Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kate-Miller Heidke's disastrous Q and A appearance

It's pretty clear that the producers of Q and A are determined to keep the panel leaning to the left. In fact, they are so desperate to achieve this outcome that they'll often invite guests who have little or no interest in politics, and are so stupid they even make other lefties look smart.

Kate-Miller Heidke is a case in point. She was on the panel last Monday. The producers must have known she was a rolled gold uber-twit. Singers are generally extremely self-centred, after all, and they'd had her on the show previously anyway. But they were confident she'd toe the leftist line -- which she did, of course. So that was all that mattered. (And she did sing a pretty song at the end. Bonus!)

They probably thought they'd made a good decision. But the viewers obviously didn't. Twitter erupted with derision on a scale usually associated with a Sophie Mirabella appearance. Even her fellow muso Anthony Callea laid the boot in, tweeting that she was a "total waste of space"

Realizing that she had to engage in some serious damage control, Miller-Heidke subsequently wrote a post on Facebook basically blaming the show's producers for misleading her about what subjects would be discussed in that episode.

It's petulant, infantile and unintentionally hilarious. There's comedy gold throughout, so I decided to select a section at random:

I suspect that nearly everyone who live-tweets Q and A harbours a secret desire to be on the show themselves.  They think they could do a better job than the people on the panel, and that adds spice to the whole thing.

Actually, she's got this kinda right. Yes, many of those tweeting up a storm out in TV-land do believe they could do a much better job -- and with very good reason. They're articulate people who are genuinely interested in the issues up for discussion.

That doesn't add spice to the whole thing. On the contrary, it adds a kind of mass tragic irony. Hell, they have to sit there watching vain quarterwits like Miller-Heidke make utter fools of themselves trying to look like they give a tinker's (which they clearly don't). Then they have to pay for the whole stupid, pointless exercize. Not just wasteful. It's cruel

Also, Tony Jones is one of the most brilliant and charismatic people alive in the world today.

If you believe that, well you really shouldn't be let out of the house. 

But I digress.  In the weeks leading up to the taping, I had an anxious tangle in my stomach.  I told Clementine Ford that my anus was quivering a little bit.  She agreed that that is the feeling you get before appearing on Q and A.

Well, yeah I suppose it would be if you're as vain, vacuous and bum-obsessed as these two bimbos.

It's amazing they even had her on the show in the first place, isn't it? What were they thinking? If she appears on it again it'll prove conclusively that the show's producers have no standards whatsoever.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is Marisa Garreffa's show Cured Freudian or feminist?

Performance art almost always seems to contain two main ingredients: an anti-capitalist subtext, and an intention to confront or disturb the audience somehow. This is one of the main reasons I've just never been able to get into it.

Firstly, I don't think capitalism is all that bad. Sure, it's far from perfect, but it sure as hell beats the alternative. Also, I find the confrontational stuff a bit obnoxious, and often boring. Call me old fashioned, but I find entertainment a lot more enjoyable.

This one-woman show Cured by Marisa Garreffa, which is showing at the Blue Room, seems to tick both those boxes. The writer-performer butchers actual pig carcasses during her show satirizing the funeral industry. So it does sound like pretty traditional -- dare I say conservative -- performance art fare. Still, it does seem like quite an intriguing piece.

But what I find more intriguing is the fact that Ms Garreffa, daughter of a well known local butcher, has chosen to feature the cutting up of carcasses on stage. What's her motivation? Is she trying to get back at him or please him? Perhaps a bit of both? It all seems pretty Freudian to me ...

Or maybe that's the wrong way to look at it. It could be that she's a Marxist feminist and she's saying: "Daddy, this is nothing personal. I just despise your politics. You're such a sexist pig!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Matthew Newton and Mel Gibson still have friends

You've got to feel sorry for Matthew Newton. He's clearly in an awful lot of turmoil, and living in a fishbowl has clearly exacerbated his problems. But he's done a helluva lot of damage, too. The bloke is trouble, let's face it.

