It is a gloomy time for the corporation. UK public service broadcaster British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), commonly seen as herald of British cultural value, faced increasing pressure to their very reason of existence.
The fact that the very same corporation itself has also botched investigation effort about what considered the greatest revelation of child abuse scandal post-war – BBC’s Newsnight shelved their investigation about Jimmy Savile before it was resurrected by ITV’s Exposure – means there’s a lot of internal problems that need to be solved by the Auntie. Documentary created with shaky arguments and some ignorance, like Stacy Dooley’s Young Sex for Sale in Japan, is not the solution.
Under The Pressure of Social Media
BBC Three today is a vestigial of its former self. The terrestrial version was launched in 1998 as BBC Choice, then rebranded as BBC Three in 2003. Cost-saving measures under “Delivering Quality First” campaign resulted the terrestrial version axed, then replaced with online-only version in February 2016.
Even when under terrestrial reign, BBC Three never focused in news and serious journalism. The only news programme in BBC Three was 60 Seconds short-bulletin that was produced by BBC News and Current Affairs department, famous for investigative programme Panorama. While NCA department oversaw some documentary programmes in BBC Three, others independently commissioned.
For example, BBC Three commissioned a show hosted by Jonathan Ross Japanorama between 2002 to 2007, covering issues on contemporary Japanese culture in a relatively fair manner. For example, this programme talks about otaku culture.
Today’s BBC Three is geared towards millennials with business model that closely emulate digital-native OTT companies like Netflix. It forces the corporation to create contents that suited the audiences that means the rigid standards of editorial policy is not closely visible in this channel.
Non-Standard Deduction Meets Western Dumbing-Down
Aside the fact that Stacey Dooley has never worked in NCA department, some of Dooley’s documentary were found contentious. While some of her programmes give another perspective behind the big issues, some of them also spark questions. The latest episode of her programme strand Stacey Dooley Investigates, called Young Sex for Sale in Japan is one of them. (For licence fee payers, it’s available to watch for free on BBC iPlayer)
The programme was opened with shoots from a street in Tokyo, then she was taken to the police office for around two hours. She then visited a maid café, saw a gravure photo shoot, then debated with Dan Kanemitsu. He was interviewed in this programme, offering his stance about 2D realm and lolicon manga, describing that loving 2D girls doesn’t translate as real-life paedophile. When he were given loaded questions by Dooley, he challenged her assumption, called it “a good venting mechanism.” Dooley ended her interview session, saying “I would prefer these explicit images that use kids to be banned.” Last, she interviewed with supposed paedophile and expressed her disgust.
While Dooley’s method of fact-gathering is clearly succeeded getting viewer’s sympathy, there are some fundamental flaws. She was fallen to the same trap that riddled Western journalist covering about Japanese pop culture. She also blatantly ignored historical researches about nature of Japanese otaku, putting her closely angled like Japanese press during Tsutomu Miyazaki’s paedophile case. All cases of “example of child abuse in Japan” in this programme was framed like there’s red string attached between all of them, offering no new evidences.
Some of her concerns are legitimate enough. The interview in the end of episode clearly demonstrate the disgusting nature of paedophile, if only it’s used properly. Instead, the interview was collided with Kanemitsu’s interview without any sound reasons. The interview with one joshi kousei, while showing these things can go wrong in personal level, is not sufficient to be used as an example of child prostitution. To demonstrate the real nature of child prostitution (or child abuse in Japan), it clearly helps to focus the scope of investigation to one particular company, especially with recent trend of Japanese police revealed cases of models forced to star in AV industry and served in brothels.
Aljazeera reports about Japan phenomenon of otaku is notorious for fallen to trap of Western stereotypes applied to Japanese society. By ignoring academical researches about Japanese society, Dooley’s documentary has also fallen to this trap. As demonstrated in recent tweets by Girls und Panzer character designer Takeshi Nogami, Dooley didn’t honorU cultural differences in Japanese society and instead forced her frame to the show.
Yearning For Real Investigation Show
Despite its success, ITV Exposure is not regularly aired anymore, but it still pursues some high-profile cases. Along with it, ITV is still broadcasting Tonight, which also features investigative journalism with more down-to earth tone.
As a public broadcaster align to British public, BBC should do more to improve its reputation. The Jimmy Savile case legacy still looms with some serious questions: is it only him alone, and are there any more examples BBC meddled with their own investigation programme?
British press is still much better compared to their Japanese counterparts. Financial Times is the media that exposed high-profile scandal in Olympus, doing what Japanese press never dared. However, this kind of documentary is not in the best interest of what licence fee payer or Japanese society wanted.
While it’s true that Japanese press don’t have such daring determination as seen in Dooley’s, we would like to see similar standard upheaved in their internal work. Instead of covering divisive things overseas, commissioning more programme with similar quality to Exposure to cover the real issues in Britain instead of half-hearted postmortem of Brexit investigation programme.
By Kevin W | The writer is a graduate from the Faculty of Humanity of Universitas Indonesia
This article is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the opinions and views of KAORI Nusantara and The Indonesian Anime Times.