In her piece about the rise of ‘news comedy’ on television, Melbourne comedian Courteney Hocking includes some fitting comments about wowserism in Australia from Ian Simmons, the head writer for Good News Week.

When The Chaser team was roundly castigated for their “Make A Realistic Wish Foundation” sketch it revealed another reason why satire rarely makes the grade in Australia.

“There’s almost a part of people that wants to be outraged,” says Simmons. “That sketch was two minutes in half an hour. People being outraged the next day, sure, but it went on for weeks.”

Simmons believes it’s partially attributable to our uncertain times.

“So much is out of our control — the war in Afghanistan, the GFC, Swine flu, they all affect us in different ways. This is a way for people to claw back some control in their lives, to express their anger and their outrage and to make them feel good about themselves.”

Which leads us back to the numbers thing — because of our relatively small population, vocal and indignant wowsers receive a greater share of voice than they would in countries like the US, where they can turn over and watch something else.

Simmons’ remarks about clawing back control are particularly relevant, especially when you look at recent cases like the Cotton On kids clothing ruckus. Author Hugh Mackay’s views on regulation in Australia give us insight into why: that if we make it appear we have solved a problem through regulation, we ease the burden of personal moral responsibility.

Other recent incidents of outrage, like that surrounding the Chaser Dog skit, probably rest more closely with our news media trying to whip up a storm in a teacup.