Bolt belatedly bangs on bout Bastard Boys bias.

Well bugger me. If Andrew Bolt in todays Herald Sun isnt having a good old whinge about the blatant bias of the recent ABC series Bastard Boys. Whod a thought it hey?

The bias unveiled by Mr. Bolt includes inadequate mentions of the nick, inadequate representation of bludging, rorting, taking bribes, nicking off or lugging a pay packet fat enough to choke a teacher, too little union violence and not identifying those making threatening phone calls.

The way Peter Reith and Chris Corrigan are depicted is further evidence of bias, but perhaps most sinister evidence of bias, is in the timing

And why did the ABC screen this drama about the bastard workplace reforms of this bastard Government smack in an election year?

None of Mr. Bolts objections are any surprise, but what is surprising is why Mr. Bolt waited until today to stick the boot in. Why wait until after the show? Surely Mr. Bolt has the wit to put the boot in before the show has even screened. Is Mr. Bolt losing his touch? Michael Duffy in the Fairfax press was capable of writing a piece about the show’s bias more than a day before it even screened. Mr. Duffy apparently could detect the bias from the trailers, review articles and even the title itself. Why couldnt Mr. Bolt do this?

More deeply worrying even than that, is Mr. Bolts sheer negligence. He lets an opportunity go begging. He asks his shocked Herald Sun readership this vital question:

Why did its Film Finance Corporation pay most of the $6.2 million it took to film a drama about a strike told almost exclusively from the point of view of unionists and their lawyers?

But then leaves it hanging. No follow up. Nothing.

In Mr. Bolts glorious past he was able top catch the whiff of lefty largesse in the granting of Arts Council Funds. He forced the government to implement Bolt approved quality control to the fund distribution process, and ultimately ensured that trusty mate P. P. McGuinness was installed as chief rort-rooter-outerer. But where, we are obliged to ask, is the Bolt-action on the Film Finance Corporation?

Is the job of denialist-in-cheif, and Iraq-War-master-booster sapping Mr. Bolts energy in these difficult times? Are Mr. Bolts plaintive cries, that the right is losing the Culture War, being ignored by too many people?

Perhaps its too early to say, but Mr. Bolt needs to be careful, cause theres no sympathy in this world for a loser. I for one will be watching Insiders with great interest this Sunday. Any sign of a quivering lip and its all over red rover. Andrew Bolt will be marked forever as being on his way to becoming Malcolm Fraser.

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JC
JC
14 years ago

Rex

He is right, despite your protestations. The movie was a decently made but slanted piece of TV. It was well acted and well written. However it was also very biased which where the problem is.

a very good portion of the public would think it was biased. We’re all paying for it through tax money.

The best way round this is to simply privatize the ABC and let them get on with all the bias they want to offer their viewers. I’m sure they would do well in the private market. Hell they could even do better if they were allowed to without poltical hindrance.

Guise
Guise
14 years ago

Sigh. I don’t know why Mr Bolt even bothers to write his columns any more. There’s no need to actually read them. The papers could just pick a topic, compose a headline, and publish a blank column under Andrew’s picture. Those who agree with him will still agree with him; those who don’t are similarly unlikely to change their positions. We aall know what he’s going to say, so why go to all the effort of writing it?

Only one comment of substance, though: “smack in an election year”? Really? The election was called, was it? OK, I suppose once the ABC is roundly convicted on yet another charge of overweening bias, the triumphal return of the Howard Governmment will put an end to this kind of waste of public funds (freeing them up for more interesting kinds of waste), and the ABC will be able to use its new wealth of advertising revenues to show programmes which better reflect the real values of modern Australia. Something like 24. Heavens, it might even get a bigger audience share on the ABC …

observa
observa
14 years ago

It tried hard to hang on to a veneer of evenhandedness, but the undergrad Howard joke in the courtroom, among others was the slip really showing. Kelty’s wig almost rescued it from being the Combet puff piece that it was.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Heh! Andrew Bolt thunders:

Why did its Film Finance Corporation pay most of the $6.2 million it took to film a drama about a strike told almost exclusively from the point of view of unionists and their lawyers?

You gottta hand it to ol’ Bolty. Nothing gets past him. While we were all watching a film about a lock-out, dear old Andrew watched another one that apparently had the same name but was all about a strike!

Coming up from Andrew “fact-checker” Bolt: a review of Gallipoli, in which the diggers win; Ghandi, the Ultimate Aggressor; 2001: A Space Oddyssey on Planet Earth; Cleopatra, without the nose.

