Stop the mockery of the mentally ill on the Footy Show's 'Street Talk'
To: Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell
Dear David Gyngell, Sam Newman’s weekly segment ‘street talk’ on Channel Nine’s ‘The Footy Show’ deliberately preys upon on those within our community who suffer from learning difficulties, social integration challenges and mental illnesses, stripping them of their dignity for the purpose of entertainment, and it should be removed immediately. This segment specifically, and almost exclusively, exploits the challenges that these brave individuals face everyday, making them a source of amusement for the masses. There is a clear manipulation of a definite power imbalance that therefore makes this segment akin to bullying. There can be no room made for the institutionally sanctioned mockery of mental illness within our society. By you providing such public consent to the de-humanisation of our fellow citizens based on their mental health or social interactive ability, it becomes impossible for us to discourage similar behaviour within our schools, universities or workplaces. This issue has never been more urgent given the current crisis of bullying found at all levels of our society and the disastrous consequences of bullying faced particularly by our young people. The exploitation of a perceived weakness in an individual for the amusement of the masses has no place in a progressive society. Bullying needs to stop and I urge you David to take the lead on this critical issue by removing the street talk segment and acknowledging that it does not fit with the otherwise strong values of the footy show and your network.
Why is this important?
Mental illness is no laughing matter. The challenges faced by those who struggle with mental illnesses and learning difficulties are real and should not be exploited for our entertainment. 'Street Talk' exploits a clear power imbalance which is akin to bullying. Bullying is a critical issue in our society and when so publicly sanctioned and celebrated a bullying culture is created which in turn makes it almost impossible to educate our young people that to laugh at or mock an individual's struggles is not o.k. These individuals deserve their dignity like everyone else. To de-humanise them for a cheap laugh has no place in a progressive society.