Monday, January 02, 2012

Gerard Henderson, and oh no Minister, yes Minister, it's the ABC yet again ...

(Above: an oldie but a goodie, as the pond acts like Radio National on Xmas break and repeats its programming over and over).

2012 holds no fears for the pond.

After surviving relative-related screenings of Thor and Cowboys & Aliens, not even a column by Gerard Henderson threatens the pond's equanimity. Once you've seen through the horror, transcended the visual indignities, fear falls away, like a tear trickling from Odin's eye.

But is it fair to compare Gerard Henderson with that cockroach of contemporary cinema, Steven Spielberg, the man who lends his name to War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin, or that preening, woefully inept coxcomb of a director, the sometime Shakespearian Kenneth Branagh?

Well yes, because our very own prattling Polonius always delivers tedium, and even when he attempts to mock others, he misses the best moments.

Who could imagine a summary of the year's worst rhetorical moments that excluded Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Julia Gillard, leading members of the commentariat and Henderson himself, as he failed in Laying it on thick from the masters of embroidery to find a single bon mot amongst this motley mob?

Thor's mighty verbal hammer turns out to be an art department prop made of tinsel and lead, with the reprehensible Bob Ellis the easiest of marks for Henderson.

But it gets even more bizarre and even more poignant today in ABC's leftish drill still needs to be corrected by its deeds, a column which reads like a heart-wrenching job application:

The appointment of even one prominent conservative as a presenter of even one significant ABC program would not resolve this long-standing imbalance. But it might indicate that Scott's promise was about to be implemented, albeit half a decade after it was made.

Yes, bugger off Michael Duffy, Paul Comrie-Thomson, and Counterpoint, you're not prominent conservatives and your radio program is utterly insignificant, featuring as it does the entirely tragic Patrick Cook and the useless likes of Mark Steyn, and appearing on Radio National, inventor of the asterix as a useful indicator of audience numbers in ratings surveys.

Who on earth would listen to Radio National?

Well it turns out that Gerard Henderson has reached a new level of paranoid fixation. Confronted with the entirety of commercial radio listening pleasure available on Xmas day, how does he chose to spend it?

When minding grandchildren at the beach in shallow water, there is not much to do except listen to the radio. And so it came to pass that on Christmas Day, with earpiece attached, I switched on the ABC Radio National Artworks program.

Ye cats and mice sent mad in the noon day beach sun.

Does Henderson have any idea of how utterly bizarre this behaviour is? What level of desperation, madness and paranoia is involved in this sort of behaviour? One can imagine him handkerchief draped over head, earpiece attached, and quoting a little T. S. Eliot about rolling his trousers.

Even more bizarre are the assorted complaints attached to a "certain" Casey Jenkins by Henderson, and her yarnbombing and travelling to Vatican City and talk of cunts, and culminating with this:

She did not protest at the Haj in Saudi Arabia or outside Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's office in Tehran. Catholicism is an easy target. Islam is not. The program was so terribly twee. And so predictably Radio National.

The Henderson conservative group think is so terribly twee (he prattles about "the C word" but dare not speak its name), and so predictably Henderson, it's standard fare for comedians:

Yep, the Hamster Wheel got Henderson a long time ago, and it being the holyday season, we've run the gag again, in the way Radio National repeats its programs.

Not once does Henderson mention the main crime - that Yarnbobming: when Granny gets punk was first broadcast on Sunday the 21st August 2011, just another example of the relentless repeats that means listening to Radio National on Xmas day is like tuning into a recycling station.

Never mind. It seems Henderson is addicted to repeats:

On Christmas Day, Radio National also re-ran Julie Rigg's MovieTime review of The Iron Lady, which is directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Rigg described Margaret Thatcher, the subject of the film, as "a tyrant". Rigg also expressed her disgust that, during the Falklands War, a British submarine sank an Argentine ship, the Belgrano. But she expressed no concern about the British sailors who had died when the Argentine air force, controlled by the military dictators in Buenos Aires, sank Royal Navy ships.

