Television | Toyboys on western television

The ZDF program “Das Zockerhaus” is sexist and homophobic. In the meantime, the format occupies the television council and artistic directors – and can still be seen

Apparently, clichés exist because they actually occur in real life. The distracted professor. The woman who wants to be conquered. The scheme here: people and circumstances are trimmed, talked about and robbed of their facets. And because we love the simple out of laziness, these clichés are durable, like family silver from the time of the emperor. One is a chick. The other a nerd. Pro7 turned it into a reality show: Beauty & The Nerd.

Anyone who thinks that one would be safe from such stereotypes with public law is wrong. The cliché-laden nonsense here is called Das Zockerhaus and is a series for children and young people. It lasts eight episodes, 24 minutes each. You can watch it online or on ZDFtivi, and it should be suitable for the entertainment and education of viewers. This is the sender order. Instead, there are allegations of sexism and homophobia in the room.

In pink unicorn bed linen

What’s the matter? Six young people play games in three pairs of two and also compete against each other in analogue competitions. Team blue, team red, team green. Whoever wins a game collects points. Anyone who loses must pay a penalty on each of the days in the gaming house.

You can see in the “Establishing Shot”: The producers have rented a hall next to a car repair shop, somewhere in a Cologne industrial area. And in it the boys allegedly move into quarters for a week. Whoever believes it! What about media literacy that we wanted young people to be able to achieve? Sucks. Finn-Luka, Lenny, Dennis, Ron, Lapo and Darren, 15 and 16 years old, come from Hamburg, Cologne and Munich. Ostler and girls are not welcome because girls don’t gamble and there are no game consoles in Rostock or Görlitz. So far, so clichéd.

The young people are moving into the warehouse loft – and from here on they are scripted. Everything that the guys say from now on and how they act is editorially predefined. Perhaps one of them fell silent in the face of the cameras. Maybe someone else said “Digga” three times in each sentence, and you wanted to avoid that. But what is now emerging are remote-controlled, inauthentic young people. Not a single idea comes from them. They must not develop a life of their own, show any idiosyncrasies, be crazy, embarrassed or sometimes arrogant and self-righteous. Apart from the obligatory and out of fairness pronounced “gg” after the game (“good game!”), The boys don’t use a gambler word. Instead, they praise the concept of the series and the cool features. You are well-behaved and neat, grandma’s darling – and annoyingly good friends with everyone and everyone. Because that is the core of the show: Can a gamer friendship (which was artificially brought about by the broadcaster two weeks before the start of shooting) endure in “real life”? The predictable answer is: Of course! Like Bolle and across the board, because – win-win – this real life is scripted reality! That comes out when you ask a question to which you know the answer beforehand and put it in the limelight: something particularly uninteresting.

The games are most likely to work. The ZDF viewers watch gamblers gamble. This is not really new, it has been around on YouTube for years. But here the young people are allowed – it cannot be avoided at all – to step out of themselves a little and thus become visible at all.

In addition to the games and competitions, the “penalties” should be the fun with this television product. The requirement: whoever loses, has to do something that is (allegedly) very uncomfortable or embarrassing. So you have to call your best friend and – smooch! – tell him how much you love him. You have to clamp girls’ hair clips. Paint each other’s fingernails. Stick glitter tattoos on your face. The masculinity of the protagonists is called into question. They are forced to do what is considered “feminine”, “childish” or “gay”. And that is then loudly called “yuck”. Two of them sleep in pink unicorn bedclothes, also as a punishment. They are asked to “make it sexy”, make a reasonable effort and are praised: “Finally you stand by your preferences!” Of course, everything is documented and disseminated via mobile phone: Bodyshaming on the open stage.

Cliché esc

If these things weren’t advertised as “punishments”, it might be okay. Painting fingernails, what’s the problem? But as it is, with a negative connotation, the fun comes out of the moth box scruffy and wasn’t funny in the Pauker films of the 1950s. In mid-September, the klische * esc association wrote an open letter to the editorial staff responsible, the ZDF television council and the representatives for youth media protection and gender equality. Since 2017, the association has been awarding the negative Golden Fence Prize for particularly crude media merits in terms of gender stereotypes. The associated homepage states that reactionary media role models restrict children not only in their understanding of their roles, but also in their relationship to their own bodies as well as in their interests and desires.

The Zockerhaus is a “deeply sexist format,” wrote the association to ZDF. It reproduces images of toxic masculinity, spreads homophobic messages and in no way satisfies the educational mandate of a public broadcasting corporation derived from Article 5, Paragraph 1, Clause 2 of the Basic Law. It does not even comply with ZDF’s own guidelines for the protection of minors in the media and equality: “We ask you to take the series out of the program and delete it from the online offerings.” But is canceling the solution? It would be wiser and finally a contribution to the education and media skills of the young viewers if the ZDF let the six guys talk about the shooting in the Zockerhaus afterwards. Uncensored and free. But that would be admitting mistakes. One would have to reveal production conditions, one could look into the cards and everyone would see that they are marked. That’s why it will never happen. An answer to the open letter is still pending. It is currently with the director, who would like to take a month to think about it. After that, the matter can be returned to the television council, which also takes four weeks to respond.

Meanwhile, Finn-Luka, Lenny, Dennis, Ron, Lapo and Darren continue to hop around a street in Cologne, reluctantly as rabbits (“Haddu carrots?”). The corner is barren, nothing going on, but it just had to be quick and, above all, cheap. They also sing in their dresses and pink wigs. Jumping into a ball pit in toddler costumes and sucking candy canes with relish. It really gets on your stomach. Dennis from Munich is a Michael Jackson fan. He can do a few moves and shows them, including Crotch Grab, the courageous grip on the crotch known from Jackson. That too. Beat it!

Read more in the current issue of Friday.

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