Watching the Detectives

I’m not one of those people who plonk myself in front of Media Watch every Monday evening in the delicious anticipation of being Thoroughly Outraged and Deeply Disturbed at the manifest evidence of Left Wing Bias. That the ABC will largely reflect the broadly left liberal slant of every public broadcaster in the liberal democratic world is surely self-evident. Aren’t those who demand that it should be otherwise, dangerously close to the same positioning that they identify as wrong-headed in the ABC? Namely, that the masses will somehow be persuaded to think the wrong way about things unless their idea of appropriate ‘balance’ is struck? I think we underestimate the masses; people are actually a bit more complex that that at the end of the day and anyway, most of them, last night, were watching the final “Big Brother’ episode on Channel 10.

Having said that, I did watch last night’s Media Watch and not for the first time, wondered whether it mightn’t be almost a clever parody of just the sort of pompous, evasive posturing it claims to be on a mission to detect and destroy. The sort of self-indulgent innerurbanati proselytising and patronising that makes you wonder at the scale of effrontery required to claim that this represents Australia’s foremost forum for media analysis.

It commenced with the traditional go at the provincial press, this time in Bunbury W.A. where Marr swiped at the local paper’s juxtaposing of a news item on nineteenth century graves being disturbed by construction, with an ad for recycling old speakers headed ‘bring out your dead.’ So typical of these yokels to make such a tasteless error of judgment. It will be an amusing anecdote for one’s next dinner party.

On to SBS where a TV news piece on the King of Tonga’s 85th birthday featured archival background footage that might have been shot in Fiji given that a bus with ‘Fiji’ on it’s side rumbled through the scene. I kept waiting for the major revelation, but that was it. Earth-shattering stuff. Thank God for the foremost forum and all that.

So to commercial TV and Channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’ show where Marr’s focus was on a guest being swiftly cutoff after using the word ‘fuckwit’ on air. Marr was utterly contemptuous of the Presenters’ consternation at this breach of guidelines. It’s in the Macquarie Dictionary he assured us and ran the word onscreen to show how much more mature the ABC is about this sort of thing. It was also after 9pm as opposed to 7.30 in the morning when the incident occurred on ‘Sunrise,’ but there you go.

7 also offended David by running ad and promo voiceovers over the end credits of a show about Nazism. ‘How crass can 7 get’ he demanded; no doubt flashing on the tracky-dacked, bum-scratching horde of typical 7 viewers who would re-define ‘crass’ for David. Not a ‘Dark Victory’ purchaser amongst them.

I agree that it did sound a bit inappropriate to have shopping exhortations ringing out over death camp statistics but, you know, enough entre nous chat over the canape filler shit, when’s the Foremost Forum main course going to get up?

Enter Miranda Devine. This blogger has already had a go at Miranda for her Ph.D scandal piece and if he might say so it was a bloody sight more incisive than Marr’s. Marr’s concern was that the now legendary ‘Jesus was Gay’ Ph.D to which Devine referred was in fact only tangentially so. Yes indeed. But that wasn’t of course Devine’s point – if she had one at all. One thing is for sure, Marr didn’t have anything approaching a point – other than dissing Devine. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.

And so to Andrew Bolt who got some details wrong in a piece he ran in the Herald Sun about Alison Broinowski. Classic Marr. Ignore Bolt’s main premise and white-ant the pretty miscellaneous stuff.

And that was it. No main course. Just another pointless exercise in self-righteous paper tiger hunting. Media Watch is very clever satire. But someone needs to tell them.

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bargarz
2022 years ago

I gave up on Marr months ago.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

“I think we underestimate the masses … most of them, last night, were watching the final ‘Big Brother’ episode on Channel 10.”

Come again Geoff?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I’m being ironic Chris.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

It’s interesting how often irony is missed in blogosphere. Like, it’s almost a daily occurrence as I flick through my usual blog beat. Automatically, I think it is the absence of voice, yet irony is rarely missed in literature. Perhaps it is to do with the short conversational style of blogtalk ….

woodsy
woodsy
2022 years ago

You’re right MW has become a parody. It should be renamed Frontline Media Watch and done properly. I miss Frontline, I remember talking to someone at work about the episode the previous night and being amazed when it became obvious that they thought the program was for real.

The reason why irony and parody isn’t used more often in the blogosphere is the relative unsophistication of the audience – I’ve tried it once or twice and readers have commented as though I was for real. Na…. that sounds pompous….. perhaps the fact that Chris has difficulty in finding irony in blogs says more about Chris than it does about the way blogs are written.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

I think Micallef should host Mediawatch

bargarz
2022 years ago

That would work a treat Homer.

In the bin!!!!

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Geoff,

is this some kind of inner city Sydney intra-gay factional dispute?

