The Broadcasting Standards Authority has rejected two complaints about a line on the popular TVNZ drama Shortland Street.
In the episode the new CEO of the Shortland Street hospital said: “Puffed up, privileged Pakeha men drunk on control, terrified of change … we are the future, Esther, not them,” in a reference to the hospital’s management team.
Denis Hall complained that this scene was “blatantly racist, sexist and ageist” for its portrayal of ‘white males’ as “unreasonable, arrogant and dangerous with nothing to offer”.
Peter Large, meanwhile, complained that the character’s use of the phrase “puffed up Pakeha privilege”, was subversive and disgusting. Mr Large submitted that if “Māori replaced ‘Pakeha’ in the line, it would be considered racist.”
The BSA says it did not agree that the character’s fictional dialogue encouraged the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community.
And it added: “Nor do we consider that the segment would have unduly offended or distressed viewers given the wider context of the broadcast, including that it was a fictional drama classified PGR, with well-established audience expectations. The scene in question was crucial in the development of Te Rongopai’s character in the narrative and helped establish her perspective for viewers.”