If you had any sense at all you'd give him a very wide berth if he were to cross your path -- or even if you knew him already.  But what's surprising is that even though he's not as popular as he used to be, several people have been surprisingly supportive of him over recent months.

Lawyer Chris Murphy has been particularly loyal. He is now engaged in a full-on Twitter war with the actor's countless detractors. He's certainly been going well beyond the call of duty here. He seems genuinely fond of the bloke.

It's interesting what kind of motivations people have for such loyalty. Newton's fame must have something to do with it. And notoriety is another kind of fame, after all.

The potential for increased media exposure by association aside, a lot of people do like a bit of drama, too. Newton has certainly been supplying a lot of that lately.

The troubled actor's story has parallels with that of another famous Aussie who's clearly losing his marbles in the public eye: Mel Gibson.

His latest crazy outburst was caught on audiotape by the son of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Eszterhas has written an open letter to the star that contains some truly jaw-dropping allegations. If even a quarter of them are true then Gibson has totally lost the plot, theme and subtext!

Which begs the question: Why did Eszterhas hang around the guy and put up with all his ranting for so long? Of course he had professional reasons for this, since he was contracted to write a screenplay for him. But Eszterhas brought his family into Gibson's orbit as well. And he went for a whole two years before finally spitting the dummy.

Amazing what you can get away with if you're rich, powerful, famous and charismatic.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mike Daisey is no master monologist

Still on the subject of fiction being presented as fact: You've probably heard about this Mike Daisey character. For those who haven't he wrote and performed a critically lauded one man show called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. This purported to be a factual account of his visit to Chinese factories making Apple products, and included some explosive claims about the appalling exploitation of workers.

While promoting the show he was interviewed on a public radio program called This American Life. Its producers originally believed the claims made in his monologue. Subsequently, however, they did some more serious fact-checking and found that many of them just didn't stack up.

Since they had been so supportive of the writer-performer, they felt that it was their duty to correct the record and also ask him why he misled them. The full episode dealing with this issue can be found here (hat-tip to Gregoryno6). I recommend that you listen to the whole thing. It's fascinating stuff.

And not just because of Daisey's answers to the questions put to him, which I'll get to in a minute. The reaction of the journos themselves is also quite revealing. It's greatly to their credit that they chose to correct the record, of course (if only the hypocritical ideologues at Media Watch were so thorough and professional!). But there's also a palpably personal element to this decision that comes through.

Having an ideological prejudice against big business, they desperately wanted to believe the simplistic picture Daisey painted of Apple's eeevil empire. Which is why they endorsed it originally. But when they twigged that he had brazenly fabricated so many details they seemed to have been quite hurt as well as astonished. That's leftists for you. Naive as well as emotional.

When they ask him about why he lied, they never get angry or upset. But their pique at his betrayal comes through loud and clear. As well as their genuine curiosity about his motives, there's an almost plaintive, miffed quality to their questions. It's like they're saying: "You really hurt us, Mike ... Why did you let us down? We supported you, comrade." Conservatives will find this amusing (as well as a little sad) because they just wouldn't have been taken in by the portly blowhard's tall tale in the first place.

Back to Daisey himself: He's also very naive and emotional. All he had to do to avoid this whole mess was make the qualification in the program and interviews that while The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was based on his real experiences, it took a lot of dramatic license as well. This "all of the truth, none (or at least some) of the facts" defence is still a bit dodgy. But it's an oft-used one and most people right across the political spectrum are happy to accept it. They'll go, "Okay, I know what to expect. I can go with that."

But he didn't think that far ahead. Looks like he didn't think at all, actually. Instead he told them his Apple factory stories met journalistic, not merely theatrical, standards of truth.

The second interview, when the journos confront him, is the most interesting. There are these excruciatingly long pauses when he tries to figure out how to lie again about why he lied initially. He comes up with this lame claim that he "wanted to make people care". Gawd but it makes you cringe. (That's even worse than that other ol' chestnut "I'm making people think". Like they don't care, or think, in the first place!)

