British TV station Channel 4 has defended a situation comedy about the Irish Famine, saying that “brilliant humor can come out of times of terrible hardship.”
After I wrote about this abomination of an idea (let’s do Holocaust victims and Ebola victims next, I suggested) a petition, now numbering 6,000 signatures, was started to demand this program not be made.
Despite this, Channel 4 seems determined to move ahead.
A spokesperson confirmed to Irish media site Dailyedge.ie that the channel has commissioned the script from Dublin writer Hugh Travers, but added it is only in the early stages of development.
“We have commissioned a script set in 19th century Ireland by Dublin-based writer Hugh Travers and Irish-based production company Grand Pictures – however this is in the development process and is not currently planned to air,” said the spokesperson.
Defending the idea for the series the spokesperson added, ”It’s not unusual for sitcoms to exist against backdrops that are full of adversity and hardship.”
The channel then cited the likes of “Blackadder Goes Forth,” “M*A*S*H” and “Dad’s Army” as examples of “brilliant humor coming out of times of terrible hardship.”
God, that would be hilarious if it wasn't so ridiculous.
British show “Dad’s Army” is about participants in the Second World War defense of Britain, “M*A*S*H” about American soldiers in the Korean war, and British show “Blackadder Goes Forth” about the British Army in World War One.
None of these series are about defenseless millions who either starved to death or were forced to flee in Famine coffin ships. The proper comparison is the Holocaust, and we haven't seen too many comedies about that have we?
In the Korean context the proper sitcom would be one about the suffering of millions from famine conditions there because of the Kim Jong Il dynasty.
Great comedy material you’ll agree.
The Channel 4 spokesperson acknowledged the “huge reaction” the sitcom had generated from members of the public thus far and stated that “clearly a unique kind of dark humor” will be required to tackle the subject.
Sounds like a company desperately trying to back away from an insane project in my book.
Here in the U.S. the AOH, the largest Irish American group, has joined the fray. National President Brendan Moore stated on behalf of his 30,000 members, “It is shocking to maintain that anyone would be so callous, indifferent, or even heartless as to cash in on comedy in the face of any group's immense tragedy.
“What will be next? Will we now be brought to laughter at the recent assassinations of two of our NYPD officers?”
Neil Cosgrove, head of the AOH Anti-Defamation Committee, wrote eloquently to the head of Channel 4 David Abraham.
“I must confess Mr. Abraham to being at a loss how anyone can believe that the death of at minimum one million people and the forced emigration of another million can be construed by any person with a shred of decency or compassion to be a fit subject for comedy," Cosgrove wrote.
“If Channel 4 is to have any credibility as a responsible organization they must repudiate Mr. Travers’ Famine based comedy. I and the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians request that this project of Mr. Travers be immediately canceled and a public apology be issued by Channel 4 to the Irish community worldwide.”
However, Channel 4 and Hugh Travers have their defenders, including the Rubberbandits, the Limerick twosome who have become huge figures in Irish comedy.
“To every Irish person getting offended that C4 have commissioned a sitcom about the famine. This is why Joyce and Beckett left the country,” they tweeted.