Captain Wacky
Captain Wacky
14 years ago

Rex, Michael Duffy had obviously seen the show at the time he wrote his piece. This is not a violation of the laws of physics – pre-release copies of television programs are routinely made available to the media for publicity purposes, as any idiot can tell you. Other than that, your post does not contain a single point worth making. I thought Club Troppo was supposed to be better than this.

Guido
14 years ago

No, it’s not the workers. It’s in fact the kind of union officials and preachy lawyers who now dominate Labor, and seem certain

(what?)

to take over government this year.

He can’t help himself can’t he.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

I thought it was clearly biased towards the warfies. I didn’t mind that particularly because I don’t really care about bias if I’m getting something worthwhile as we were with this production. But the fact that its picture of Chris Corrigan wasn’t completely black, and that it pointed out (pretty sotto voce) that the warfies were defending rorts doesn’t make it unbiased. It was clearly more sympathetic to one side than the other and that side’s participants were humanised to a much greater extent.

observa
observa
14 years ago

Overall it wasn’t too bad but the wife of sensitive, snaggy Kris Kristofferson union type in the horse trailer, crapping on about him ‘floating through his fear’ or some such, was really middle class twaddle. Then she looked at him and his thick neck and stern shoulders on the microphone taking charge and fair swooned like some Jane Austen heroine at the macho-ness of it all. Fair dinkum!

patrickg
14 years ago

I find complaints about bias in stuff like this hard to get my head around sometimes.

I know it’s a specious comparison, but if someone made a film about apartheid, would Bolt etc. be complaining about the lefty bias?

What about the war in Iraq, and its horrible toll on civilians and Coalition soldiers? Would they complain that it’s all bad news and bias once again? (though in fact, that’s not a hypothetical, it has happened, repeatedly in various mediums)

Whilst the show did come down pretty squarely on the unionists’ side in terms of sympathy, I really didn’t feel it was particularly controversial, if that makes sense. I mean, that’s what happened, right? Factually it was okay, at least to my (admittedly limited) knowledge.

observa
observa
14 years ago

If they ran it May last year or May next year patrickg, it probably wouldn’t rate a mention, but in an election year with a change in the air….?

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

I tend to agree Nicholas. It clearly emphasised the wharfies point of view, but did not demonise Corrigan. In fact, for mine, Corrigan was the most enjoyable character by far. In the past I’d vewed him as the ‘rapacious capitalist’ as described by the Combet character, but after viewing this he came across as an impressive tough fighter looking after his interests. Nothing wrong with that.

What is amusing however, is the neo-jerk reaction of Bolt and Co. Their tedious harping on the same theme over and over, has now gone past the point, I think where people take their opinion seriously anymore.

Please Mr. Bolt – Keep it up.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Partick – what you say does make sense to me, but bias is bias and is on that account offensive to those with a different perspective. On the question of ‘truth’ is it really true that most of these warfies had as much working class integrity as we were led to believe. Well we don’t know do we. But they were defending rorts – rorts that had been built up with a mixture of genuine working class sentiment that had integrity and strong-arm tactics and sentiment that didn’t.

So – and I only saw the second show (but I gather the first was more ‘biased’) – the sotto voce mentions of the rorts wasn’t enough to undo the bias it seems to me. In this sense I don’t think the analogy with apartied really holds, because I would argue that a reasonable presentation of that drama might show reasonable people caught in a dilemma on the part of apartied, but what they were defending was a pretty corrupting thing to defend. I think that’s much less so of those trying to smash the warfies union.

In summary (if this makes sense) I think bias is only of use as a critical category if it’s trying to refer to some ‘reasonable’ spectrum of opinion. That spectrum should contain those who wanted to achieve what Chris Corrigan wanted to achieve.

Philly
Philly
14 years ago

What job, ever, hasn’t involved “rorting”? And the greater the productivity, the less significant usually and the more excusable, nay warranted, are the rorts.

The language and jokes, the imprudent, hyperbolic, “foul-mouthed”, sarcastic, ironic, sentimental, remarks of the wharfies and their supporters, wives, girlfriends, lawyers, ALL rang true. The writers got it. To a tee.

Viewers were, in the main, I reckon, engrossed by this drama because, firstly, it is an amazing story and, secondly, it was rivetingly and authentically told. Such people in such circumstances do talk like this. I know because I’ve been there. The pool table thing, e.g. A common riff in probably a zillion workplaces which doesn’t signify corruption. True, you wouldn’t understand if you had never been there. This is important to understand. You do not understand, right? And as for the swearing. Hello. Where do you live? Who do you know? And what do you think important?