What does this mean? Well he must have listened to Julie Rigg's review twice - once when it was first run, and then a second time. Ye cats and mice driven mad by the noon day sun.

Yet if a reader actually reverts to Rigg's review, it turns out that the reference to Thatcher as a 'tyrant' carries a modifier:

... the older Thatcher watches her younger self. It's a hugely impressive performance from Meryl Streep. One has a feeling she's relishing playing a woman who refused to be cowed or dominated, and who became in Shakespearian terms, a tyrant. Oh yes, the bully is there too, alongside the shocks and the hatreds she felt as IRA bombs exploded and a society crumbling under her tough medicine turned its hatred upon her. (you can hear the rest here)

Yep, it turns out that being a tyrant in Shakespearian terms means being a bit of a bully.

Now it's not the pond's business to defend Julie Rigg - who is generally irritating - nor defend her recommending a movie that will in her words please neither Thatrcher idolaters nor Thatcher haters - especially as it features the always irritating Meryl Streep - but it's a measure of the ideological zealotry of Henderson that he should get so enraged by such a conventional, unexceptional movie review, with added froth of Shakespearian tragedy (elevating Margaret Thatcher to the level of Richard the Third or Julius Caesar, surely exalted company for a grocer's daughter).

Henderson's review of the reviewers culminates in a fulminating frothing:

The likes of Jenkins and Pomeranz and Stratton have a right to be heard. It's just the overwhelming voice of the public broadcaster is left-of-centre, or leftist, and so few right-of-centre, or conservative, voices are heard.

Is this a poignant plea for Henderson to get a gig as movie reviewer, and correct the record on The Iron Lady? No use of Shakespearian rhetorical conceits allowed?

Anyway, on and on Henderson rails, repeating himself willy nilly, as he bemoans the departure of Maurice Newman, who talked of group think:

Not surprisingly, Newman's critique was criticised by ABC types, led by ABC's Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes. However, any sample of ABC programs will reveal an over-representation of left-of-centre views and a gross under-representation of conservative positions.

ABC types? Is that the same as Sydney Institute Henderson types?

Never mind the group think involved in Henderson getting so excited on the beach on Xmas day about yarnbombing and Margaret Thatcher and possibly even basket-weaving.

One of the main reasons the ABC is dull, boring, conservative and inclined to the tedious and the cardigan-wearing is the relentless hammering and yammering it gets from the likes of Henderson (what on earth does he make of triple J?)

What does he want instead of arts programming? CWA recipes, jam-making, and needlework? So why not listen to the country hour? (Oh okay, it's not as cliched as Henderson).

Bizarrely Henderson imagines that the ABC is to the left of both the Labor party and the opposition:

Regular ABC viewers/listeners know that the predominant position heard on the public broadcaster is to criticise Labor or the Coalition on human rights matters (asylum seekers, same sex marriage, anti-terrorism legislation), on foreign policy (the Australian-American alliance, Israel) and on economic reform (labour market deregulation).

Regular ABC viewers/listeners know in fact that on almost every panel imaginable, from Q&A through The Drum through Insiders and etc and etc and etc ad nauseam and ad tedium, there's representatives of the commentariat, from the outrageous Akerman through to the Bolter before he bolted to Ten.

The 7.30 Report routinely indulges in Gillard government bashing, and the news service tragically apes The Australian's talking points and reporting agenda, and now online The Drum has taken The Punch as its model ...

About the only person who seems not to notice is Gerard Henderson, but perhaps that's because he spends Xmas on the beach listening to a re-run of an old arts story about yarnbombing.

He's part of Radio National's problem. A fuddy duddy ageing audience which isn't refreshing, and which in recent years has produced an average five city audience around the 2.4% mark (Revamp for Radio National to lure younger listeners).