Clearly, he said that his story was entirely factual because he wanted to promote the show and himself -- which definitely worked; the initial interview is what garnered him heaps of subsequent MSM exposure. And he thought he could get away with it. (I assume he believed that because he'd had so much good press in the past.)

Aside from his obvious lack of principles, he's hugely overrated as a performer. Watch him in action in the clip below and you'll see what I mean. He just sits there talking with his script before him (presumably because he can't be arsed committing the show entirely to memory). Your average half-way decent standup comedian is not only much better prepared; he also performs his routine with far more verbal, vocal, and physical creativity.

Yet Daisey gets all this effusive praise from the critics (watch for the quotes that punctuate the YouTube clip). One label that's often used is "master monologist". He's definitely not that. He's a coupla notches below ordinary, in my opinion. I wouldn't even call him a master bullshit artist, considering he's been so spectacularly sprung and all.

The secret to his success is obvious. He just says what the overwhelmingly left-wing, anti-capitalist critical establishment want him to say. They're so overjoyed that he does so that they are prepared to completely overlook his obvious lack of imagination, originality and performance skill. And they'll sing his praises until the bloody cows come home -- or he gets caught telling big fat porkies, like just recently.

Just you watch. His reputation's taken a hit because of these Apple-related fabrications. But all will be forgiven eventually (if it hasn't already).

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Germaine Greer on Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Germaine Greer has received a lot of condemnation recently for her comments on Q and A about Julia Gillard's lack of dress sense and big bottom. As many have argued, coming from an iconic feminist like her such sexist comments are not only bizarre but also highly destructive.

Greer took another surprising swipe at women at the start of her spiel about Jeanette Winterson's latest book Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? on the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club.

Go to that link and select the specific segment on the right panel, then fast forward to about 3.20 when host Jennifer Byrne asks the famous feminist for her opinion. It's actually pretty funny because you can see The Germainiac start to arc up and the other panellists vocally express their dread about what she is about to say. She doesn't disappoint, saying that the book "belongs to a strangely female genre which I call the lying autobiography".

Well, I don't know if it is uniquely female at all. There have been many autobiographies -- penned by both women and men -- in which the writer has been highly selective, unfair, malicious, and sometimes flat out dishonest.

In any case I think that Greer makes some excellent points in her ensuing rant. She suspects a lot of what Jeannette Winterson writes about her adoptive mother Constance Winterson isn't actually true, and that it's not fair on this woman because she can't defend herself. She also says that writers should be very careful when writing about real people. I couldn't agree more.

A couple of the other panellists seem to think that her criticisms are a bit harsh. One of them concedes that Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is selective; that it's one "version" of the truth. But he seems to be okay with that.

I think this nonchalance about the possible wild inaccuracy of a portrayal of a real figure is pretty widespread. I'm not sure exactly when and where it all started. (Maybe postmodernism is to blame, with its insistence that everything's contextual; that there's no one objective truth, just different takes on reality.)

Well, whatever the cause, it's pretty corrosive. One vivid example of it is related to the movie JFK. Many experts derided the script for its numerous factual howlers. But the writer-director Oliver Stone wasn't fussed about its inaccuracies. He described his film as a "counter-myth" to the Warren Commission's "fictional myth".

That's all very well, but a lot of people who saw it believed that  it was the definitive, truthful account. His film didn't start the conspiracy theories about JFK's assassination, but it certainly gave them a helluva lot of oxygen.

Basically, if you see everything as a "myth" then you'll end up believing nothing, or anything at all. Either state would be a kind of hell, wouldn't it? Writers in particular should remember that there's truth and BS; non-fiction and fiction. They are separate genres.

As Germaine Greer says about about Winterson's memoir, if it's a "novel" then why is Constance Winterson called "Constance Winterson"? You can't really argue with that, now can you?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Caitlin Rash is a talented and skillful young artist

So much art these days is gimmicky postmodernist trash that requires little or no skill to create. Skivvy-wearing gouda-guzzling earring-tuggers just love the stuff of course, which is why those who produce it are the ones who get all the plaudits. This trend runs through many art forms, but it's particularly prevalent in the visual arts. It's truly depressing.

