Here's a little history to contemplate this holiday Monday.
March 1938 - Hitler achieves Anschluss with Austria
September 1938 - the Munich crisis and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia begins
October 1938 - Germany moves into the Sudeten land.
November 1938 - Hungarians take a slice of Czechoslovakia
9/10 November 1938, Kristallnacht, reported around the world
March 1939 - Czechoslovakia is no more the protectorates of Bohemia and Moravia are established by Germany
Lithuania gives the district around Memel to Germany
April 1939 - Hitler revokes the 1934 non-aggression pact with Poland and the 1935 Anglo-German Naval agreement, and makes demands on Poland in relation to a Polish Corridor to Danzig and East Prussia
Italy attacks Albania and in May 1939 signs a Pact of Steel with Germany.
July 1939 Robert Gordon Menzies, aka Bob, aka Ming the Merciless, aka pompous Warden of the Cinque Ports, advises a Perth audience:
"History will label Hitler as one of the really great men of the century". "As far as the German people are concerned, Hitler has proved himself a great man and a tireless worker. He dragged his nation from bankruptcy and revolution, and I think he has too much intelligence lightly to cast them back into another war". "Let us judge Hitler soberly and fairly ..." Menzies began, before the audience drowned out the rest of his sentence ...
Shortly after in August 1939, Stalin notoriously and cynically concluded and signed in Moscow the Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.
On September 3rd 1939 Menzies would declare war on a country led by one of the really great men of the century.
So while leftists were profoundly deluded about Stalin, Menzies was profoundly deluded about Hitler. And we could chart exactly the same delusions - with Japan rampant in China and Manchuria - that saw Menzies ship pig iron to Japan shortly before Australia would be at war with that country, despite the objections of trade unionists ...
There are a number of speeches where Menzies revealed his deep delusions, and much later in 1965 he would lead Australia into a singularly useless and destructive war in Vietnam, a path that would involve the revival of conscription, but that's another story.
You'll never read any of this counter history in the Murdoch press. Instead, apparently to outrage any intelligent reader within cooee, the world cops this sort of crap:
Is there any deep irony in all of this?
Well yes, and it's thoughtfully provided by Mark Day, having a senior moment for the reptiles at the lizard Oz, under the header Dumb down at your peril (behind the paywall because this is a holiday and you should be out and about and enjoying the sheer joy of still being alive).
Yep, roll that one around on your tongue. A Murdochian telling fellow Murdochians that you dumb down at your peril ...
Does it get any fucking weirder? Presumably the hapless Day doesn't bother to read the Bolter, the HUN, the Daily Terror, the Crow-eater Daily, the Brisbane cane-toad blower, Akker Dakker, Miranda the Devine railing at bicycles while worshipping the country's First MAMIL, Hendo the Prattling Polonius, and Nick "meteor crater for a brain" Cater, let alone Greg "isn't Tony glorious" Sheridan competing with the bouffant Dennis "isn't Tony even more glorious" Shanahan ...
Never mind, because what Day offers is a bleat that provides a genuine insight into the terrors and fears that presumably make hardened Murdochians wake sweating in the middle of the night.
As usual, it's all to do with the "youff" of today, and their wretched ways:
... I asked if they could explain what they were doing; what were the elements that made social media such a necessary part of living? The answers ran the gamut of "I don't know" to "nothing". Further interrogation revealed they were mostly keeping up with what their friends were doing ("At the mall", "Going to beach", "Just chillin" etc) or checking to see if Justin Bieber had egged any more neighbours. It was clear their engagement with their social media devices was intense, yet the content they were consuming had all the depth and meaning of a saucer. This generation of humanity has never been more connected, which I am sure is a wonderful thing. But why? For what purpose are they engaging so enthusiastically with this new technology?