If the ABC were to administer Henderson's nostrums, it's easy to imagine the network drifting even lower, under the 2% mark, as viewers switched off, in protest at glowing reviews of Margaret Thatcher, which incidentally take at the historical inaccuracies on view in The Iron Lady, as the art of movie reviewing is treated as an exercise in conservative group think, with everybody made to toe the narrow Henderson ideological line.

There are of course plenty of other commercial radio services in Sydney available for Henderson's pleasure, but perversely he perseveres with the ABC.

It's clearly a case of fixation or desire, but one thing's certain. If the prattling Polonius starts turning up on the ABC, as a major and prominent conservative presenting even one significant ABC program, people will turn off in droves ... numbed by the tedium of warped ideological zealotry ...

Let the yarnbombers and the Julie Riggs roam free, let Counterpoint play last century music in a desperate ploy to keep punters listening, and let Henderson take to listening to his soul mate Alan Jones or Ray Hadley or Chris Smith or ...

(Below: yes, The Hamster Wheel knows all about Henderson's columns of complaint).


  1. Yairs, DP, the new year looks remarkably similar to the last.
    I differ, however, on Gerard. He does merit his own spot before an ABC camera. From my point of view, the best pair of boobs at the ABC cannot entice me take any interest in the breathless exploits of any sportsperson. Since that's what occupies most of the time on ABC24, driven relentlessly by the requisite two pairs of eyes boring into the camera, it must be time to let an earnest old cock like Gerard have a go, by himself.
    He'd be wonderfully enthusiastic about the Olympics, of course, because the venue alone will guarantee the dominance of old colonials over the noisome comeuppances from Asia & Africa, not to mention the hideous spectacle of veiled Muslim women racing against Our Girls on the track.
    Gerard, or a decolletage - no contest!

  2. A one-party media is the essential precursor and accompaniment to a one-party state.

    Further, a one-party state could not be sustainable without a one-party media.

    Keep up the good work, thanks, Loon Pond.


  3. Well, DP, they've done it, again. The two talking heads on ABC Breakfast have declared that inane commentary from the great unwashed is fit for broadcast. "Oh", says Boob1, "Look! We can read out something that's been posted on Twitter or Facebook."
    No, that's crap, ABC.
    Even Rupert's tweets are not more noteworthy than any other, especially as the sole purpose of his foray is to say "Pick a winner, vote Santorum".
    Rupe reminds of Evan (Simon Pegg as the bookshop manager in Black Books), What do you see when you look at me, Manny? I'll tell you what. You see me and you think to yourself, "Hey! There's Rupe. He's a young guy. He listens to the Stereophonics, he rides a scooter, he tweets".
    If Rupe tweeted about the books he's reading, OK. But he'd still be far less engaging than Nic Carr (The Shallows) who usually has more thought than can be condensed into 140 chars or less.
    I've just spent ages trying to crack the login process at Fairfax, since it looks like they've hidden the Opinion section. I have a valid username and password, but keep getting fobbed off with "This web page has a redirect loop". That's annoying.

  4. There's little doubt EA that right at the minute Mark Scott has ceased his clap happiness to pen a memo in support of your idea of Gerard Henderson hosting London Olympic games commentary across all channels on the ABC.

    What a great idea, he'd be a natural, a genuine sports buff and enthusiast, and instead of listening to dangerous radical lesbian feminists on Xmas day, we could be listening to Gerard deal with Thorpie's comeback, and other matters deeply important to civilisation.

    If Scott implements your vision, demand a fee for your services, and surely Mr Henderson must fork over ten per cent of earnings....

    It's only fair. Sure Roy and HG might get a little dark about Gerard stealing their thunder, but sacrifice is what made this country great.

    As for Rupert tweeting ...

  5. Who in Australia is "a prominent conservative"? It can only be political leaders. Howard? Abbott? Perhaps they're the sort Henderson has in mind for appointment as ABC 'presenters'.

    I know! Get Barnaby Joyce to 'read' the 'news' and Corey Bernardi to give commentary.

    Maybe replace Philip Adams with Alan Jones.

    It's the logical progression from where their ABC is currently at...



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