Thursday, June 30, 2011

Will Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable mock climate change alarmists?

I was channel surfing last night and saw a show called Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable on their ABC. Leung is an affable, seemingly shambolic Aussie comedian who investigates various issues. His show used a bit of hoaxing, the odd silly stunt. There was some scripted stuff as well. It was kind of kooky and quite amusing. The pervasive approach was to subtly mock those who are superstitious.

Last night's episode, which I think was repeated from a couple of weeks ago, was about UFOs. While watching it I kept thinking: why doesn't he do a show on global warming? If any bunch of people are just askin' for a humorous piss-take it has to be the Al Gore worshipping, carbon tax demanding warmists.

So today I've been Googling for information about other episodes in the series to see if he has actually done this. Can't find any, though. Seems that he's only been making fun of the usual kooks and loons such as psychics and new agers. Still, if he does tackle the issue I'll be pleasantly surprised.

I suspect that like most Aussie comics he's a believer in warmism. Which goes to show that in arty, lefty circles it's still way cool to be a skeptic, except when it comes to the Church of Climate Change Alarmism. One is simply not allowed to challenge the argument that carbon dioxide is dangerously heating the planet, and that the Earth's temperature can be turned down by making people pay more for stuff. Surely, if anything qualifies as "unbelievable", those nutty beliefs do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Josh Thomas on Q&A and PC in the Australian comedy scene

Having done heaps of comedy all over Australia over the last couple of decades (though not in the last few years) I know comedy scene culture very well. And, like the rest of Artsville, it's heavily dominated by left-wing, PC, "thinking".

And that intolerance doesn't come from the audience, by the way. Usually those who watch comedy are youngish and have a range of political views (although there are more lefties than in the wider society for a variety of reasons). They will go with stuff that's not PC occasionally as long as it's funny.

That said, that kind of stuff is still harder to pull off because it stands out from the usual fare like the proverbial canine testicles. Even card carrying Tories will be less likely to laugh openly at a routine with an obviously conservative point of view simply because they're gobsmacked that it's actually coming from the mouth of a standup comic. Comics with conservative sympathies know this, and that's one reason they rarely do such material. 

The main reason for their trepidation, though, is that there's a dominant world view that's enforced from within the comedy collective. And when I say enforced, I don't mean that comics are swiftly "disappeared" by their peers or promoters if they commit an egregious thought crime such as mocking the Great Leader Bob Brown. It's more subtle, but nonetheless pervasive. Knocking the left is just not the done thing. Do that and you'll be marking yourself out as one of those eeevil conservatives and may well be passed over for promotion (or what passes for it in the comedy scene).

So, the attitude that's rewarded is to be drearily, relentlessly PC. Toe that line and you can do very well indeed, even if you're not that funny (although a little comedic skill doesn't go astray). It's enough that you are seen to care about society and are taking up the favourite causes of the cultural left.

You can see this general bias in action by watching comedy live and on TV. Comics are either clearly of the left, or apolitical. (About the only well known Aussie standup comic who isn't like this would be Austen Tayshus. And he's hardly a classic conservative; more of an anarchist-social libertarian.)

Here's a specific example that illustrates this wider phenomenon. Last week on Q and A comedian Josh Thomas was one of the panelists. He came across as pretty daft and credulous - even more so than his fellow leftie Gen Y-ers on the panel. That was disappointing, because you'd like to think that comics had some sort of BS detector in operation, even if it was faulty.

Here are his reasons for voting for the Greens:

JOSH THOMAS: Well, I mean, it's - I voted for the Greens in the last election because they were the only party that I believed, the only party that I felt were talking about something that they actually agreed with. Sorry about my hair. But I think - no, I think the Greens are the right party for young people because they're kind of idealistic and they've lovely and they like big hugs and trees and when you're young you should be filled with hope for the future. We should leave it to old people to worry about all the other stuff, which I think is probably more damning to the Greens than a compliment.

Hard to believe he actually said that. But he did. And he wasn't joking.

He followed it up with something even more depressing:

JOSH THOMAS: But I - can I ask you a question, because I'm not very good at - I don't know lots of things about stuff. I'm not confident on things. Ted Bailey, is he Liberal?

Obviously, he was referring to Ted Baillieu. But either he didn't know how to pronounce his name, and the transcriber was being accurate, or the ABC staff member himself was unsure! Either way it's alarming. And one thing's certain: Thomas was so uninterested in politics that he didn't know which party governs Victoria. 

Later on he was asked about the subject of gay marriage. Of course he was an advocate of it, and argued for it quite passionately. Needless to say his thoughts on it got a round of applause:

JOSH THOMAS: Well, I would say to her they are. I mean the polling shows they are. This is actually not a controversial issue. Sixty-three per cent of people want to see this. Seventy-four per cent of Labor voters want to see this. At the moment in this country you have - if you're gay, you're at a much higher risk of you will experience - you're much more likely to experience self-harm, depression, homelessness, eating disorders, drug abuse. You're five to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide and the biggest contributing factor to that is homophobia and the Marriage Act, as it stands, it empowers homophobia and it needs to change, I think.

Interestingly, the latter part of that contribution was used in the promo for the show this last week.

This just confirms all my worst suspicions about the comedy scene (not to mention the ABC): Being original and having your own ideas is deemed weird and threatening. The last thing you'd want to do is be true to yourself and skeptical of authority, since it will get you nowhere. You just have to strike one of the range of PC political poses on offer from time to time, and you'll be rewarded for it with gigs and exposure.

The joint's a ghost town. There are tumbleweeds blowin' through it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

WA prisoner paints Christian themed artwork; wins award

One attitude that's clearly dominant in Artsville is a sneering disdain for religion (except the "religion of peace", of course). Special vitriol is reserved for Christianity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the visual art scene, where painters compete with each other to see who can provoke Christians the most

Sure, there's a lot of art that isn't like this. But if it does have a religious theme then chances are it will be palpably and viciously anti-Christian. Very occasionally you'll get an exception to the rule. One has occurred right here in WA, as a matter of fact! See, a prisoner has won a national award for his pro-Christian artwork, titled Only God Can Judge Me.

Needless to say, this acknowledgement of his talent and hard work has not come from the local art establishment. The award is from Prison Fellowship Australia, an overtly Christian organization. He has won the princely sum of 400 bucks, but strangely remains unnamed in this article (perhaps for legal reasons?).

If you look at the painting you'll notice that as well as being noticeably politically incorrect, it's also been done with quite a deal of skill. That's another thing that makes it highly unusual for an award winning artwork these days.

The themes of the competition also make it stand out like a sore thumb. As the website itself states, it's meant to celebrates "hope, forgiveness, restoration and freedom". This stands in stark contrast to the general culture of the arts world, which relentlessly advocates (and rewards) cynicism, bitterness, destructiveness and conformity.