Lastly, it must be noted. This drama could never have been told so movingly, so compellingly, so satisfyingly, by a man.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Thanks for that Philly – we love bigotry on this site so I especially appreciate the comment that the program couldn’t have been made by a man. Men really are dumb aren’t they? Insensitive too. Bastards really.

Who got your back up about the swearing in the show? I can’t see it mentioned but maybe I’ve missed it somewhere.

Philly
Philly
14 years ago

Sorry Nicholas, you are right, no man on this blog sighed about the swearing. I’ve been following the links discussing Bastard Boys from one male-dominated blog to another. The swearing was protested on Catallaxy and/or LP and I thought that really funny-weird-pathetic. I don’t distinguish much between any of the aforementioned blogs, since the voices on each are similar, if not identical, and not just my impression.

It is not that men are bastards, dumb or insensitive, Nicholas, though to mindlessly and regurgitate such tired defensive cliches indicates that at least some men arguably indeed so.

No, Nick, it is more the fact that women’s lives, nurturing experiences, daily emotional truthfulness, intuition and awareness, means that many more of us can write such stories in a way that probably most actually existing men can not.

JC
JC
14 years ago

Really Philly.

I guess there were lots of gals workng on the docks to help tell a nurturing story the way it should be told.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Philly is right. Viewers like JC will not like wharfies ever; let alone them being treated sympathetically on television. It’s a militant class conscious stance, expected from financial traders who have a fetish for Austrian economists and enjoy rorts that give them lots of time on their hands to blog.

But for anyone in the real world to object to a script about wharfies that has wharfies swearing like wharfies is, well, um, it’s actually hard to think of something dumber. Perhaps an objection to a religious movie that has the pope being portrayed as pius? To a nature film that has bears shitting in the woods?

More broadly, Philly makes an excellent and hitherto unmentioned point. Sue wrote the script based on a book by Helen and Anne, and this is not to forget that Pamela Williams easily did the best reporting on the event as it occurred. Thus we have an archetypal manly domain that was largely brought to the public by women. This is an interesting fact, worthy of more than defensive sarcasm.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Yes CS, worrying about warfies being depicted as swearing is very strange. Do you think perhaps Philly was generalising a tad – err – there wasn’t anyone here who mentioned swearing till she did.

And the involvement of women in writing the book and the screenplay is OK as an interesting point as you say. On that point I think the women’s roles were rather cliched! I actually think that what made the production so good was the acting. The script was good, but not great (nothing like as good as some of the episodes of the same author’s Brides of Christ I think) and rather cliched in the way that it involved the women in ‘family scenes’.

What do you think of Philly’s comment that “This drama could never have been told so movingly, so compellingly, so satisfyingly, by a man.”?

Do you think that “womens lives, nurturing experiences, daily emotional truthfulness, intuition and awareness, means that many more of us can write such stories in a way that probably most actually existing men can not.”?

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
14 years ago

“a religious movie that has the pope being portrayed as pius”

A deliberate pun? Homer where are you?

david tiley
14 years ago

I don’t want to go very far with this, but it was a pretty patriarchal show. It is a very masculine story, in which all the dominant players are men, and all the tenderness is mediated through its effects on men.

I wish this sort of energy had been put into a series on Tampa, or SIEV 4.

There is a reading of this project which suggests that a bunch of thieving, skiving wharfies are allowed to misuse the romantic aura of the Union movement to defend stupid and parasitic behaviour. The rorting meme is allowed to stand, is admitted by the Combet character, and is never contextualised.

Corrigan has said since that the series did not explain how this damaged the wider Australian public; I imagine waterfront experts would point out that the inefficiencies on the wharfs had many more causes than overmanning and skiving to get overtime.

This thing about balance cuts both ways – both sides can claim that their case is under represented and therefore distorted.

cs
cs
14 years ago

What do you think of Phillys comment that This drama could never have been told so movingly, so compellingly, so satisfyingly, by a man.?

I’m not sure about that. Bears thinking. I doubt that I could write it anything like that. I tend to cringe when I’m writing anything that’s pure fiction, but then again, I’m not exactly Patrick White. Would a bloke be as likely to concoct a weak sort of guy as the young guy, before he stood up? Would a bloke have been as likely to have identified alcohol with weakness? Would a bloke have been as likely to include all the family context, even if you found it predictable (familiar?)? For mine, I would have ditched the young guy for the more courtroom, but that’s probably just me again.