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I’d think you’re right woodsy, except that I’m far from being the only one … it happens all the time, and quite often folks miss the irony when even I pick it easily. Nor do I think the unsophisticated nature of the audience necessarily explains it, since often the most unlikely blogggers and commentators miss it.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Micallef would be a good host. So would Andrew Denton or any of the D Gen/Panel guys. In fact anyone with a decent sense of humour and a reasonable brain, who isn’t so far up themselves you can only see the soles of their shoes. Trouble is, Micallef, Denton et al are probably now too expensive for the ABC in its current straitened circumstances. They can only afford losers like Marr. Of course, the real problem is the producers; it probably wouldn’t matter who they had as the presenter, the content they were fed would be equally patronising, elitist and utterly one-sided.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

No Dave. I live in Earlwood where John Howard grew up. We’re more into Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, rather than Media Watch, out here. I don’t know Marr. I was once at a party that he also attended, but I assumed he’d gatecrashed. There’s heaps of poofs in Sydney. Ask Fred Nile.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

I daresay it says more about me than anything else – I sensed that there was some sort of irony going on there. Nevertheless, I found the literal meaning of the comment to be pertinent. Whether or not the masses are underestimated is a matter of opinion. I think there is less room for debate on how they rate Media Watch.

I saw Geoff’s comments as dark humour rather than irony. Oddly I have not completely construed Georff’s comments before. On a post he made on another site was dripping with irony, Chris mistook it and so did I – dripping as it was, the literal meaning summed up my views on that subject very well.

boynton
2022 years ago

I recently discussed the problem of irony misread with a fellow blogger. It does seem to be a common practice on the screen as opposed to on the page. I experimented with designing an icon that would indicate “irony ahead next 3 sentences”, but also feel there is a need for another – even an emoticon – to suggest “irony missed”. Variation on a wink and a blink perhaps?

wen
wen
2022 years ago

I think brevity’s the problem – context is everything when you’re being ironic. You could misread Austen’s “A young man in possession of a fortune is in want of a wife” as a truth universally acknowledged – but she has another three hundred pages to sort you out ….

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

What’s the difference between irony, dark humour and tongue-in-cheek? They really defy definition. If you think you are writing ironically and most readers don’t pick it, well sorry guys, you’re just not successfully communicating. Of course if you’re trying to communicate to the few you want to get it and they do, then you’ve succeeded, haven’t you, and the charge of failing to communicate doesn’t apply. It’s a bit like the way academics communicate with each other. Totally over the head of the uninitiated but so what, they’re successfuly talking to each other. A bit like IT people really.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

It’s ironic – and endlessly fascinating – how comments threads always end up being about something entirely tangential to the initiating post.

If I’d posted about irony, we’d probably be discussing whether or not Media Watch was an exercise in unconscious self-parody.

I should make a note of that insight….

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Leaving aside irony for a moment, I see uncle at ABC Watch has also blogged on lat night’s Media Watch. He carries a fascinating detailed blow by blow refutation from Andrew Bolt of Marr’s slagging of him. On the face of it, it seems that Marr/MW have been very naughty indeed i.e. very clear and serious defamation, possibly involving heavy punitive damages, if Bolt wanted to sue. Although I usually object to media and political figures using the laws of defamation (because they have a forum for correcting the lies), I think this is an exception. MW badly needs to be taught a lesson; they’re continually abusing their power IMO.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

Quite so, Geoff. It just gets boring to comment that we agree with you about MW, and the discussion about irony just looked more promising. Perhaps someone can add something in defence of Marr and Co. Would take a lawyer – you know the sort of guy who can come up with a defence for the most outrageous perp and do it without making it look like he’s speaking through gritted teeth.

mark
2022 years ago

MW has definitely been sliding downhill for some time now: I read transcripts of old episodes (like, say, 1999), and bellow with laughter (or outrage… ahem) every few minutes. These days it’s more a case of “so what?”

Re: irony in the ‘blogosphere. I think it’s because there’s so many bloody stupid people out there, to be honest. I mean, if I read AIR or LGF, my brain’s switched into “expect any sort of stupidity from ‘bloggers”, and so when someone behaves ironically, I’m almost programmed to take them seriously and spill my tea…

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Ken,

I kind of hope that Bolt doesn’t get inveigled into the Brer Rabbit Tar Baby legal action thingo. It only encourages McEvoy and Marr who will run an endlessly self-justifying exercise in semantic exactitude, to no good end other than mass boredom.

The most effective response to Media Watch is to laugh at it….ironically or otherwise.

Oz
Oz
2022 years ago

Geoff,

It’s hard to “just laugh at it” when it’s your money paying for it and you’re acutely aware of the very many other things the money could be used for. I say Go Bolty, extirpate the wankers and free up the dosh for a more deserving cause.

craig
craig
2022 years ago

Anybody who doesn’t agree with me is biased.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I agree Craig and God knows I’m not, in any way, biased.

bargarz
2022 years ago

All people who generalise are idiots.