Wednesday, April 04, 2012

From King Lear to utopia, and only ants in the way ...

(Above: here at the pond, minds have already turned to casting the Murdoch movie. And Christopher Plummer has already played King Lear! For more casting suggestions, head off to Vogue here).

It's now possible to see Rupert Murdoch as a twittering old King Lear.

It's not a perfect fit, what with the sons being more misbehaving than the daughters, as James Murdoch says farewell to another post. (James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chairman as hacking scandal deepens).

But Murdoch has taken to playing the Fool to his Lear, as Annabel Crabb noted in Twitter, Twupert and spellcheck:

Twupert is impulsive, charming, irascible, fabulously entertaining and constantly in need of spellcheck.
But scary? Not very. Not any more.

Yes indeed.

Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
put 'em i' th' paste alive. She knapp'd 'em o' th' coxcombs with
a stick and cried 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that,
in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay. (and all your other favourite Fool lines here).

But there's now a longer game in play, with news that the Christian Brothers Investment Services are trying again with a petition to strip Murdoch of the News Corp chair (here). You must realise you're in trouble when an organisation connected to a church rife with pedophilia issues thinks you're beyond the ethical pale.

And this time the CBIS havce done it in a way that will make next October's AGM meeting very interesting. In 2010 Murdoch was opposed by just over 2% of votes, but that climbed to 14% at the last AGM. Where will it reach this coming October?

Of course the elaborate deployment second class shares, and the Murdoch family controlling some 40% of the vote means that the CBIS might not get the result they want, but it creates another tension in the house of Lear.

Once Murdoch goes - and he will, because everything and everyone must pass - the likely result will be a hell of an asset strip, because News Corp has a lot of attractive assets and a lot of dead weight that has been allowed to flourish because News has always indulged in vanity projects (think many of the newspapers for starters).

Speaking of useless vanity projects, how long will The Punch last, once an accountant comes down from the trees and does a cost-benefit analysis?

Surely it's one of the most far-fetched and inexplicable blogging efforts in an empire which routinely decries blogs and bloggers, a venue that gives vent to the thoughts of second rate political hacks who can't believe they can get a chance to publish their idle thoughts for free.

But even worse there's the journalists who feel the need as part of their job description to bring copy to the beast, and lay it at its feet. This copy is usually tossed off, which is why it's called tosser copy, and Anthony Sharwood provides a perfect example in Earth to Bob. Little green men won't save the world.

It seems Sharwood fancies himself as a little sir echo to Gerard Henderson. (Perhaps what's needed is somebody to help him with his self-esteem. Is there a Freudian in the house?)

It should be acknowledged that the ant - it seems he's called the ant by devoted followers - is a twit, because he's a follower of David Penberthy as well. And David Penberthy started off his hatchet job on Bob Brown, Calling occupants of interplanetary Bob, by calling Greens barking mad, and then admitting that he was a fan of The Carpenters

As an easy listening fan I have always enjoyed the work of The Carpenters but like many bands late in their career they had a shark-jumping moment with the song featured above, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.

Fuck the pond dead. A fan of The Carpenters calling others barking mad.

But back to the Ant (yes, he probably should get a capital A), and what passes for Ant humour:

Today, we have all sorts of larger more powerful entities, like Exxon and Coke and the evil Stormtroopers of News Corp. (By the way, do you know how hard it is to scratch an itch under all that white armour?)

Yes, yes, but a stormtrooper with a taste for pathetic jokes is still a stormtrooper, so storm away Ant:

In short, he was saying the environment can’t compete in the era of transnationals, and that was a fair point. It’s a shame he didn’t just say it like that. Indeed, he could’ve argued a bunch of sensible stuff that didn’t invoke the words “aliens”, Earthians” and global government”.

He could have argued for the world’s major independent environmental groups – the Greenpeaces, the WWFs and so on – to bond together and form a super NGO.

He might’ve even made a case for all the environmental political parties of the world to form an entity resembling the UN but with organic vegetarian canapés at their functions. That would’ve made all kinds of sense too.

Well it might have made sense to pathetic News journalists with a pathetic taste in vegetarian canapés humour, as if by definition anyone interested in the environment must be a loopy, crazy, wacky, zany vegetarian up there with vegetarian dog-loving Adolf Hitler. (oh yes google aliens and Adolf and see what you get).

But what to make of this considered response?

Instead, we all had the greatest laugh at the expense of aliens since the excellent British sitcom Red Dwarf. The result of which is that no one will ever again take Bob Brown seriously.

