David McSavage accuses RTÉ of ‘dictatorial’ censorship

Comedian's Wild Nuns sketch is a parody of the Diet Coke ad and features a crucified Jesus

A screen grab of the Wild Nuns sketch.

A screen grab of the Wild Nuns sketch.

Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 20:34

Comedian David McSavage has accused RTÉ of engaging in “dictatorial” censorship by refusing to broadcast a sketch entitled Wild Nuns.

The sketch is a parody of the Diet Coke advertisement and involves three nuns staring at a semi-naked muscle-bound Jesus on the cross.

This evening the comedian released an email which he said came from RTÉ where he was warned the sketch might suggest the broadcaster had “no respect for the sacredness that Christian viewers attribute to this iconography”.

The email went on to warn that broadcasting the sketch could “very quickly generate the potential for justifiable offence from viewers of the Christian faith”.

The sketch was due to be part of the fourth episode of the new series of Savage Eye, but was not broadcast.

McSavage, whose real name is David Andrews, released the sketch online himself today. He said RTÉ was focused on a part of Ireland that would be “offended that probably doesn’t exist anymore”.

However, RTÉ was adamant the sketch should not be broadcast. It stated that a sexualised image of Jesus on the cross was “unbroadcastable” and suggested that an image which showed his legs pushing a wheelbarrow with part of the cross visible was all they would allow.

McSavage said there was a serious issue involved in the sketch relating to censorship.

“These things are important. Ultimately you are talking about freedom of speech and who says where the line is,” he said. “I would be pissed off on somebody else’s behalf if it happened to them.”

He doubted if Christians would be offended by the sketch. “Is their faith so insecure that they would really be offended by this?

“The way I feel at the moment is that the best and the brightest are leaving the country in their droves,” he said. “Even if you are not stupid, you feel stupid for not leaving somehow.

“It is nice to feel that you are living in a country that is secular, forward-thinking and things are moving in the right direction, then things like this happen and you think we’re still in the same country.”

The sketch was filmed several months ago, long before the current controversy over mother and baby homes drew attention to several congregations of nuns operating in Ireland.

McSavage said he has made the video public to show “what we’re up against”.

“Ultimately, it speaks to the kind of repression and the denial of sexuality which is so damaging to us. It is trying to get to the truth of something,” he said.

“I actually spoke to a woman once who said she was a bit embarrassed about how attracted she was to the body of Christ because he is always portrayed in such a muscular way.”

The row over the wild nuns sketch has echoes of the row over the Monty Python film The Life of Brian which was banned in many countries including Ireland because of its mockery of the crucifixion.

In a statement this evening, RTÉ said: “The Savage Eye contains some of the most challenging and biting satire broadcast on Irish television and the current season which ends tonight has been particularly potent and at times controversial.

“RTÉ, having considered its own guidelines, and mindful of broadcasting legislation and codes, judged that this sketch as presented could cause undue offence.”

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