September 06, 2006
Dead Legends and Black Sheep
For reasons best known to herself, Germaine Greer has bothered to pen a less-than-sympathetic piece about the late Steve Irwin for the Grauniad and unsurprisingly the local boys have been ramping up the outrage. (Incidentally, I can't help thinking the truncated version of Greer's spray which ran in the Herald comes across as a bit less sensible than the original.) Now, I happen to think Jack Marx is a bit of a tosser, but he's right on the money with this:
Loudest of all is the Melbourne Herald Sun, who report today that "a storm of fury has erupted over Germaine Greer's criticism of Steve Irwin". In fact, the "storm" was induced by The Herald Sun's own journalists, jumping on the phone to extract whatever inclement weather they could muster from interested (or otherwise) parties. It was a piece whose opinion was decided with or without the phone calls, editorialising thusly:And in further media-related matters:
The expat Aussie, known more these days for her regular bashing of her homeland...hit below the belt as she accused Irwin of sending the wrong message to kids.
This is interesting, for, two years ago, The Herald Sun led the witchhunt for Irwin, Jill Singer hooking in good and proper in an editorial headlined: "Dad's a Drongo". In contrast to Greer's "scathing attack", which at least had the temper to go the issue and not the man, Singer's piece referred to Irwin as "simple-minded", "Neanderthal", "a Tarzanesque, chest-beating reductionist", a "dangerous dropkick" and a "dill", before going on to declare that "this foolish pair" of parents were setting a lousy example indeed, their actions comparable to some of the world's more loathed personages:
Steve has a lot in common with his heroes. John Howard toughens up the babies of asylum seekers by locking them behind razor wire from the time they're born, while George Bush assures the world that Iraqi and Afghani babies must be bombed for their own good.
The piece went on to compare Irwin to Michael Jackson.
What's happened between then and now? Nothing much, really - Irwin never changed his approach to life, and, as far as I know, never issued anything close to an apology for the way he lived.
What's changed is that, today, he's dead, and death sells by the bushell.
But you can't sell a dead "drongo", so it's "hero", "legend" and "larrikin" all the way, and anyone who doesn't toe that line is a creep.
Red Ted, Play School and hidden agendasBut as the Head of ABC children's programming pointed out in a letter to the Tele:
...the harmless happy family content has fallen victim to the nauseating politically-correct agenda that drives so much of the ABC’s news and current affairs programming on radio and television.
— The Daily Telegraph, Red Ted, Play School and hidden agendas, 29th August, 2006
This is what had Piers searching out the commissars of political correctness [said Media Watch].
Baa baa woolly sheep have you any wool? Yes sir yes sir three bags full..one full for the jumpers and one for the socks and one for the little girl with holes in her socks.
— Play School, ABC TV, 23rd August, 2006
As Piers wrote, "You get the drift".
Black sheep are out…
But if black sheep have been magically erased, it seems likely that words such as "master", "dame" and "sir" have also been banned for fear of upsetting the sensitivities of the ABC's young audience.
We did sing "Baa baa woolly sheep", as part of a segment related to wool, on Play School, as Piers Akerman states in his article headed "Red Ted, Play School and hidden agendas" (The Daily Telegraph, August 29).I'd like to say this conclusively demonstrates that Piers Akerman has an attention span somewhat less than that of a small child but, as it was apparently the idiot reader who sent him the tip-off who failed to watch the sheep song til the end, I'll have to content myself with merely implying it.
However, far from the traditional version of Baa Baa Black Sheep being magically erased -- along with the master and the dame and sir -- it was just 34 seconds later in the very same program we sang: "Baa baa black sheep, Have you any wool, Yes sir yes sir, Three bags full. One for the master, One for the dame, One for the little boy who lives down the lane."
When it comes to Piers's next article, as we say on Play School, he may need a grown-up to help him.