstrating the wit which has made him famous.
Lemon asked a couple more questions which Moyles correctly answered incorrectly. One question got him a bit confused.
Lemon: Is Fearne Cotton a good DJ?
After a slight pause, Moyles answered “No”. Fearne was upset by the length of time it had taken Moyles to work out how to answer that question, so Moyles asked Keith to repeat the question and this time he answered it a lot quicker to appease Fearne.
Then, Keith asked the next question:
Lemon: Is Fearne Cotton good in bed?
Cotton: The answer is you don’t know. The answer is you don’t know and you won’t know.
Moyles: No, I do know, you don’t – rohypnol!
The audience laughed and the quiz continued.
I felt the “rohypnol” joke wasn’t very funny. I mean, it’s not actually even really a joke. Moyles is saying he knows what it’s like to have sex with Fearne Cotton despite the fact she doesn’t remember it because he drugged her with rohypnol. Even aside from the fact that it’s a really unpleasant thing to say, it doesn’t even make sense. You can’t judge whether someone is good in bed by giving them rohypnol and raping them. It’s not a fair test. It’s not an accurate way of assessing their sexual prowess. The victim may not be giving their best performance because of the sedative effect of the drug.
I mentioned it on Twitter:
I am watching "Celebrity Juice" on ITV2. Chris Moyles made a joke about giving Fearne Cotton rohypnol and fucking her and everyone laughed.—
James Ward (@iamjamesward) April 23, 2011
I don't mean to sound all PC or anything, but surely it's not cool for someone to make jokes about drug raping women on TV.—
James Ward (@iamjamesward) April 23, 2011
A few people agreed that it was kind of an unacceptable thing to say. I noticed that the actor Charlie Condou had tweeted about how funny he thought the programme was and wondered if he thought the “rohypnol” comment in particular was funny:
Charlie later explained that he misunderstood my question and just meant that the programme as a whole was hilarious and that obviously date rape isn’t funny. I suppose the question “Did you like the bit when Moyles joked about drug raping Fearne Cotton?” is a bit ambiguous and does sort of look like “What did you think of that episode of Celebrity Juice?”. It’s an easy mistake to make.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Chris Moyles made an unpleasant comment (that’s his job, after all). It’s just sad that it seems OK to make jokes like that. It’s sad that no-one bothered to challenge him. It’s sad that it’s broadcast on a mainstream comedy programme, even if it is only ITV2. It made me sad. I don’t really have anything more to say about it. It just made me sad.
You could argue that people should be allowed to make jokes about any subject, and I agree, but the trade-off there is that the joke should be funny and “I do know, you don’t – rohypnol” isn’t funny1.
1 In fact, you may have noticed that I was able to criticise Chris Moyles’ “rohypnol” joke by suggesting that the main problem with the joke is that it’s logically (rather than morally) flawed. As if to say it is the lack of logic that I find more disturbing than the joke itself and that I have no specific objection to using rohypnol to have sex with someone but think it’s unfair to then use that experience to judge how good the person is in bed. This is (sort of) a joke about (sort of) the same thing as Chris Moyles’ original joke, but my joke is better because I am cleverer than Chris Moyles.