Category Archives: television

Seinfeld makes it to court

I’ve written previously on how Alice in Wonderland has made it into many Court judgments. Well, now Jerry and Elaine have made it into a judgment too!

In Parish Oil Co Inc v Dillon Companies Inc, the US Court of Appeals in Colorado mentioned Seinfeld in an anti-trust case:

Indeed, the plaintiffs’ reading would apparently render unlawful in the State of Colorado a promotional gimmick so common that it features in an episode from Seinfeld:

JERRY: “Atomic Sub”? Why are you eating there?

ELAINE: I got a card, and they stamp it every time I buy a sub. Twenty four stamps, and I become a Submarine Captain!

JERRY: What does that mean?

ELAINE (embarrassed): Free sub.

Seinfeld: The Strike (NBC television broadcast Dec. 18, 1997).

If the first twenty-four sandwiches are sold for $4 apiece at a cost to the maker of $3, the customer who follows through and redeems the offer will have spent $96 to buy $75 worth of sandwiches. But the last one is sold below cost (in fact, it is “free”), making it illegal under the plaintiffs’ version of the UPA. We do not believe the Colorado legislature would have acted so cavalierly as to ban such customer-rewards programs—indeed, to make them criminal—without more clearly expressing an intent to do so.

The plaintiff had sought to challenge a scheme whereby consumers at a particular supermarket got reduced cost petrol from a particular supplier if they had purchased groceries of a specified value. I’m sure this is familiar to all and sundry (our house abounds in vouchers for cut-price petrol from various outlets).

I think it’s awesome that the Court used Seinfeld to illustrate its point.

Now my only wish is that a court use the episode from Treehouse of Horror IV  to illustrate the concept of nemo dat quod non habet (you cannot give what you do not have). In a portion of this episode, Ned Flanders appears as the devil and tempts Homer with a donut in exchange for his soul. Homer, of course, accepts the offer and signs the contract. He cannot resist eating all of the donut, and the devil appears to claim his soul. However, Marge and Lisa are able to show that Homer could not give his soul to the devil because he had already given his soul to Marge on their wedding day (Marge produces a signed photo as evidence of this). Accordingly, the devil cannot take Homer’s soul, but turns his head into a huge donut… There you have it: nemo dat quod non habet in a nutshell.

Well, I’m a property lawyer, of course my wishes are nerdy.

(Via Core Economics)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under consumer affairs, crazy stuff, humour, judges, law, property, television

Not so funny…

On Wednesday night, The Chaser featured a song which poked fun at Princess Di, Steve Irwin, Peter Brock, Stan Zemanek, Don Bradman, Kerry Packer and other dead celebrities. It has been widely slammed by politicians. The Herald Sun editorial says that the song “gratuitously slandered people whose memories are cherished by Australians.”

Chris Taylor, the author of the song, said “I think it makes a fair enough point that people who were flawed in life are often disproportionately hailed as saints in death.”

I’m not a fan of the hagiography surrounding dead celebrities in the media. Just to take an example from The Chaser’s list of celebrities, I must confess that I found the massive outpouring of grief at the death of Princess Diana to be bizarre. While she was alive, I didn’t have much time for her. I don’t know that I’d go as far as Germaine Greer’s biting criticism, but I always found her to be a sad person rather than a person to be admired. I am sure she did some good things, but there are others whom I admire far more. That being said, I found the nature of her death to be tragic because she was a young woman, a mother of two small boys, and it was a horrible way to die. But I certainly didn’t feel personally bereaved in any sense. 

I don’t know if I’m unusual; I don’t connect with media celebrities in the way that many other people seem to. When I was a teenager, I never had crushes on celebrity actors, and wondered if I was abnormal. I did, however, have crushes on imaginary fictional characters (eg,  Faramir in Lord of the Rings – swoon!). I think I would feel more of a sense of personal loss at the death of an esteemed judge rather than a celebrity. Perhaps that just proves I’m a nerd.

I would be interested to know about the psychology of mass outpourings of public grief. Often we are encouraged to hide our grief, but perhaps when there is a death of a much-admired celebrity, the public expression of grief becomes acceptable. Maybe people feel that they can grieve their own loved ones as well as grieving for a celebrity? And I think the very imperfections of the people mentioned in the song was part of their attraction, and the reason why people identified with them. It made people feel better about their own relationship troubles, mistakes and the like.

So, unlike the Herald Sun, I wouldn’t say that I cherished the memory of any of the people mentioned in the song. But nor would I deliberately make fun of their deaths. It just seems like bad taste. The fact remains that the people mentioned in the song still have families who are distressed by the death of loved ones. And I would not want to distress them further by making fun of those deaths. I think it was “cheap” of The Chaser to court notoriety in this fashion. I’ve never had that much time for them anyway: I don’t really like cruel humour of that type.

7 Comments

Filed under freedom of speech, humour, media, society, television

Baby Einstein not so smart

I wrote a post a while back on feeling guilty where I spoke about the lack of exposure my child has had to Baby Einstein and educational DVDs. A new study has posited that showing educational DVDs to children has little or no educational benefit, and may actually harm them. So I’ll scrub away that particular guilt-creator.

While I don’t show educational DVDs to my daughter, I’m not going to be one of those mothers who bans her child from television. My daughter now loves Playschool, and when the opening music comes on, she shouts “Blayscoo!” I have to say (don’t tell anyone) that I quite enjoy it too. Whereas the Wiggles make me want to eat my own leg off. And Dorothy the Dinosaur’s show is atrocious. The fairies are the worst actors I’ve ever seen. Not that my daughter cares – she shouts “Dino!” and claps. So I put up with it, just for her.