That's why it's refreshing to see a young artist who clearly does have skill being rewarded for it. Caitlin Rash, a former Applecross Senior High School student, has just won a trip for two to the Art Gallery of South Australia for her impressive painting titled Koi.

It's interesting that the judges of the competition in this case were actually members of the public:

This year, Koi was voted by gallery visitors the most popular of 55 pieces. More than 28,000 people visited the exhibition, which ends on Monday.

Which just goes to show that crowds do have wisdom -- and clearly much more of it than members of the art establishment. I suspect that if any of them were involved in the judging of entrants, the winning piece would be something far less impressive.

I do hope that Caitlin Rash continues to hone and develop her lush visual style. If she does, she may well become a popular and financially successful artist. But then critical success, and all the grant money and awards that follow, will probably elude her ...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Deliverance at the Adelaide Fringe Festival is hardly "art"

In the past being an artist required some skill and hard work. Not these days. You just have to use some provocative angle or gimmick that gets you attention easily and call what you're doing art. Then, once you've offended, shocked, or titillated an audience you can bang on pompously about how you are challenging their prejudices, getting them to think anew .. that kind of nonsense.

Deliverance at the Adelaide Fringe Festival is an example of this faux art. Basically, three people with nothing better to do walk into Adelaide's Rymill Park starkers then depend upon the kindness of strangers for clothes, gifts, and food. The whole stupid, pointless exercize goes on for ten days.

They haven't written, prepared or rehearsed anything. They've just got that original "concept" (for want of a better word) and the gall to see it through -- not to mention all that free time to "perform" it in. And they're using the oldest trick in the book to get attention initially: public nudity. It's sooo easy.

I'll bet that many of the idiots who find such a silly stunt so searingly brilliant as art would sneer at pole dancing or stripping. And can you imagine these performance modes being included in the Fringe Festival program? Not on your Nelly!

Sure, they are hardly edifying. But they are actually closer to art since they involve the making of costumes (albeit ones that are discarded pretty soon!) and sometimes even a bit of choreography. They certainly require more skill, preparation and work than has gone into Deliverance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Paul Grabowsky on Q and A at the Adelaide Festival

Q and A on the ABC is worth watching, because the lefties and luvvies on the panel never disappoint. They routinely come out with such po-faced and ridiculous comments that they pretty much make satire redundant. 

Take Adelaide Festival Artistic Director Paul Grabowsky. He was inordinately keen to keep invoking the indigenous angle. That's a real favourite of luvvies. They don't give a rat's about the squalor in which so many Aborigines live. They just see them as a means to take the high moral ground, and subtly wag their fingers at people for having politically incorrect attitudes.

For example, responding to a question about Wayne Swan and complaints about "ruthless individualism" Grabowsky saw a good opportunity to toss in that ol' chestnut about Australian history going back tens of thousands of years, not mere centuries:

PAUL GRABOWSKY: Well, I give a rat’s what he thinks, because I think he is making a very important point. I think the fact about the history of Australia as we are experiencing it at the moment - and, of course, it’s difficult to talk about a nation’s history whilst you are living through it - but this is a nation which is very much a work in progress. We can’t pretend that we have the same understanding of long historical cycles that China does, for example, or European nations. We do know, of course, that we’ve had people living here for 80,000 years under quite extraordinary circumstances. When I am talking to people from the other side of the world, sometimes I like to jokingly refer to Australia as the dark side of the moon. It is a part of the world which throws up so many problems in order to be able to survive in it that it requires considerable ingenuity to be able to create a functioning polis in this place. Our traditional peoples figured out a myriad of ingenious ways to survive here for a very, very long time. The people who have been here since 1788 have not been so ingenious in coming to terms with the place. But I think that by degrees we are figuring out ways how to live harmoniously, and hopefully be something of an example to the rest of the world about how one can be clever in a place.

What a gargle! Sure, indigenous people were ingenious for surviving here so long. But does he sincerely believe what he says about European settlement? If it's so bad and wrong then maybe he should eschew some of the goodies it provides -- goodies like classical music and jazz, air travel, comfy homes, as well as all that plentiful fatty food and pricey plonk (which the portly fella clearly enjoys). Think he'd ever do that? 

