Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In which the pond continues the quest for comedy in politics and religion ...

(Above: a cartoon with Turnerish qualities but not much to do with what follows, found here).

There's defensiveness, and then there's defensiveness squared:

As Laura Tingle noted in her pointed response to Media Watch, recent events have not been brought about by journalists tub-thumping for a spill or any backgrounding of journalists by Kevin Rudd or his supporters, but by Julia Gillard’s dire polling, perceived lack of trustworthiness and lack of political judgment.

So it had absolutely nothing to do with the over-weening ambition of former Chairman Rudd, or the baying pack of hounds otherwise known as the Murdoch press, rolling out leak after destabilising leak, or tub-thumping for a spill?

It's just all Julia Gillard's fault, because she's a naughty girl?

Funnily enough Bernard Keane then goes on to insist in Bagging the gallery isn't the whole story re: leadership 'beat-up' that things are complicated, and that the media coverage building up to the leadership challenge is entirely understandable, and the poor hapless press gallery is being given a hard time by wretched social media, boo hoo.

You have to feel sorry for Keane, because on a daily basis he's given the job of making Crikey look like it's got an active reporting staff busily at work covering daily events, but his piece shows all the signs of having been scribbled in haste, and without the merest attempt to think through the logical contradictions inherent in his ideas.

It truly gets risible when the readership is blamed for the state of journalism. This will be a familiar excuse to anyone involved in the movie industry.

Here's how that line goes ... Why did you make such a crappy movie? Well mate, we're just giving the public what they want ... Why did you feel the need to show the tree roots raping the girl? Don't look at me mate, we just give the audience what they want to consume ...

Keane's version:

In that context, you can’t blame the media for trying to milk that for all it’s worth, knowing that the big policy story next week, or the budget in May, will likely fail to interest most voters. Yes, they should devote more effort to covering policy, and producers and editors should support that, and media executives should fund it better, but if audiences won’t consume it, it’s problematic.

Yes, the media is just giving what audiences want, which is circuses, show ponies and high kicking chorus lines.

... spills are also easier to cover because voters are more likely to tune in to politics during such moments of high drama.

High drama? If the doings in Canberra are high drama, how to describe what's happening in Syria at the moment?

Most political journalists in the commercial media face a quiet ongoing battle with editors and producers to get profile and coverage for news out of Canberra, particularly when it deals with complex areas of policy that translate poorly into a 60-second story for the evening news. But leadership contests always get viewers paying attention, to break their normal disengagement with politics to focus on what’s happening.

Ready when you are C.B.! Let's roll out the elephants, and get the folks to pay attention to the circus.

This is of course a mile away from Keane's initial premise that the whole leadership debacle was simply the work of Julia Gillard, her polling, and her untrustworthiness.

But in terms of social media, his piece was a raging success. He got over a hundred comments - a high total for Crikey - most of them raging about the ineptness of his analysis. Not so easy to get the media off the hook, eh Mr. Keane, especially when peddling bubble-headed defensiveness ...

Keane has always been a little highly strung. Did he really write this?

He seems to have shifted from eco terrorist to corporate shill for the press gallery, but perhaps next time he should let the Murdochians, the Fairfaxians, and the ABC defend themselves.

Or just let Phillip Adams conduct a high mass for the departed Kevin Rudd in Labor Woes, wherein all was doom and gloom, and darkness and blackness and Hanrahanish ruin, with the apocalypse around the corner (hark, is that the hoofbeat of the four horses), as he faces up to a full year of not mentioning how Kevin Rudd should be the PM, usurped as he was by that evil faceless red-headed harridan ...

Oh sweet joy. Who says there's no upside in politics?

And now for something completely different, as we head over to The Punch, which still imagines it can find useful copy by publishing pieces provided for free, such as Steve Kryger's brain-free God I'm sick of comedians laughing at religion:

According to his attached bio, Kryger enjoys thinking about how a Jesus-inspired worldview can shape Australia for the better, and is clearly entitled to his personal delusions,even if it reminds the pond exactly why Evangelical Union types in university days were viewed as priggish nerdy Pamela pale-faced Christ wonks absolutely without a shred or a sign of a sensa huma.

I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule. I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

Uh huh. All Kryger's really saying is that Christian conferences must be as boring as batshit, and that Christians, like Republicans, really should do something about their comedy routines. Otherwise you end up with this kind of painful to read nonsense:

Let me be clear: religion shouldn’t be off-limits for comedians. The blasphemous comments that mock the God I know and love grieve me. However, the right to free speech should protect the topic of religion too. Besides, some satire (yes, even about Christians) is genuinely funny.