They are using the greatest educational tool ever devised to share banalities. There are no lessons to be learned, no conclusions to be reached nor any benefit to be taken from life's experiences. They are being consumed by their own noise. My efforts to have a discussion around this were doomed from the start. It was my fault of course - why did I ever think that the youngsters were capable of comparing and debating the merits or otherwise of life before social media when they knew nothing of it? It's like life before electricity, or television. If you didn't know of it, did it really exist?
The pond immediately felt an enormous wave of sympathy for any "youff" caught anywhere near this tedious Ancient Mariner, stopping them and waving his gnarled finger, when all they wanted to do was get to the bloody wedding party ...
It's pathetic really, and sad to watch it all unfold:
We older folk see social media as something new; a phenomenon that needs to be understood and dealt with. Kids see is as the way it is and they deal with it in their own ways. Dating, courting and romancing are rituals played out according to rules known only to the young ones. When I suggested to a teenage grandson that he might pick up the phone and invite a lass to the movies he was horrified, insisting "That's weird," and "You just don't understand." He's right. I don't.
But I do understand that every generation seeks to differentiate itself from the previous and that their parents and grandparents will respond by being appalled, puzzled or confused.
Lass? Oh dear and d'oh ...
Truth to tell, while Australia still floats along in digital lotus land, thanks to big Mal and Monsieur le Lapin, there are many more things already in play than apparently dreamed of by Day.
For an example, look no further than Lauren Collins' The Love App (in The New Yorker's digitally orientated edition late last year), which is about dating and relating in the truly wired turf of Seoul. Unfortunately it's now inside the paywall, but if Day was feeling mildly alienated by the young 'uns around him, he'd be totally freaked out by young courting Koreans.
Come to think of it, he could also freak out by reading, in the same edition, Burkhard Bilger's Auto Correct, about Google's self-driving car (outside the paywall at time of writing), or Kim Tingley's The Body Electric, about computers under the skin (inside the paywall).
But we digress, which is always easy to do when keeping the company of Murdochians. You knew it was coming, didn't you? The pond knows the feeling, and every so often succumbs.
In my day ...
Do go on Mr Day ...
In my early days of newspapering ...
Oh stop it, stop it, you'll go blind. Oh alright, do go on:
I learned that we must shape our products to appeal to young audiences because that is where our future lay. We tried every trick in the book to engage young readers knowing that as they grew up they would have families and join the mainstream they had so resolutely rejected in their youth. Our aim was to ensure they also had a newspaper reading habit.
For media companies, that need to attract the attention of younger audiences is as strong today as ever. Technologies may change but not the imperative of constant renewal.
The imperative of constant renewal?
The lizard Oz itself is full of angry old white male farts, and so is the Daily Terror and most of the other Murdoch rags around the country. There's about as much constant renewal at work in these rags as there is in the rocks of the MacDonnell Ranges ...
And then we get to the real comedy:
Newspaper publishers face an uphill, perhaps impossible, task here. How do you proselytise the virtues of newspapers to people who never read them and consider those who do to be dinosaurs? Certainly, it can't be done through "down-ageing" your product to appeal to a demographic that's not paying attention - which in itself is a strong argument for editors to eschew elements that tend to dumb down their content.
Uh huh. Here's a random example of the elevated fiercely intellectual content on hand at the HUN and the Daily Terror today:
Now the pond has no view on all these stories. Whatever floats your boat. It was Day wot got his knickers in a knot about Bieber.
If you want to head off to news.com.au to read Ex-maid: 'Bieber's becoming a zombie', feel free, though you might cop a blast from Mark Day about the mindless youff of today and their interest in Justin Bieber, and never mind that the useless dingbat editor of that august News Corp site is after some clicks from the youff of today, and has laid out the click bait accordingly.
But do go on Mr. Day:
If today's newspaper audience is older, chances are it's also wiser and less tolerant of pre-digested nonsense masquerading as news.