And when did humans ever live in harmony with their environment? They're always pillaging the joint (and a good thing too!). It's highly likely that the Aborigines Grabowsky speaks so glowingly of were responsible for the mass extinction of marsupial megafauna, after all.

And this idea that we (and by "we" he clearly means non-Aborigines, so there's a racially divisive subtext there) "are figuring out ways of living harmoniously" is just rubbish. Do wind farms work in harmony with nature? Nope. They plain don't work for starters. And they're bloody great bird-killing, view-wrecking excrescences to boot!

Contrary to Grabowsky's claims "we" have actually been clever in this place for a long time. The green mumbo jumbo that he and his ilk endorse is just plain dumb, and we should avoid it at all costs.

He then lambasted some in pay TV (presumably Foxtel, owned by the eeevil Rupert Murdoch) for their rather coarse coverage of politics:

PAUL GRABOWSKY: No, of course it’s not. I think sexism and misogyny are a part of our culture. Just before we get off the politics for a moment, there is one particular network on pay television which has a lot of political coverage which they deal with like sporting events. They are largely male commentators, although not totally, and the language they use is the same kind of language you would apply to discussing football matches or various sporting events. I find the total tenor of the way that they talk about what is essentially very serious business. I would have to say largely very well-meaning people doing their very best for what they believe to be the best for the country, reducing it to a gutter level of discussion which demeans the entire democratic project.

That's pretty rich coming from a leftie (but I suppose he is a pretty rich one himself). If you want to see some truly gutter, nasty stuff about politicians then you'll find heaps of it coming from his tribe. You can see it live in comedy and cabaret shows like The Wharf Review and you can see it online in the blogosphere and on Twitter. But Grabowsky doesn't complain about that, presumably because he approves of it. To him, democracy is his side having free reign, the other being muzzled.

He made other po-faced pronouncements, for example when a questioner raised the issue of immigration, asking whether immigrants should "speak Australian" socially. He leapt at this chance to spuriously invoke his superior cultural sensitivity:

PAUL GRABOWSKY: I would have to question the premise that you’ve develop in that question because I don’t believe there is a way of speaking Australian for a start. Unless you want to come up with me to somewhere like Nooka in southeast Arnhem Land and hear some real Australian language.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking, isn't it? He's implying that those of us who speak English (including him) are not truly Australian. Only Aborigines are authentic Australians.

Is Grabowsky himself fluent in the language spoken in Nooka? I doubt it. But if he is then why isn't he speaking it all the time, and exhorting us all to do likewise? And why does he compose and orchestrate Western music, and direct a festival that is chockas with Western art styles and genres (albeit performed with as much fake self-loathing is Grabowsky himself displays)? Why all the posturing?

To pull rank, that's why. And by sneering at the masses in such a politically correct way he pleases the powers that be, thereby consolidating his position of influence and privilege.

With the Left it's always ultimately about power; never about principle. That's depressing in general; even more so when it comes to the arts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Buttrose ex Alasdair Macdonald sues ABC over Paper Giants

I didn't watch the ABC mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo. But from what I saw of the promotion leading up to its broadcast it seemed to be the usual PC feminist fare: The sassy, smart independent woman taking on the eeevil, bigoted patriarchy and winning with grace and style.

That's why I'm not surprised that the show has provoked a defo suit from the ex-hubby of Ita Buttrose:

Excerpts of the two-part mini-series were played to the court, including a scene in which the character of Mr Macdonald tells his pregnant wife that he is leaving "to be a free spirit".

That's ironic, since from what I could tell the mini-series itself seemed to promote the idea of Ita Buttrose as the ultimate "free spirit". Then there's the strong possibility that Mr Macdonald didn't actually say such things ...

And speaking of freedom of spirit: Will the ABC ever show some of its own and come up with a television show that is not sodden with mind-numbing PC cant -- even just once? I hope it will, but I doubt very much that it is capable such originality of thought. The cultural ideologues still retain complete control, and have basically throttled the creative life out of the joint.

