Tuesday night the Norwegian TV channel TVNorge (TV Norway) broadcasted an episode of the humor show «Anne-Kat», where girls in Oslo got to participate in a contest to win tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.
(Watch the video with english sub titles at the bottom of this page)
The catch? They had to «convert» to Islam.
The girls had to remove all make-up, put on a hijab and read something which allegedly was an Islamic creed, in Arabic. They also had to read out loud an Arabic text about «Justin Bieber being unclean and probably gay».
«We wanted to find out how far Norwegian beliebers are willing to go for tickets to one of the concerts», tv-show host Anne-Kat Hærland said while introducing the episode.
Bishop Halvor Nordhaug, from the Norwegian Lutheran Church, thinks the episode testifies to Hærlands’s lack of understanding of how much faith means for a lot of people.
«This is an example of an idea where irony and lack of respect turns into something tragic.»
Nordhaug is critical of the episode, which he believes creates an impression that Justin Bieber is more important than faith, and that people are willing to change religion for a concert ticket.
«I believe this [the contest] is a foolish statement and it shows a lack of respect for what faith means,« he says.
«It is really pathetic»
Spokesperson Jens Brun-Pedersen in Human-etisk Forbund (The Humanist Association in Norway) disagrees with the bishop. He believes humor should provoke and that comedians should have respect for as little as possible.
«Generally, I want to say that humor ought to challenge not only Islam, but also Christianity, Humanism, politics and economy. In my perspective, it is one of the comedian’s tasks to challenge people in power. We may also discuss whether or not something is tasteless, but I don’t want to get into that as I have not seen this particular episode.»
Brun-Pedersen also says it sounds like this TV show has pointed out the Bieber-fever.
«One might see this just as much as an irony about the crazyness surrounding «Jostein Beaver», as I like to call him.»
TV Norge’s head of communication, Svein Tore Bergestuen underscores that he has not been involved with the production of the episode in question.
«Anne-Kat. and her crew have the freedom to create a funny TV show. It is not up to us to question their judgement about what is funny and what is not.»
Bergestuen thinks that if a TV show ought to be funny these days, the comedians must be allowed much liberty.
«But that liberty comes with a responsibility. However, in light of this particular episode there is much left before they have crossed any boundaries.»