The Matty Johns show has been widely condemned after a controversial joke about Hitler on Sunday night.
Discussing the NRL’s new ‘Fan in the Stands’ promotion in which punters can pay $22 to have their face appear on a cardboard cut-out at games, the show ran a gag in which they superimposed Hitler onto one of the cut-outs.
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A number of real-life gags that punters pulled off over the weekend included one fan’s dog, controversial British politician Dominic Cummings and an infamous serial killer appearing in the stands.
So in response, the Matty Johns show joked about having Hitler appear on one of the cardboard cut-outs.
The gag sparked immediate condemnation from fans, sporting identities and the Jewish community.
The CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry led the outrage.
“This sort of stupidity, the casualisation of Hitler, Nazis, and by extension their crimes, is what leads to swastikas being graffitied throughout our cities and school kids being harassed with gas chamber jokes,” Alex Ryvchin tweeted.
“@FOXNRLLive & @MattyShowsFox should tell their viewers it’s not on.”
The Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission also slammed the joke.
“This is bad taste and trivialisation of mass murder taken to the extreme,” Dr Dvir Abramovich wrote.
“When a monster such as Hitler, responsible for the deaths of millions of people, including 1.5 million children and more than 30,000 Diggers, features as a punchline and a gag on a sports show you know we have hit another low in the trivialisation of the Holocaust.
“Nazi jokes should be completely off-limits and, the presenters and producers of the show crossed so many red lines, I stopped counting.
“Using Hitler to elicit a laugh is inexcusable, degrades the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, and is hurtful to survivors and their children.
“I hope that the people involved in this sorry episode reflect on their actions and apologise for a sketch that simply went too far.”
Victorian MP Josh Burns commented on a screenshot of the joke, saying: “Please tell me this didn’t actually happen.”
Fox Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb said: “People justifying this that it was a joke photoshopped in by the Matty Johns show don’t realise that that doesn’t actually make it acceptable. You know what’s not funny? Hitler. Hitler isn’t funny.”
While veteran football writer Ray Gatt wrote: “Hitler is not a piss-take. Never will be … Anything to do with Hitler is not only dangerous but absolutely offensive.”
This sort of stupidity, the casualisation of Hitler, Nazis, and by extension their crimes, is what leads to swastikas being graffitied throughout our cities and school kids being harassed with gas chamber jokes. @FOXNRLLive & @MattyShowsFox should tell their viewers it’s not on. https://t.co/sCuhom5GbY— Alex Ryvchin (@AlexRyvchin) May 31, 2020
Please tell me this didn't actually happen...— Josh Burns (@joshburnsmp) May 31, 2020
Hitler is not a pisstake mate. Never will be.— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) May 31, 2020
I’m speechless. How on earth did no one stop this going to air?— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) May 31, 2020
WWII and the holocaust is still a very fresh pain for many people. Even 75 years later.
People justifying this that it was a joke photoshopped in by the Matty Johns show don’t realise that that doesn’t actually make it acceptable.— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) May 31, 2020
You know what’s not funny? Hitler. Hitler isn’t funny. https://t.co/JpO9rR5KUX
Wasn’t quite expecting to see the phrases “NRL” and “hitler” together this evening, yet here we are. 🤦♂️— Stuart Randall (@StuartRandall) May 31, 2020
Shockingly offensive- but the show has superimposed those images of both hitler and r wilkins, they were never at the actual game. Which not intended to minimise the offence— Annerrrrr (@rrranger1) May 31, 2020
Serial killer’s face causes controversy
While most have praised the ‘Fan in the Stands’ gimmick, some watching the Panthers and Knights game on Sunday noticed the face of a notorious serial killer on one of the cardboard cut-outs.
Users on Reddit pointed out that Harold Fredrick Shipman’s face was in the stands - an English doctor believed to be the worst serial killer in history.
Shipman took his own life after being sentenced to life in prison in 2004.
He was found guilty of the murder of 15 patients in 2000, but it is believed he had more than 250 victims.
Fans were less than impressed that the image of the serial killer found its way into the stands and on TV screens.
In Australia the NRL has resumed with no crowds, so people can pay for a cardboard cutout of themselves to be placed in the crowd and show up on TV.— Jed (@JedRose17) May 31, 2020
Someone did this today with the face of Harold Shipman, the most prolific serial killer in modern history pic.twitter.com/CErpxForP6