Showing posts with label Australian journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian journalism. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beaten by Oprah and the elephant man

Dismayed by the lousy treatment of Julian Assange in the Australian press (a fleeting phenomenon, since the fascinating and sympathetic lord of Wikileaks has since become a well-represented and defended hero in our native land), I made a solemn resolution to cease reading The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. It was worse than trying to give up smoking (a problem I solved successfully a couple of decades ago). I realized unexpectedly that the Down Under press is a fabulous source of constant entertainment, like the on-stage acts of a delightfully vicious stand-up comedian… providing laughs, groans, frights and ample themes for reflection. Indeed, if the absurdities that enhance the Aussie media did not exist, one would have to invent them. They constitute a certain way of seeing the world around us… or maybe, rather, of not seeing that world. I imagine a curious pair of hi-tech sunglasses that provide their wearers with an Aussie view of existence.

These days, if you were to put on these magic spectacles, your vision would be crowded out by the broad body of a smiling Afro-American female named Oprah Winfrey (whose celebrity would appear to be largely quantitative, since she seems to have no qualitative claims to fame whatsoever... or else they're well concealed). If I understand correctly, this famous hulk of mediocrity is currently parading around in front of subjugated hordes of dumb Aussies on the site of Sydney's old tram depot, now replaced by an empty shell that will be referred to henceforth as the Oprah House. Why the hell is she there, and what's she supposed to be doing? I have no plausible answers to such questions… which maybe shouldn't even be asked. Oprah has simply been dumped there, on the edge of Sydney Harbour, for better or worse, like a load of transported convicts. God will decide what might become of her. Happily, she hasn't got a life sentence. So, with a bit of luck, she might fuck off sooner or later back to YankeeLand, and leave her mindless Aussie hosts to pick up the bill. Shit, I can't figure out what has come over my compatriots. At times—in their adulation of the pope, or their new saint Mary (not to mention their political agitations)—they seem to have gone stark raving lunatic, hysterical like a cut snake.

Fortunately, I'm reassured by the story of the elephant man in Thailand. The gist of the drama is that an Australian visitor in Bangkok refused to buy a bag of bananas for an elephant. Worse, this tourist from Down Under dared to express his thoughts about touristic attractions (in the same silly way that I just dared to talk about Oprah). The Aussie righter-of-wrongs claimed, as a social moralist, that the elephant's owner was using his beast as a pretext for begging.

Fair enough, the Thai elephant man was indeed begging for bananas. But what we don't know is whether the bananas in question were meant to be consumed by the beast (which would be normal) or by his owner (which would indeed imply a situation that might be likened to illegal gains from prostitution). Be that as it may, the Thai elephant owner hit the ugly tourist in the face, which shut him up just as surely as if an elephant had rammed a banana in the Aussie's mouth. I urge you to read the original article, entitled Aussie 'attacked' by Thai elephant guide [display].

In the presence of all this excellent stuff, I'm a little ashamed to think that I might have envisaged, for an instant, the abandon of such rich and delightful sources of fathomless and inconsequential authentic Aussie nonsense as The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bullshit overload syndrome

I'm a condemned man. Five minutes ago, I suddenly went down with a terrible affliction: a deadly virus that I picked up by browsing through an article in one of Australia's top-class daily newspapers.

I'm a victim of bullshit rage, known among specialists as BOS: the bullshit overload syndrome. Warning: Before reading any further, I advise you to put on a hygienic mask, protective goggles (I almost wrote "googles") and maybe rubber gloves (unless they prevent you from using your computer, which would be a pity).

Fortunately, I was able to identify the source of my infection. Believe it or not, I got it from a god, who is one of Australia’s best-known people-management thinkers. Just imagine it: thinking about managing people (as distinct from money, monkeys, computer memory, time, etc). Jeez, those must be exciting thoughts! I would imagine it's as good as sex, if not more invigorating, and dangerously daring. But identifying the guy (sorry, the god) who poisoned me with this virus is unlikely to be of much help, because I have the sensation that I'm already suffocating from the deadly fumes of Aussie bullshit. So, as a last resort, I intend to pray night and day to Adorable Mary, Saint of the Southern Cross. I'm sure she won't let me down… unless, of course, she's also a victim of BOS, as a consequence of all the recent bullshit surrounding her in the Aussie media.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Disappearing trick

As everybody knows [well, let's say, everybody with a good Catholic education], a strange event once took place on August 15. Mary took off skywards, literally, clothes and all, in what must be classified as the second case in world history of gravitational escape... not counting the flight of pterosaurs and phoenixes, and setting aside the hordes of angels and other heavenly creatures such as fairies, pixies, winged sprites and Irish leprechauns, goblins, hobgoblins, witches on magic broomsticks, etc. As everybody knows, prior to the so-called Assumption of Mary, there had been the equally spectacular Ascension of her son.

Compared with such happenings, the disappearing trick that occurred yesterday in the website of a high-quality Australian newspaper was a trivial stunt, but it's nevertheless interesting. Unless I happened to have been momentarily bewitched (which is not impossible, but rather unlikely), I claim to have witnessed with my own eyes a fascinating article, of a highly critical nature, on Australia's defense system. Now, this is an interesting topic that I've already mentioned in my blog:

Australia's submarines, 26 December 2007 [display]

Australian arithmetic, 2 January 2008 [display]

Expensive, aesthetic and nasty, 21 January 2008 [display]

I made a mental note of yesterday's article, saying to myself that it might be a good subject for a blog article... in spite of the fact that, these days, I no longer have much to say about my native land. Well, today, when I tried to find this article, I was surprised to discover that, overnight, it had completely disappeared into thin air, leaving no traces whatsoever.

