John Safran TV Pilots

Exposing an industry that prefers oppression to self-scrutiny

John Safran made a name for himself in 1997 as the standout-best entrant in the Australian Broadcasting Commission's groundbreaking documentary competition show Race Around The World, but was denied his due when the ABC, demonstrating that pusillanimity is not limited to commercial enterprises, declined to broadcast his final piece out of fear of negative reaction from the usual sector. The ABC's lamentable reaction to controversial material was to prove a portent of things to come when Safran, continuing his momentum, decided to examine things a little closer to home. He filmed two pilots for what was ostensibly intended to be a comedy show for the ABC, but the final product goes far beyond comedy. The pieces are, in fact, genius, which is to say so astute and incisive that the ABC once again refused to broadcast them, other than a small fragment on Media Watch, the sole other voice of integrity in the cult of mediocrity that is Australian television.

However, fortunately for modern citizens, the means of global information distribution is now in their hands. We are proud to present these gems to you in digital RealVideo format, free from the meddling corruption of normative mass media control. We apologise for any imperfections inherent in the medium--it is rumoured that the possibility of a CD-ROM release of this material is being considered, but until then we urge you to download and circulate these files, both for your own access and to assist those with less connectivity in experiencing the insight therein. Enjoy, plan your own expository stunts, and above all, think.

John Safran - Media Tycoon

The most famous segment of this first pilot is of course John Safran beating Ray Martin at his own game--the sight of "our Ray" scuffling with Safran in the street like the media thug he is is the most poignant image to grace the small screen in recent memory. However, the rest of the episode is equally exquisite and hilarious if not so immediately marketable.

You may download John Safran - Media Tycoon in two RealVideo segments: Segment 1
Segment 2
Or watch the entire episode online as a multipart stream.

John Safran - Master Chef

Safran again goes after media images in this food-based piece, but includes megacorporate business and community attitudes in his line of fire. One is left with no doubt as to the identity of the real sheep in the brilliant exposure of voluntary doublethink contained here. The core points in this second pilot have been criticised as more obvious, but by the same token the messages present and hypocrisies scrutinised are perhaps more accessible to those unfamiliar with the Australian specifics.

You may download John Safran - Master Chef in two RealVideo segments: Segment 1
Segment 2
Or watch the entire episode online as a multipart stream.

Media reaction to free speech issues

The reaction of Channel 9's lawyers with the collaboration of the ABC was an immediate attempt to suppress this material, even going so far as to successfully pressure the University of Queensland into the highly questionable move, to put it mildly, of shutting down student and internet Safran benefactor Robert Whyte's legitimate webpage merely for having hyperlinks to the documentaries. In this excerpt from Graham Cairns' radio show, Whyte discusses the media response and Kim Heitman, president of Electronic Frontiers Australia, talks about the Australian government's laughably misguided yet worrisomely serious attempts to censor internet content.

You may download Censorship and King Canute as a RealAudio file;
Or listen to the excerpt online as streaming audio.

Utmost gratitude is directed to Robert Whyte and Corey Layton for making this important material available.

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