Well, however things turn out, the long-suffering Aussie taxpayer will end up copping it twice over. He's already had to pay for the original production, a dreary ideologically driven project designed to glorify a cultural lightweight who did nothing more than sell squillions of stupid, frivolous magazines. And if the ABC has to fork out to Macdonald to assuage his hurt feeling, well, he'll be paying for that too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Place des Anges leaves piles of feathers in Perth CBD

I'd read about this free show by Les Studios de Cirque called Place des Anges. In it, a team of angels descended from wires hanging over St Georges Terrace. They dumped heaps of feathers, and there were some natty light effects. I didn't go and see it because I'm a curmudgeon who'd much rather sit at home posting mean-spirited tweets and blog posts.

And frankly the whole idea did seem very strange to me. I mean, you'd think that angels in heaven would have better things to do than pluckin' ducks all day long, eh? And aren't they supposed to be into spreading love, joy and goodwill -- not stuff from dead birds? The fact that they decided to dump this matter on us reveals that they must have a pretty dim view of humanity. Sadly, that seems to have been confirmed, if the reaction of the crowd was any guide.

Anyhow, I didn't expect to see any remnants from the show when I was in the city yesterday. Yet there were still heaps of feathers strewn around the joint. Take this pile that had accumulated in Hay St, just near Pier St. I think it's safe to say that the stuff wasn't quite so magical in the harsh light of day.
On St Georges Terrace there was still more of it. Did give this empty block a strangely desolate and wintry Northern European feel. Don't know about you, but this scene puts me in mind of the siege of Stalingrad. 
Hell, when gusts of wind blew strongly down the Terrace, there was even the odd mini-blizzard. I half expected to see some exhausted Russian soldiers trudge into view,  grimly carrying their wounded on a makeshift cart. 
Some of the pretty botanical arrangements had been inundated with this obscene byproduct of mass avicide. The leaves were dying, clearly traumatized by the experience. Doubtless Gaia wept upon learning of such a fowl deed!
And just regarding that green angle in particular: The fact that there was all this litter composed of stolen animal products did seem quite ironic considering how deeply concerned about the environment arty types purport to be these days.

As a testament to its commitment to sound environmental policy the Perth International Arts Festival even has an official Environmental Sustainability Partner (Synergy). Then there's this case study relating to its partnership with URS:

 In the lead up to the 2010 and 2011 Festivals URS assisted the Festival by providing contra environmental consultancy and developing a sustainability framework encompassing a vision, strategy, goals and tangible action items.  Subsequently, doing what we do in a more environmentally sustainable way has been embraced whole-heartedly by the Festival.

Sure, heaps of feathers strewn about the CBD might not pertain specifically to the subject of sustainability. But it certainly relates to the festival's "greenness" in general. You'd think that at the very least they would have consulted some animal rights activists, or even one or two duck whisperers, just to check that Place des Anges was environmentally, er, kosher.

The fact that they didn't shows how insincere they are about these issues. Don't know about you, but that really leaves me feeling down.

UPDATE: "Perth Festival" responds in comments below:

Hi, The feathers were not plucked from ducks - they are a by-product of the food industry. The feathers we imported are the same types of feathers that end up in your pillow or doonah. Regards, Perth Festival

Firstly, I'm not the one posing as a greenie. So the contents of my pillow or doona are irrelevant.

And your reference to the "food industry" is disingenuous. What you really mean is that the feathers came from the corpses of murdered chickens.

Hell, that's even worse. There's a good chance that PETA lawyer currently emancipating orcas will sue your ass for assault and battery! Get some good legal advice pronto, "Perth Festival", or you'll find your chickens really coming home to roost.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The White Divers of Broome the usual race-obsessed fare?

The denizens of Artsville, Orstraya, are intensely, relentlessly and simplistically obsessed with race. Like the sad and bitter ol' commies who see everything in terms of class, these poor little poppets are pretty much incapable of seeing people as individuals before they are members of a racial group. This tends to make them blowhards and bores -- particular in packs, which they feel most comfortable in. And it often greatly reduces the complexity and power of their work.