In a neighboring domain, I have a trivial but significant Australian anecdote to relate. There's a web forum that gathers together Australian bloggers. A few weeks ago, I submitted a short calmly-written post concerning a question that has often interested me, particularly since my trip to Australia in 2006. Why does a supposedly prosperous nation such as Australia, with immense riches in the earth, continue to suffer from a relatively underdeveloped infrastructure (roads, railways, bridges, telecom, defense system, etc) ? I imagined that, since bloggers are supposed to be talkative and well-informed folk, I would get some worthwhile factual answers to my question. What I wanted to learn, in a nutshell, was the amount of tax from mineral sales that is actually invested in the Australian infrastructure. Alas, a forum moderator sent me a polite email to say that they were not prepared to publish my post.

Your discussion related to infrastructure comes very close to crossing the line relating to what is fair game on the Forums. We do not allow political discussions. I encourage you to steer readers to your blog if you wish to start a discussion in this area. I do not think that it would take long for any discussion along the lines that you have started to get political.

Will there be medals in Beijing for catching up with China in the time-honored game called censorship?

Monday, December 31, 2007

Gigantic news from Down Under

It's still 2007 here in France, whereas the new year is already an hour and a half old in my motherland. And the following dramatic story has already been transmitted across the planet on the Internet by Reuters, accompanied by an image:

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian newlyweds kissing on the backseat of their hire car were unaware their chauffeur was street drag racing, until a police siren broke their romantic bliss and ended the race. The chauffeur, clocked at up to 130 kph (80 mph) racing a young driver in a rental car, was fingerprinted on the side of the road and the hire car confiscated. "It's alleged that as the traffic light turned green both the (cars) accelerated harshly from the intersection and continued to travel at speed along the highway," police said in a statement. Both drivers were taken away by police, while newlyweds John and Laina Tauranga were escorted home in a police car.

Shit! Fuck me! Stone the crows! Can this really be true? Was this vehicle truly racing at 130 kph while the innocent newlyweds were kissing on the back seat? Thank God that the Australian police force is constantly vigilant, to detect frightening happenings of this kind, and to attenuate the consequences of such barbarian acts upon innocent victims. What a terrible atmosphere of drama in which the newlyweds John and Laina are going to start their married life. I hope they'll receive appropriate psychological counseling to recover from this ordeal. Unbelievable...

The new year, as I said, is less than a couple of hours old in my motherland, but I can sense already that dramatic Aussie stories are going to amaze me more and more throughout the coming months.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dear Janet Albrechtsen

This is the content of a letter I sent, dated 4 September 2007, to a well-known journalist, Janet Albrechtsen, at The Australian.

You wrote recently:

Who can forget how European intellectuals danced on the graves at ground zero? French philosopher Jean Baudrillard declared his "immense joy" when planes flew into the twin towers.

Your evocation of the great intellectual Baudrillard dancing on the graves at Ground Zero, and expressing his pleasure in the wake of the terrorist acts of September 11 is misleadng, indeed absurd, and stems surely from a misreading of what he actually said in his article entitled L'esprit du terrorisme, published in Le Monde, November 3, 2001. Here is a key passage in that article:

Tous les discours et les commentaires trahissent une gigantesque abréaction à l'événement même et à la fascination qu'il exerce. La condamnation morale, l'union sacrée contre le terrorisme sont à la mesure de la jubilation prodigieuse de voir détruire cette superpuissance mondiale, mieux, de la voir en quelque sorte se détruire elle-même, se suicider en beauté. Car c'est elle qui, de par son insupportable puissance, a fomenté toute cette violence infuse de par le monde, et donc cette imagination terroriste (sans le savoir) qui nous habite tous. Que nous ayons rêvé de cet événement, que tout le monde sans exception en ait rêvé, parce que nul ne peut ne pas rêver de la destruction de n'importe quelle puissance devenue à ce point hégémonique, cela est inacceptable pour la conscience morale occidentale, mais c'est pourtant un fait, et qui se mesure justement à la violence pathétique de tous les discours qui veulent l'effacer. À la limite, c'est eux qui l'ont fait, mais c'est nous qui l'avons voulu.

He is describing in subtle language a gigantic abreaction (psychological term designating the expression and consequent release of a repressed emotion) that could be detected in many comments surrounding the tragic events of September 11. I would paraphrase Baudrillard's wordy analysis by the following trite statements:

— For many observers throughout the world, the USA had become too big (hegemonic).

— Many people said to themselves: The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

— These same people hoped (unknowingly) that the big fellow might one day bite the dust.

To express the latter sentiment, Baudrillard evoked « cette imagination terroriste (sans le savoir) qui nous habite tous ».

Throughout that article [which did in fact raise many eyebrows in France because, as in all psychological demonstrations, the reasoning was subtle], Baudrillard was attempting to analyze a recent planetary event in an objective clinical fashion. He was never standing on a political pedestal and voicing vulgarly his own personal opinions. And to suggest that this humanist was immensely happy to witness the Twin Towers terrorism is not only wrong; it's ignoble.

The mindless intervention of Bush in Iraq — condemned globally, since the start, by French intellectuals, politicians and ordinary people — has introduced us to the daily phenomenon of murder and torture. If you're seeking examples of individuals capable of dancing on the graves of innocent victims, you'll find lots of them in the universe created by Bush. But Jean Baudrillard was not that kind of a person.