Is that why we cop this sort of opinionated crap from the Murdochian commentariat, which gets weirder by the day and puts the Bolter in the company of Michael Mansell? (Mansell criticises Goodes' selection)
In fact, now he's back from holiday, instead of sounding a little chill and mellowed out, the Bolter is sounding weirder than ever, and more rabid and ratbag, to the point of unseemly hysteria.
There's been rants about Bernardi (Abetz defends Bernardi: what counts is the argument, not the offence), yet another totally predictable rant about climate science in the usual mis-representational style (Paltridge: this warming pause may destroy the reputation of science - because, you know, science is only about the climate, and not the computer or the internet the Bolter uses, or a million other things we have science to thank for), or most recently, right at this moment, a bizarre attack on Tony Abbott in Abbott insults conservatives on his racial "crusade", because Der Führer isn't being Führer enough.
It even includes this immortal line:
...Abbott and his fellow travelers (sic, in the sense of so and bloody thus) on the Left are very, very wrong.
Ah that dangerous, deviant radical lefty Tony Abbott. Tell us more, Bolter:
To criticise his opponents in this debate as simply lacking heart is just another form of the Left’s grim cry of “racist” to shut down debate. It is unworthy and suggests Abbott is not confident in the strength of his argument.
Here's the thing Mr. Day.
However you cut it, the Bolter is a very angry white man of Dutch descent with a bizarre set of bees in his bonnet, including a strange love for Cory Bernardi, a crusading denialist approach to climate science, and an astonishing position on racial matters, which occasionally leads him to conclude that Tony Abbott is a lefty.
It's really weird. Who on earth would want the "youff" of today to read this sort of simple-minded, dangerous commentariat crap?
They're much better off listening to Justin Beiber, though the pond knows some young people who listen to Shostakovich ...
But do go on Mr. Day:
The route to newspaper longevity in these challenged times is more likely to come through respect for your existing audience rather than hope that you'll attract a new audience through immature news presentation.
You're joking right? News Corp is in the business of mature news presentation? Now pull the other one. We all need a laugh on a holiday Monday:
James Harding, a former editor of The Times, now head of news at the BBC, touched on these themes in a recent lecture in London. He said the era when newspapers had the power and aspiration to command public opinion and shape political agendas was over. In the past the power of the press had been put to good use, fighting injustice and inequality, but questions about whether it is possible to harness the power of the internet for the same purposes are left hanging.
Ah, so that's it. It's just another case of relevance deprivation syndrome, which seems to torture Fairfaxians, as here.
But won't it be great when the evil empires of people like Rupert Murdoch do indeed become totally irrelevant?
The power of the press to do good was executed through individuals who directed their publishing empires.
What? The way Chairman Rupert directed the News of the World and still directs Fox News?
But no individuals exercise such power over the internet. Every individual now has the capacity to connect with multitudes and exert their influence.
And thank the long absent lord for that. May a thousand voices bloom and may a thousand voices peacefully contend in virtual digital debate, way more sensible than getting out an AK 47, and vastly more sensible than pissing money against the wall helping sustain an evil empire. Why you could buy lots of Bieber music and not spend a cent to read the Murdochians, and what would be the harm? Brain death comes in many forms ...
We are constantly told education is the most important building block of modern life, both for individuals and societies, yet the capacity of the internet to deliver education is the least desired and exploited aspect of the relationship between us and our connecting devices.
But here's the thing. The Australian and the Murdoch tabloids are actively doing harm to the fabric of Australia. They're not using what power they have left to educate, they're using that fading power to mount ideological crusades and to terrorise anyone who disagrees with them. They toe a rigid corporate line like Bolter bees in a monolith ...
As Jon Stewart once sort of said about Crossfire, you're hurting not just America or Australia, you're hurting the world. Here's what I wanted to tell you guys. Stop ... you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
The more the youff of today ignores the Murdochian empire, and find other ways to acquire news and information and to relate to each other, the better.
There's just a few obstacles to this new digital future:
Never mind. Let's have a New Yorker internet joke from its digitally orientated edition. More New Yorker cartoons here.