Rachel Smalley: Bravo's decision to broadcast racial slur unjustifiable

I wrote yesterday about the Bravo channel broadcasting a racial slur on The Real Housewives of Auckland - one woman used the n-word in reference to another woman of English and Jamaican ethnicity.

The Herald carried the story at the weekend, and The Spinoff website was given a copy of the show to review before it was broadcast.

And Bravo, the broadcaster, spent some time trying to contact me yesterday after I was critical of the channel's decision to air that comment. I accused Bravo of being irresponsible for broadcasting it, and using it in a ratings drive to ultimately satisfy advertisers - but at what cost?

Anyway, at the same time that all this was going on, in the UK, Paul Gascoigne was in court. He's the former England footballer. You may remember him, a brilliant footballer but a bad boy with a few addiction issues.

He was in court yesterday to plead guilty to "racially aggravated abuse". He was hosting an evening - it was an evening with Gazza in Wolverhampton - and during the show he humiliated a black security guard who'd been assigned to protect him. The guard was standing in a dimly lit area of the stage, and Gazza said to him in front of his audience "can you smile please, because I can't see you."

Some of the crowd got up and walked out. Many complained and the police stepped in to investigate what they said was a hate crime - and Gazza ended up in court.

The judge fined him and ordered him to pay compensation, and this is what the judge said...

He said, "you sought to get a laugh from an audience because of the colour of a man's skin...

"As a society, it's important that we challenge racially aggravated behaviour in all its forms. It is this creeping low-level racism that society still needs to challenge."

Now compare that with what occurred here last night. In a pre-recorded show, Bravo chose to broadcast this episode and edit in this comment that included the 'n-word'. And they broadcast it at prime time.

Why? What possible justification could there be to broadcast it? There is none. It was useful, I'm sure, to promote the show - but how vile is that? Using one of the most offensive words in the English language to help shunt up the ratings?

In the UK, in the judge's final summing up to Gazza, he said this - and I think there's a message to us all in this, not least to the producers of the Real Housewives programme and to Bravo as well.....

He said "we live in the 21st century. Grow up with it, or keep your mouth closed".

Nice line, don't you think?

Rachel Smalley hosts Early Edition on Newstalk ZB

- Newstalk ZB

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