Saturday, June 02, 2012

If Rowan Dean is an AFR resource, ship him to China this instant ...

(Above: if he can stand corrected, why does he scribble sitting down?)

It comes as a real shock to get the weekend Australian Financial Review flung over the front fence on a Saturday ... for free naturally, since the throwaway boosts Fairfax's numbers and the price boosts the pond's sense of a fair deal ...

It invariably goes unread, but recently the pond has taken to noticing the scribbles of Rowan Dean.

Dean, it seems, is the replacement for Peter Ruehl, who shuffled off the twig back in 2011, and was presented in the inimitable AFR Fairfax way as a right wing humorist and scotch drinker (apparently the two go together). (Peter Ruehl, columnist and humorist, dies at 64, may be paywall afflicted).

Because of the job's credentials - right wingers who are humorists, perhaps in the way that Hitler always showed a keen satirical self-awareness - a replacement was no doubt hard to find, and the AFR must have resorted to scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Well they scraped and they scraped, and then they came up with Rowan Dean.

The problem is, Dean's about as funny as being hit about the face repeatedly by a wet haddock in a Monty Python dancing skit. (You can relive that moment here on YouTube)

You can sample an example of Dean's work in Pollie folly fed by failure to punish.

On the evidence to hand, the pond gives the AFR another year in print form, after the desperate free over the fence giveaways have failed to staunch the bleeding. By definition, the news section will always be out of date up against the free flowing intertubes, so the only reason for hard copy is to savour the opinions, the thinking and the columnists.

Savouring Rowan Dean is a bit like relishing oil in a sump pit.

Let's take just one example of what Dean possibly fancies as irony or satire, but really couldn't even pass muster in primary school as an example of sarcasm:

In one incident that shocked the researchers, a Gold Coast individual who could never get his sums to add up was given the top prize of The World’s Greatest Finance Minister. “The consequences for the entire nation were terrible – he started declaring warfare on everyone who wasn’t in his class.”

Class warfare yet again? Oh pack him up and throw him to the sharks - given him a bottle of scotch to send him on his way - or send him off to The Australian, where adolescence is a permanent state of mind.

He sounds even more silly than poor old Patrick Cook, who is now only let out once a month on Counterpoint, and is so bitter, you could only use him as grapefruit on your morning breakfast cereal.

We could go on with more and more Deanish examples, but we have a crayon we'd like to insert into our brain in honour of Homer Simpson:

There are dozens of other clowns and comedians on the intertubes, and an almost infinite number do it better.

Why not try Charlie Brooker, for example? He gave The Avengers a right royal hammering in Behold: the Marvel Avengers Assemble 3D experience, and concluded:

Finally – and this is an odd accusation to level at a superhero film – it didn't feel very real. I reckon only about 8% of what was on screen was actually there. The rest was imagined by computers. And please, leery tragi-men, don't dribble on about "Scarlett Johansson's arse in 3D" being "worth the price of admission". The film was shot in 2D and converted to 3D using software, which means you're actually drooling over a 2D image of Scarlett Johansson's arse wrapped around a wireframe model of an arse that isn't there. You're sitting in front of HAL 9000, jerking off like a monkey. Somewhere, the machines are laughing at you.

Now that at least conjures up machine warfare rather than class warfare. And it gives the pond a chance to boost clicks and please gentlemen readers by showing Scarlett Johansson's bum:

What an inspiration Tony Abbott is! What a brave bum-led future we'll all have, provided those gays on the boats don't make it here.

Or if you want a political tang, why not try Charlie Skelton? He's just given Bilderberg 2012: bring on the Bilderbabes a blast, but as well as giving the participants a dust up, he also allows the protestors a neat cameo:

Protesters at Bilderberg up their game: 'What do they want? Hegelian dialectics! When do they want it? Now!'

The protesters seem to have upped their game when it comes to slogans. "We are not the indentured slaves of your oligarchy!" booms a bullhorn, from beneath a banner that seeks redress for the "war profiteering" of "eugenicist thugs".

How does that compare to snidery about class warfare and the world's greatest treasure? LUL (lame uncomfortable laugh), SL, WACK, Lameo and crickets (more intertubes abuse here if you want it).

That's the trouble for Dean and Fairfax. These days the world's the stage when it comes to satirical writing, and why would you bother reading tinpot soft lefty bashing by an antipodean hack when you've got the world's best to pick from? (Which is why it's just as well the pond's a cry of rage and pain and a therapeutic device, rather in the game of demanding - with or without menaces - money for comedy writing).

In the old days, the AFR used to recycle bits from The New Yorker, the NY Review of Books, and any other publication it could beg, borrow or buy from, as a way of boosting its weekend credentials. It still seems to do a bit of it, but maybe the budget's run dry, or they've finally worked out that print duplication of this kind long ago became irrelevant.

There's a book review lifted from the UK Daily Telegraph (featuring the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers - it's the AFR, natch), and another about a renegade Rothschild, which was first given an airing in the New Statesmen.

Apparently there are no local book reviewers up to the job, though if that's the case who worked out Rowan Dean was up to the business of being a print comedian?

The lead piece in the Perspective section is by Laura Tingle (Angry and Entitled), which turns out to be an edited extract from her Quarterly Essay 46, due out this Monday, but at least they can claim that Tingle is a homebody, and one of the few reasons to actually read the AFR, and it's a whole two days ahead scoop, whoopee doo.

Much of the rest of the commentary is what you might call soft-core Murdoch, The Australian without the hysteria or the crusader mentality, but with plenty of born to rule the financial world sauce.

It looks a malnourished rag now that it's largely forced back on its own resources.

Rowan Dean is a resource? What a pity it's not the kind that can be dug up and shipped to China ... and then he could yammer on about class warfare all he liked ...

(Below: in case you were wondering, here's what the rest of the T said. Couldn't they have found room for "and I'm just not that funny"?)

And now a special musical treat, as the pond keeps getting inspired by Tony Abbott and his recent thoughts and deeds. And who knows, it might also prove valuable for any Rowan Dean type advertising person wanting to devise a truly appalling advertisement for Victorian tourism. (That's travelling in Victoria, not visiting musty nineteenth century Victorian England in search of comedy).

And by the way, the lyrics work exceptionally well if you sing Rabbit or Abbott ...

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