Overall, I suspect a degree of media casting has occurred here. Women were disproportionately tasked on the waterfront story by the mainstream media, to balance the blokes on the job, from a viewer perspective. The Today Show syndrome. The upshot is that women naturally accumulated the records and have thus done most of the follow-up. What will be the effect of this gender inflection be on the way the story is lodged in the public memory? That takes us back to the start. I’m not sure about that. Bears thinking.

cs
cs
14 years ago

And it’s wharfies Nicholas, wharfies, for god’s sake, not warfies. Where did you say you lived?

david tiley
14 years ago

The trouble with that theory is that it only works statistically. You could say that more women write chick lit than men, and more men write slasher fiction than women.

But human abilities in the individual don’t line up along gender lines, except very crudely.

JC
JC
14 years ago

“Philly is right. Viewers like JC will not like wharfies ever; let alone them being treated sympathetically on television.

That’s nonsense CS. What I don’t like is myth-making on our dime. That union and a lot of its members were thugs. I know enough of the story to say that Chris ought to be treated as both a victim of this thuggery and a hero for taking them on. They picked on the wrong guy when the local shop steward thought it was ok to walk into Chris’ office unnounced and start swearing and threatening him with strike action if the big baby didn’t have his way. It wasn’t negotiation, it was intimidation all the way. Pity the nurturing writer never put that into the script.

—————————

“Its a militant class conscious stance, expected from financial traders who have a fetish for Austrian economists and enjoy rorts that give them lots of time on their hands to blog.”

CS, I would be the last person to have a class conscience. I’m a wog for christ’s sake, so i was tha bottom of the pile in all sorts of ways when growing up. I have never forgotten my roots and have never walked away from them either.

As for having a fetish for Austrian economists….. That’s a good point. There are an unusually large number of traders who support the Austrian free market school. This is possibly due to the fact that they work in markets all day and see that the actually do function well unless messed up by the best of intentions.

As for having lot’s of time. Well I do and I don’t. My work requires I spend time watching market action which some of the time means I have little to do.

People shouldn’t get their heroes in reverse. Chris C is a revolutionary in lot’s of ways. When he was CEO of Banker Trust he broke the cozy cartel that existed in the stock market with fixed price commisions and thereby ensured that the blue bloods couldn’t run a monopoly on stock brokerage.

Regular mums and pops have profited enormously from this by the fact that they can buy and sell stocks at greatly reduced commissions. In other words he helped open up the stock market to regular people at greatly reduced cost.

He also opened up the docks so that stuff we buy and sell is cheaper as a result of not having to pay the vig to the blue collar “blue bloods” living on a spoils system. That is what the movie should have been about.

Chris Corrigan is the hero and that’s what the movie should have told.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Wharfies – how’s that? And I live in Port Melbourne and therefore should be ashamed of myself. I duly am – but I really am not a great speller.

Back to the action. What do you think of Philly’s other observation – womens lives, nurturing experiences, daily emotional truthfulness, intuition and awareness, means that many more of us can write such stories in a way that probably most actually existing men can not.?

Pavlov's Cat
14 years ago

What do you think of Phillys other observation – womens lives, nurturing experiences, daily emotional truthfulness, intuition and awareness, means that many more of us can write such stories in a way that probably most actually existing men can not.?

I think she (she? Surely) probably can’t ever have seen Changi, another show featuring the wonderful Geoff Morell, and written by the equally wonderful John Doyle: moving, compelling, satisfying, intuitive, aware and emotionally truthful.

(That said, I am also a great fan of Sue Smith.)

Amanda
14 years ago

Bears thinking.

No it doesn’t. It’s bullshit from beginning to end.

womens lives, nurturing experiences, daily emotional truthfulness, intuition and awareness, means that many more of us can write such stories in a way that probably most actually existing men can not.

Gag me with a spoon.

Amanda
14 years ago

Oh OK, the third paragraph cs wrote about the media probably bears thinking. But the answers to the questions in his second par are all ‘yes’, they are all familiar themes/arcs/ciphers we have seen a million times and most of those times what you were watching was written by men. And so what? So not much, as David says.

Darlene
14 years ago

“Lastly, it must be noted. This drama could never have been told so movingly, so compellingly, so satisfyingly, by a man.”

Ewww, excuse my swearing, but bullshit. It does women no favours to suggest we’re somehow more insightful or some other, errr, crap.

