A producer has been forced to apologize after Swedish TV lost any customary cultural sensitivities and broadcast a profane primetime Christmas sketch, featuring a jealous Joseph interrogating Mary over the paternity of baby Jesus.
The live sketch, broadcast on Sunday, starts with the host earnestly urging the audience to “remember why we celebrate Christmas.”
The feed then cuts to Joseph asking the heavily-pregnant Virgin Mary if someone else has been “playing the daddy” and “emptied their sack” into her. As the flurry of sexual euphemisms continues and a rubber doll Jesus is “born”, the Three Wise Men also enter, only to be asked by Joseph if they have been sleeping with his wife. The scene ends with Joseph asking in another single-entendre, “Who left the locomotive in the degreasing room?”
The scene was broadcast as part of one of the most cherished televisual traditions in Sweden, the Bingolotto Christmas special, a multi-hour variety performance spun off from a festive edition of a successful game show.
While the five-minute sketch passed without any comment from the country’s media, unhappy viewers began to make their voices heard on the Facebook page of broadcaster TV4, with complaints over both the language and tone of the comedy.
“I can understand the audience reactions, and I can only regret that they felt this way,”said Gustav Carlsson, TV4’s executive producer, asked to comment by tabloid Expressen.
He explained that the sketch had been concocted and partly improvised by his celebrity guests, and defended it as an act of “artistic freedom.”
Sweden has hate crime legislation that provides for punishments, of even custodial sentences, for “insulting a person, an ethnic group or another such group of people by reason of their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, creed, or sexual orientation,” though mainstream satire is often exempted from such laws.