My question for atheists today is this: do you think the incessant mockery and smug ridicule benefits your cause?

Kryger's right of course. Incessant mockery and smug ridicule has done very little to reduce the role of Islamic fundamentalism in the world, especially as the mockers and the ridiculers sometimes cop a stoning or a whipping or worse. But by golly it's fun.

Where would the United States be without the likes of Colbert and Stewart (and before them Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and so on)?

Why in the hands of Rick Santorum is the answer, yet again creating a perfect storm by explaining how he wanted to throw up listening to John F. Kennedy endorse the United States constitution, and its separation of church and state. Santorum now wishes he had that particular line back, but in taking the line back, he shows he still doesn't have the first clue about the principles underlying the foundation of the country (Rick Santorum On JFK 'Throw Up' Comments: 'I Wish I Had That Particular Line Back').

Now some will take Santorum seriously. The Washington Post expended a solemn editorial on Santorum, thereby treating him as a serious contender, while explaining at the same time that he's a seriously misinformed and ignorant contender. Like making contraception a political issue:

He has said, for example, that contraception is “one of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about. . . . It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

If all he wanted to do was talk, we would say, Have at it — no matter how misguided we think he is on birth control and many other matters. But does Mr. Santorum really understand the difference between talking about a policy and imposing his views?

And then there was the matter of Kennedy and Obama's religion:

When he so misreads Mr. Kennedy, when he perceives a war that does not exist, he shows a lack of appreciation for the First Amendment. When he accuses President Obama of harboring a “phony theology” — “Not a theology based on Bible. A different theology” — it seems he does not understand the line between policy and religion. Mr. Santorum later explained that he was not questioning Mr. Obama’s faith, only his environmental policy. But theology means “the study of God and of the relations between God, humankind and the universe.”

That Mr. Santorum believes he has the standing to declaim on the rightness of Mr. Obama’s faith, and whether it is sufficiently Bible-based, is in itself disqualifying.

All true enough, but if Steve Kryger had his way, comedians wouldn't be allowed to mock Santorum incessantly and subject his views to smug ridicule, and then where would we be?

Why without the frothy Santorum mix for which he's justly famous, as you'll find if you're one of the rare breed that's never visited, here. Click through for the Santorum comedy show ...

Kryger can rage all he likes about being sick of comedians, but without comedians, how sick and sorry would the world be at the sight of the likes of Kryger and Santorum?

(Below: and more comedy here, as Santorum, with a B.A., M.A., and J.D. in law explains how college is for snobs. Where are the comedians, we need more comedians, or even some clowns).


  1. Thanks for the link! I wish I had the attention span to write a long and thoughtful post such as yours. :D

    In addition to Bruce and Pryor, I gotta say we owe a lot to Bill Hicks in American political humor. All three of those guys would have a blast analyzing the current election.

  2. The tag on the 'toon is 'after Monet', but we'll allow your cast. :)
    Here's for a laugh, about the Crazy Watering Can.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. I've never had a problem with being a "priggish nerdy Pamela pale-faced Christ wonk absolutely without a shred or a sign of a sensa huma"

  5. Now that doesn't surprise me at all. Have you ever considered joining the true Church and abandoning the Anglican heresy?

  6. Sydney Diocese is NOT Anglican. It's a branch of the Taliban.

  7. Ah David, rejoice in the way that the pond will be a crisp lobster red basking in the glow of hellfire for all eternity, along with the Sydney Anglicans, but never having enjoyed the comfort of Darling Point. Paddington was as close as it got ...

    As for Monet v Turner EA, never trust the artist's signature always trust the tale. Turner did sea and mist and ruins, Monet did haystacks and water lilies in ponds. I rest my case. Though I agree you could paint Murdoch as a dank pond, and it would come out right.

  8. Thank you Ms Parker. You may be interested to know that my fame - and words of wisdom - are widespread on the internet.

  9. Oh, DP, it was Turneresque, for sure.
    Now, I'm wondering how Frank Goya would have done the Murdoch mob.
    You will like but how do you explain the ferocious all-out attack on Gillard over the minuscule matter of a Senate vacancy? Nothing to do with crooks at The Sun & the retreat of young James, of course.
    Maybe there was a fight at the Kool-Aid dispenser over whether to run Paul Krugman's Four Phonies Update.
    Did you read Stephen Bartholomeusz on moves at News to spin off their newspapers? Clive Palmer would make a magnificent proprietor of The Oz.


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.