The 6,000 Euro Insult

On German T.V., there’s extremely highbrow (3-hour documentaries about opera stars), high-middlebrow (Harald Schmidt, a German carbon-copy of David Letterman), and then things pretty much go to hell in a handbasket.

The lower order of entertainers are pretty dire, as the FAZ newspaper recently lamented (German).  According to the FAZ, a brief interlude during the 1980s, in which German comedy introduced character-driven sitcoms based on everyday situations, "the crooked teeth, horrible glasses, and funny hairdos are back."

So are the schoolyard insults (assuming they ever left).  "TV Entertainer" Oliver Pocher recently staged a gag on the popular TV quiz show "Wetten, dass" in which he stood in a public square in Hannover and encouraged people to dye their hair orange using a spray-can.  For some reason.

As a German woman named Dana Gottschalk approached, he looked at her ID card, which showed she was 29 years old, and remarked "You sure look old for your age!"  He then hinted she might want to enroll as a contestant on a TV show on his regular network, in which people get cosmetic surgery.  [Yes, the show exists, and it shows graphic before, during, and after footage.]

Unfortunately for Pocher, publicly insulting someone’s honor is an "invasion of their right to personality" in Germany.  Gottschalk sued (German) Pocher for 35,000 Euro.  Even Pocher seems to know he went too far; he agreed to pay 1000 Euro.  The judge eventually set the amount at 6000 for the tasteless remark.

The truth is not a defense to this kind of legal liability in Germany.  Therefore we were spared the spectacle of Pocher mounting a defense by showing Gottschalk really did look old for her age…

3 thoughts on “The 6,000 Euro Insult

  1. “Schmerzgeld” is a great word! By, the way, was Pocher at “Wetten,dass…”the show is hosted by Thomas Gottschalk, isn´t? Maybe it was all made up…

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  2. Being very “germanic”, I have to correct Ligia: It’s “Schmerzensgeld”, not “Schmerzgeld”. The identity of surnames is really stunning, but hey, this was Germany: It had to be serious! And it was, indeed…

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  3. There are things I miss about Germany now that I no longer live there, but German TV is definitely not one of them.

    I don’t think anyone of any importance involved in German television has an original bone in his/her body. They’re all far too afraid to take risks and make decisions which, in its own way, is pretty symptomatic of German corporate culture full stop. Pity.

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