As the load of posts about this show on blogs, I would suggest that the blogosphere is dominated by middle-class blokes.

As for this comment:

“Chris Corrigan is the hero and thats what the movie should have told.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha etc.

Darlene
14 years ago

As for the load of posts about this show on blogs, I would suggest that the blogosphere is dominated by middle-class blokes.

As for the other comment, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

I would suggest that the blogosphere is dominated by middle-class blokes.

I don’t know about the rest of them, but these days I rather fancy myself as a ‘Battler’.

cs
cs
14 years ago

As for having lots of time. Well I do and I dont. My work requires I spend time watching market action which some of the time means I have little to do.

Beautiful. Same thing has always been a feature of the docks, because of shipping timetables/weather and different tasks being required at different loading/unloading stages. In Reith-speak, that’s called a rort JC and you should stop doing the nick to the ‘sphere. I forgot that Corrigan was a former trader! Another bludger – as well as a thug with dogs!

I’m imagining a scenario where the incomes of traders and their hours and working conditions are put on the front pages of the newspapers and all over the television for a month, exagerated to buggery and debated by the whole nation, as if everyone was a know-all. No doubt JC and Corrigan would welcome every man, woman and Uncle Tom Cobbly pontificating in public about their earnings, hours and working conditions and calling them bludgers day in day out.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Thanks Amanda,

I was actually thiking, ‘where is Amanda when I need her?’. But I thought it a bit presumptuous to presume your agreement out loud. But here you are speaking truth to twaddle – again!

I must say, I wonder if Philly is a man trying to wind us up.

Guido
14 years ago

Piers say that the ABC are the real bastards.

[LINK]

Miles
Miles
14 years ago

Leunig would be another example of an insightful, emotionally honest male writer working in Australia today. And I agree about Doyle and Changi.

Still, I can’t help agreeing that the emphasis of this drama on the main male protagonists’ domestic lives and relationships and, even more so, their feelings of fear, rage, loss, community, inadequacy, competitiveness, love, etc., bears the unmistakable hallmarks of the feminine sensibilities that we do know for a fact were literally responsible for BB’s content, tone and production.

And as for the red herring of “bias”. Of course, it was biased, biased towards truth telling. The latter being a novel concept for many, admittedly.

JC
JC
14 years ago

Turn it off, CS. I work for moi so i can do what i like. Traders dont’have unions last time i looked.

rossco
rossco
14 years ago

The issue of swearing, especially the f-word, has been big on talk back radio and letters to the papers even if it wasn’t initially raised on this blog. I even heard one person on the radio complain that this sort of language wasn’t appropriate for a family show. It wasn’t meant to be a family show, it was meant as raw drama and on that basis I loved it. It was the best thing I have seen on TV in a long time.

As for accuracy, you always get this type of debate when a “true” story ie something which actually happened is recreated as a drama. I recall last year the same sort of issues being raised about “Munich”. Did it really happen that way? Probably not but it tells a gripping story based on real events. If some people think a different story story should be told, let them make their own film.
Corrigan for example could certainly afford to fund his own story.

There doesn’t seem to have been any public comment from Peter Reith on how he was portrayed. Does this mean it was accurate? As this was a drama, not a documentary, I would have loved to have seen the story conclude with Reith resigning over the conspiracy charges, if not actually prosecuted!

observa
observa
14 years ago

I guess the true test of bias with the ABC is trying to imagine Aunty making a doco, film or series where the left are moved enough to ring up or blog to complain about the inherent bias of any such show. As for one of the ABC’s inner circle chucking in their journo job to stand for Family First, the Libs or Nats, we couldn’t honestly imagine that either. Hence Bastard Boys is more of the usual fare from the public trough, albeit with some good acting, scripting, etc.

Oh dear cs. There’s a heap of difference between a customer of JCs firm paying for whatever level of productivity they sell in a competitive marketplace and being forced to pay whatever collusive price the MUA force on them to ship some goods. You must explain to us sometime why its morally wrong for a group of self employed tradesmen to collude on price, but not PAYG ones. Would you be happy if the likes of Corrigan and Co (big shipping magnates) actively colluded on price and shared that largesse among MUA members as well? When you’ve finished with that, you might then explain to us why we can’t all join one big Australian union and strike to get us all a hefty pay rise and/or slacker conditions of employment.

JC
JC
14 years ago

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21743662-7583,00.html

Chris Corrigan responds and tells us what the real story should have been.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Hey JC, want to buy a good harbour bridge? Perhaps a town hall clock?

david tiley
14 years ago

Obs – they just ran a two part doco series on our wretched Alexander Downer. In, I do believe, an election year. And about contemporary events.