This is depressing, particularly in the case of drama. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought that this form worked best when ambivalently exploring power struggles between complex and contradictory individuals.

But now, it seems you've just gotta have a black versus white theme with a clearly PC angle and not only will you get your play financed far more easily but the critics will be much more positively disposed towards it too. 

Take the The White Divers of Broome, which is playing as part of The Perth International Arts Festival.

I haven't seen this play, nor will I. So I am coming from prejudice here. But much as I'd like to say otherwise, my prejudice against the Aussie theatre scene is always confirmed. 

That's why I reckon it's a lay down misere that this production will have an overtly preachy and didactic tone and cardboard characters including eeevil racist imperialists and feisty, salt of the Earth lefties and non-white activists.

Critics will dutifully respond by saying how searingly insightful it is, and still relevant today -- what with the Abbott-incited race riot on Australia Day, etc, etc, blah blah blah, ad bloody nauseam

But hey, if anyone has other ideas, please feel free to add them in comments below.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Geoffrey Rush's pompous Australian of the Year acceptance speech

It was kind of surprising that Geoffrey Rush was named Australian of the Year. There's no doubt that many Aussies think he has little to offer the role and that he has been over-rewarded already.

But there were certainly no surprises in the content of his acceptance speech. He politically vogued up a storm on many of the usual issues such as gay marriage, climate change, and asylum seekers.

I suspect the panel had a very good idea that he would do this enthusiastically, and this was one of the main reasons he got the gong. If you look at the past winners of this honour they tend to be of the cultural Left, after all. And while there are a few who could be described as apolitical, there are certainly buggerall conservatives.

As well as being true to form on these issues, he said this:

"The stories we tell ourselves as adults and to our children, in the communal dark, have a serious importance."

Obviously he was alluding mainly to art forms such as film and theatre. But I don't think it would be verballing him to say he thinks that pretty much every art form is "important".

Having met, and even worked with, many arty types over the years I know this attitude is pretty much standard. They really do think that what they do is "important". They also think that it can change society.

On both counts I believe they're seriously deluded. Art is not important. It's valuable. And it usually never changes anything. It's true that there have been some great politically themed works that have altered the course of history somewhat. But in the vast majority of cases art never has any real, demonstrable impact.

Sure, the arts can move people, make them laugh, offer some unusual and interesting insights, maybe even get them to think a little differently. But when all's said and done they're pretty small beer compared to the things that really change the world like politics, science, medicine and -- particularly these days -- global finance.

Look at Rush's own filmography. There's a lot of fine work acting work there, and some very enjoyable movies. But many of them, particularly his recent pirate-themed blockbusters, are basically pretty mindless entertainment.

And think about the Australian film "industry" as a whole. Not only do Aussies generally lack enthusiasm for homegrown filmic fare; they make a real point of avoiding the overtly political stuff that Rush would like to see even more of.

It's a sad irony that the more passionately PC a film-maker is, the greater the likelihood his film will get financed and ultimately made here -- but the less likely it is that it will find a big audience. That's basically because people are sick and tired of being cinematically hectored about how sexist, racist, homophobic, environmentally unsound and generally bad, wrong, thick and worthless they are. So the odds that he will actually change people's attitudes are about one millionth of diddly squat.

I mean, if all the movies about how racist we are as a nation had even a tiny fraction of the social impact intended by their creators everyone in Oz would be wearing black armbands, wouldn't they?

Really, luvvies in particular and artists in general should stop taking themselves so seriously.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Tempest not banned by Tucson conservatives after all

Yesterday I was reading The Australian and one story stood out as being quite unusual. It was a brief item about how Shakespeare's play The Tempest had been banned in schools in Tucson, Arizona. The thing that made it noticeable was that conservatives were behind this push:

The ban is part of a battle over Arizona's treatment of its Mexican-immigrant population, and the extent to which cultural and racial differences should be examined in class.