Fuck the pond dead a second time. After reading one wacky zany Bob Brown speech, which you can read, addressed to fellow Earthians, here, no one, including the Ant, will ever again take Bob Brown seriously. At least until the next time the minority federal government needs a vote ...

And yet the Ant's just revealed he likes Red Dwarf, as if it gives him some kind of cult credentials. Fool, go drink some dog's milk, it's full of vitamins and marrowbone jelly.

And then there's the sorrowful, wistful, self-indulgent posturing

So blame the Hate Media if you must, Bob. But this Murdoch stormtrooper, who donates to environmental causes and who will spend Easter camped without gadgets under a gum tree somewhere, believes you have let him down, as you have let down all lovers of the environment.

Yes, if you go camping without gadgets, by definition you're an environmentalist. And when you return to your city environment, make sure you keep on flinging the same old shit all over the place.

One speech mentioning cosmological and world governance matters, and the Ant retires hurt to a gum tree, let down like all the other lovers of the environment who donate to environmental causes.

What sooks. Yes, that's another David Penberthy concept, when he suddenly in a paranoid way discovered the Murdoch empire was on the nose and blamed it all on sooks. (Tharrr be pirates: a media fantasy, cheered on by sooks).

So back to the Ant for a farewell word:

Talk sense, Bob. It’s fine to be wistful and a little eccentric as you age, but for the sake of every last eucalypt, cockatoo and coral polyp, we all need your pronouncements from public office to be a heck of a lot more grounded.

And there you have it. The straitjacket of narrow, boring, conforming News Ltd rhetoric is trotted out one more time, and Bob Brown is given a fitting, and from now on he must conform, and parade and posture according to the instructions of the Ant.

No more dreaming, no more speculation, no more idle flights of fancy, just the dull green and brown predictability - with vegetarian canapés - which is expected of greenies.

It's the intolerance that's the most insufferable thing. It reminds the pond of the time huddling in school playgrounds passing around science fiction, like pornography or contraband, at a time the boofhead rugby league cretins who ran the school deemed H. G. Wells a socialist deviant. (Thank you Bobbie for your much-thumbed copies of John Wyndham, I know it was a soft way in, but it was a way in).

And here's the thing. What on earth is the Ant blathering about?

You see, he's already established that no one will ever take Bob Brown seriously again. Isn't that the end of the story?

That's the message at the start:

Like a severed finger or a razed old growth forest, credibility doesn’t grow back. And that’s a shame because Australia needs the leader of its environmental party to be un-nutty. The Tassie devils dying of facial tumours need it, the koalas dying of Chlamydia need it, and the 100 year old sea turtles strangled by plastic bags need it.

So the entire rant is entirely unnecessary. Bob Brown, according to the Ant, is a nutter, entirely lacking in credibility, which will never grow back. So the Ant has wasted his readers time, his own time, and possibly Bob Brown's time.

There is a solution of course. The Ant seems to know exactly what Brown should say and do, so he could become the new Brown. Or at least some kind of pale beige corduroy imitation. Sorry, that's just another canapés routine ...

Of course Brown should be taken to task, but not for ant reasons.

In his future utopia - yes there was a time when the writing about utopias from the Garden of Eden to Thomas More's Utopia was taken as a perfectly respectable line of work for intellectuals - Brown allows in Murdochian journalists, which means by definition that it's a fantasy:

Unless and until we accord every other citizen of the planet, friend or foe, and regardless of race, gender, ideology or other characteristic, equal regard we, like them, can have no assured future.

You see! The silly bugger wants to let in people like the Ant, self-admittedly a stormtrooper with an itch!

And the Ant's demanding Brown talk sense. Which is to say talk like an Ant, which is, when you come to think about it, completely nonsensical. And so, just like Thomas More, Brown's utopia is sure to founder.

But at least there's an AGM coming in October in Murdoch land, and then we'll see about foundering.

Meanwhile, speaking of science fiction and fantasy, the pond was reminded of a quote by that valiant defender of the genre, Ursula K. L. Guin:

I am not a progressive. I think the idea of progress an invidious and generally harmful mistake. I am interested in change, which is an entirely different matter. I like stiff, stuffy, earnest, serious, conscientious, responsible people, like Mr. Darcy and the Romans.

She might even like Bob Brown, who at least dares to dream.

Keep on dreaming Bob, but remember, the ants will always be there, gnawing away at the dream ... and demanding you get in to your narrow two by four suburban box, dressed out with meat pies, footyballs, eight cylinder engines, and a picture of Gerard Henderson on the wall next to the Queen.

(Below: well it passed for an image of utopia in 1518 - details here, and more on Utopia here).

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