8 Comments

Filed under children's television, education, motherhood, parenthood, television

Eurovision

We have just finished watching the craziness that is Eurovision. My friends “The Wordies” and I have been devotees of Eurovision for many years now. We love the kitsch factor. Our special favourites are: costume changes mid-act, strange dance routines, glittering costumes, terrible 80s outfits, odd costumes (like the “monsters” who won last year)  and crazy set machinery (like the guy last year who popped out of a piano at the end of a song).

We usually get together every year to watch the finals. The only condition is that everyone has to bring a European dish. This year, I made French onion soup. Now the whole house smells like onions. But at least it tasted pretty good.

I was slightly disappointed as far as kitsch value went. No one popped out of pianos. No one dressed in monster costumes. Okay, Belarus had an act which involved dancers suspended on moving screens, and Greece had a terribly cheesy fellow spinning on a black and white circle, but I was hoping for worse. For example, what about the time the Austrian animal activist chanted slogans in German while dancers dressed up as animals danced around him? Or the time the Israelis made three costume changes during the one song? Or the Lithuanians who sang “We Are the Winners of Eurovision”? The English entry was, as always, terrible, but in a cringe worthy rather than an amusing way. On a positive note, the French did not field a Celine Dion “sing-a-like entry” this year. Thank God for small mercies.

Serbia wins

This year, Serbia won. Serbia split from Montenegro last year after a disagreement over the choice of team. Marija Serifovic sang a love ballad in Serbo-Croat, surrounded by a group of beautiful women in men’s suits (official site here). The runner up was the Ukraine with a drag-queen in a silver outfit, with a mirror-ball headdress. (I’m glad the drag-queen did well, because apparently she had been threatened by Ukrainian far-right groups after it was announced that she was competing for Ukraine). I guess I can’t complain too much about the kitsch value when drag acts took first and second place!

My only disappointment lies in the fact that I’m a sucker for mid-song costume changes, and there weren’t any this year. The gothic costumes were also disappointing. The “vampire act” from Switzerland was apparently eliminated in the semi-final. Sweden’s act looked very gothic but sounded very mainstream.

Still, it’s an addiction, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more next year. (I hope there’s at least some mid-song costume changes. Or at least someone popping out of a piano.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Eurovision, television, wordies

Big Brother is watching you…

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.” (1984, George Orwell)

Apparently there has been privacy problems with Channel 10’s Big Brother website. Fans are able to sign up for access to “special features” on the website, but this has led to fans’ personal details (including credit card details) being available to all and sundry.

Does anyone else find this as ironically amusing as I do? Or am I just a sick puppy? (Don’t answer that).

1 Comment

Filed under crazy stuff, privacy, television

It’s all a big con…

Yesterday evening, we had the television on in the background when a show called “Con” came on at 11pm (Channel 7). I think it was the first episode of the series.

The premise of the show is this: Skyler Stone is a con artist who shows people how to rip off businesses and people. He gets a free burger by pretending to have food allergies (which really gives me the pip as someone who genuinely suffers from severe food allergies) and manages to convince a ski resort that he and two friends are part of a boy band and need the entire slope closed down.

I only lasted 5 minutes: I couldn’t watch past the bit where Skyler got the free burger. My husband lasted about 15 minutes more, and said that part of the con involved this guy pretending that he was getting over some debilitating disease. Then he had to stop watching because he couldn’t stand it any more either.

I found this show repugnant and immoral. Perhaps it’s because I want to believe the best of everyone, which is exactly what this guy plays on. Perhaps it’s because I see it as essentially stealing from these businesses: stealing their products, time and effort. Perhaps it’s because Skyler Stone is a total TOOL. I’m pleased to say that most of the comments on IMDb are anti-Con – it has an average score of 1.8 out of 10 stars.

Maybe I’m getting old and cranky…but I really wonder what the world is coming to when people think stuff like that is amusing. It’s a step further down the rung from reality television… reality crime. What’s next? Reality war? I don’t even want to joke about it.

Leave a comment

Filed under society, television

Free Speech and Big Brother

I once shared an office with a girl who was from Vietnam. One day, she came into the office with an awed expression. “What happened?” I asked.

“I saw a protest on the way to work!” she exclaimed. As the explanation came tumbling out, it transpired she’d seen some sort of protest against the government. What had really shocked her was that some of the protesters had pairs of balloons and they had burst them, laughing and saying “We’re busting Howard’s balls!”

“So what?” I said. “Seems like a childish kind of protest, but it’s funny too.”

She looked me squarely in the eye and said, “If anyone protested against the government in Vietnam, they’d be gaoled.”

I became aware of how lucky we are to have freedom of speech, even to do silly things like burst “virtual testicles”.

This leads me to the topic of “Big Brother”. I should declare my bias at the start. I can’t stand reality TV. It makes my skin crawl to see all those people back-biting, fighting and bullying. As I said to my husband, “There’s enough of that in a law firm without having to watch it at night.” But my general belief is that networks should be free to air such programmes, even if I find them repulsive.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that “Big Brother” has crossed the line. In fact, I thought it crossed the line last year when a male housemate apparently put his genitalia into a female housemate’s hair when massaging her. Now reports suggest a male housemate held down a female housemate while a second male housemate “playfully” stuck his genitalia into her face. Both female “victims” have said that they were not offended. Maybe I’m just a prude. But I sure as hell would be offended if these things happened to me!

I note that the two men are not going to be charged with assault, and that it is doubtful whether assault charges can be laid where there is no complaint. In any case, it seems to me that the television station has encouraged housemates to engage in exhibitionist and stupid behaviour. I understand it may be fined, and I certainly think that it should be answerable for creating the situation whereby these events can occur.

It’s a sad state of affairs when that’s what Australian commercial television has to offer.

5 Comments

Filed under freedom of speech, media, television