The Tempest is studied in many US schools for its perceived insights into racism and colonialism. One of its protagonists is Caliban, a black slave on an island ruled by Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan.

Yet the play has fallen foul of conservative Arizonans disgusted that state schools offer classes in what they regard as increasingly radicalised Mexican-American studies.

This did strike me as somewhat odd, because I do tend to associate censorship with the politically correct Left. Not only do they do it overtly from time to time (such as with the Bolt case here in Australia) but they've been indulging in it covertly for decades all over the Anglosphere by characterizing any kind of speech or writing they don't like as sexist, racist, or homophobic, etc. They are particularly angry about many works in the Western canon. Those lefty quackademics sure as hell loathe those "dead white males" -- Shakespeare in particular. 

Still, I accepted that the story -- which has been reported by many big mainstream media outlets -- was true, and conservatives were guilty this time. Perhaps this was the exception that proved the rule? Or maybe they were trying to be trendily leftist themselves -- you know, by "subverting the dominant paradigm"?

Anyway I did a bit of Googling and discovered a blog post stating that the story, which seems to have come from this Salon article, was not accurate after all:

Sensing that Biggers’ story did not sound correct, nor comport with my understanding of the law in this subject area here in Arizona, I was able to make contact with officials at TUSD over the Martin Luther King extended holiday weekend and spoke with an official on Monday, even though the school system was officially closed. It is an understatement to say they were dismayed and concerned; it is “disingenuous to say ‘banned’” said Cara Rene, Communications Director for the TUSD.

The author of that particular post links to this press release from the educational organization accused of the ban, which opens with this clear statement: "Tucson Unified Schools District has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported."

And later

Other books have also been falsely reported as being banned by TUSD. It has been incorrectly reported that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is not allowed for instruction. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. “The Tempest” and other books approved for curriculum are still viable options for instructors.

Hopefully The Oz and all those other big outfits will make a correction and admit they were wrong. I doubt they will, though.

It's understandable that they ran with it in the first place. When you are prejudiced against conservatives and believe that they are the more censorious group you're more likely to believe such a claim.

It's depressing that there are so many people like this in the meeja, even those in the thrall of the eeevil Rupert Murdoch. Still, it's also a little heartening to know that my prejudices were confirmed, and that conservatives turned out not to be guilty in this case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

As the World Tipped is pompous, predictable and unoriginal

As the World Tipped is the latest lemon from the warmist wankers of Oz theatre. As you'll see from the video below it's basically just one not bad idea flogged to death over a drawn out period at massive expense. Sure, it might look pretty specky at first when a stage tilts on its axis with real live actors scrambling for safety, but when that's basically all that happens for the entire show the thrill is inevitably lost. 

That said, the crew do a great job in pulling this off and the performers throw their all into it. There are some nice visual effects, too.

It's the script that sucks -- and hard. There's no thematic complexity or development in it. It's got nothing new or original to say. It's just another long, hectoring bleet from some spoiled brat blowhards with far more money (much of it yours, BTW) than talent.

The po-faced exhortation at the end that we DEMAND CHANGE is sooo predictable, isn't it? They've got only one shot in their locker, and they just keep firing it over and over. Hell, if there were any justice, they would have run out of ammo long ago. But governments keep throwing money at them so they can keep on buying more!

And isn't it telling that it's not "change" on its own but "demand change". That's because the production's creators and their fellow travellers in the audience have decided they ain't changin' for nobody. They want to be the ones calling the shots, see. 

The inclusion of this word reveals a truly toxic level of sanctimony as well as a nauseating sense of entitlement: We, the superior, sensitive arty set just have to continue complaining about things; keep shrieking our demands. They, the brainless proles, have to actually make the changes.

Apart from the obvious odium of this born-to-rule bolshevism, it's just so bloody boring, isn't it? The public turned off years ago, and there's no doubt that even many of the denizens of Artsville itself are getting mighty sick of this crap.

Still, the deep green lefty warmists maintain their stranglehold on arts funding in Australia (and abroad) so it will keep being thrown at such pompous projects for a long while yet, I'm afraid.