Character study of a private citizen, do you think?

JC
JC
14 years ago

Sure CS at the right price and as long as Macquarie Bank isn’t involved in the sale.

Now tell us, what exactly did you find wrong with Chris C’s comments.

Bullet points is ok.

cs
cs
14 years ago

I guess you could describe it as a stereotypical puff piece by an employer on the nick in Europe, concocted as part of the conspiracy within New Limited to give Howard a leg up on IR in an election year, if you were to explain what was wrong with it, which I wouldn’t do. Unlike traders and employers, I don’t enjoy enough rorts to rabbit on all day on the blogosphere.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

That’s a great article by Corrigan. I think he’s a bit oversensitive about his own portrayal and too quick to spot a conspiracy by the ABC – always suspect a culture ahead of a conspiracy. But he gives an excellent account of himself.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

And I really can’t see how Corrigan’s article could possibly have been written by a woman ;)

JC
JC
14 years ago

CS, not for nothing but a uni lecturer shouldn’t be others a hard time about having lots of time on their hands. Pots and kettles come to mind.

skepticlawyer
14 years ago

Nick: Without dragging the Catallaxy thread over here, that both Corrigan and Coombs felt there was so much wrong with it, and that both have been very measured in their response is interesting. This is particularly so in light of the fact that they become friends after the whole business was over.

I’m sticking by my initial assessment as to its quality – I found Bastard Boys excellent drama, but it’s best considered fiction that happens to use real people’s names.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
14 years ago

Umm I don’t see what the fuss is about. I’ve never accepted the term ‘docudrama’. If it involves a bunch of people acting out something that allegedly happened, it’s still and always will be fiction. It’s fictionalised recreation of events. If it’s a voice over with interviews with real people from the events or experts on interpreting the events, it’s a documentary. Nothing in between.

cs
cs
14 years ago

As I said in my review, “I doubt that the show will alter the entrenched positions of the combatants and their respective supporters, which have barely moved a jot in the nine years since the conflict itself.” All the present arguments are the same as those that went around at the time.

The only change that appears to have occurred in the nine years is that Corrigan has shifted from his initial position of not co-operating in helping to tell the story. Initially, he just wanted the whole thing to go away, refusing Trinca and Davies interviews, forcing them to pulp their first version and telling anyone who asked that the waterfront had ‘moved on’. His co-operation with Sue Smith signalled an acceptance that the event has become legitimised as a part of Australian history, and that he might as well get in his two bob’s worth, a decision he now seems to have regretted.

All this needs to be taken with a truckload of salt. Participants are almost invariably dissappointed in how they are represented in historical accounts, since these rarely match their own preferred self-images. Their special pleading is for that reason be definition at a heavy discount. Whether it is Corrigan, Coombs or whoever, participant interpretations after the event are inherently suspect – cetainly they are in no position to be arbiters of ‘fairness’.

The conventional move for someone in Corrigan’s position is to stand aside from the debate; or if he really believes that he is right, to produce his own account with the supporting evidence, something, as noted, he has steadfastly refused to do – preferring instead to either be unco-operative or cherry-pick holes in everyone other attempt to do so. Unedifying is a kind description.

david tiley
14 years ago

Corrigan does leave out a few things. The consistent portrayal of him as a man afraid for himself and his family – used for comic effect but funny only because Corrigan is depicted as a man with a mordant sense of humour. And there is the scene where his wife vomits after the phone call.

All clear indications of industrial thuggery etc, and designed to make us like him and dislike the union movement.

Don’t forget that we know early on that the unions rort the business and think it’s funny. That the father-son combo is dumb and violent, though they develop some self-control later.

We see that the union loses half its workforce = Corrigan is right in his analysis.

It is true that this is a dynamic and not a static show – that we move back and forth around points of view, and we do move from the unions through to Corrigan. The last part is called “Chris’s War”. You can’t just amass evidence for brownie points on either side – the series is funcioning a bit like an argument on some level. The point of view of the whole thing swings around from the union to Corrigan. With the strange sentimental factoid at the end about enemies eating together.

Corrigan doesn’t like being depicted as tight and unphysical, but I bet that is a fair observation.

Here’s a question: if this was not an election year, if the ALP was not a serious contender, and Corrigan was now in Parliament with a push for him to knock off Howard.. would we think the series helps or hinders his chances?