BBC Trust rules Lindsay Lohan ‘lesbian jokes’ reinforced homophobic stereotypes
A BBC3 programme in which lesbians were described as “munters” was crude and offensive, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) has found.
The Most Annoying People of 2008, which was broadcast in December last year, featured commentators who said female Hollywood superstars should be saved for heterosexuals and talked about ejaculating on Lohan and her then-girlfriend Samantha Ronson.
PinkNews.co.uk broke the story after the programme was branded as “gratuitously sexist and homophobic” by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell. PinkNews.co.uk reader Georgina Burns said it left her “with a bad taste” in her mouth.
The BBC initially said the programme was “irreverent” and the comments were “light-hearted fashion with no malicious intent”.
It was broadcast in two parts, with the second part of the programme listing Lohan and Ronson at number 43.
During the programme, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Spooney said of lesbians: “Let the munters and mingers get each other. That’s cool. Nobody wants them.”
He then referred to Lohan and Ronson: “But when they’re hot and fit…you know what I mean?
“Hollywood superstars: they should be saved for guys.”
Porn actor Ron Jeremy made several explicit references to ejaculating on the couple.
The ESC found that the remarks were not editorially justified and were not suitable for broadcast. It also decided that the comments were offensive and reinforced stereotypical views about lesbians.
The decision said: ”The remarks made by DJ Spoony and Ron Jeremy were crude and offensive in their targeting of Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson.
”Even given the wider context of the programme as being ‘irreverent’ and focusing on the lighter side of celebrity, the committee believed these particular remarks exceeded the expectations of an audience familiar with the BBC’s broadcasting values.
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”Rather than ‘sending up a common attitude adopted by heterosexual people,’ the committee believed that it appeared to reinforce stereotypical views.
”The committee concluded that these comments were offensive and made stereotypical assumptions which were not editorially justified.
”On this basis the programme was in breach of the editorial guidelines.”
Burns, the PinkNews.co.uk reader who made the complaint, said she took the issue all the way to the BBC Trust after finding that her concerns were not adequately answered.
Burns said: “I persevered because the response at the earlier stages was so unapologetic. I was told that the comments on the show were in jest and that they simply parodied narrow-minded straight , sexist men and therefore were okay. They just didn’t get it and I absolutely believed that there was a deep sexism/lesbophobia at the heart of their intransigence.
“I’m really pleased that the trust upheld the complaint. I also know that some new guidelines on taste and decency were issued while my complaint was being considered which may have affected the outcome.”