Category Archives: satire
Dear Senator Minchin
I am a great admirer of your principled positions on issues like the monarchy and above all on so-called global warming. That you are sticking it up that socialist glove puppet Malcolm Turnbull fills me with joy!
I treasure your sage words on Four Corners earlier this month:
I frankly strongly object to you know, politicians and others trying to terrify 12 year old girls that their planet’s about to melt, you know. I mean really it is appalling some of that that sort of behaviour…
For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion…
I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so…
Such wit! Such god-like wisdom! No sir, I am not sucking up. It’s my true if humble opinion.
Therefore I feel bound, in case you have missed it, to draw your attention to some rats in the ranks, people we once thought were good sound conservatives who have been white-anted and brainwashed by the Global Warming Lobby. I am not sure which is more shocking, though I suppose one should never trust a Frenchman. And those Kiwis are little better, even if John Key is partly on message with us. But then even if they now have, as of this week, “Moderated Emissions Trading” it’s still emissions trading, isn’t it? Weak bastards! How much can a sheep’s fart be worth, I wonder?
But I digress.
What must appal us staunch supporters of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is that she now seems to have been seduced! Can you believe it? Of course she is over 80, but I ask you!
And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more. The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come. Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable, and many of the people least well able to withstand the adverse effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.
Really, you just don’t know who to trust any more, do you?
Exposed! Secret Agent of World Socialism and so-called Environmentalism!
I wouldn’t trust that Joe Hockey if I were you either, just between you and me. He has shown himself to be unsound before today on the issues that concern all right-thinking conservatives. (Can we change the name of our party please? Why “Liberal” for heaven’s sake?) On Hockey I rather wish I had written Joe Hockey reveals climate ignorance which, however, does come from one of the few reliable sources in these dark days when even the House of Windsor has strayed into error.
A Secret Admirer
A couple of years back my former Sydney University boss Ken Watson recommended Jasper Fforde to me.
Now at last I have read one of his amazing books, The Well of Lost Plots.
Imagine Little Britain meets the Cambridge Companion to English Literature + literary theory. Hilarious. The Wuthering Heights anger management day is just one gem of many.
The Tracker (Rolf De Heer 2002)
This truly magnificent movie — so resonant, so beautifully made and acted — came out when Australia was lost in Howard’s Great Stony Desert. As Margaret Pomerantz said at the time:
The film opens with a painted landscape – and this is signficant because paintings by Adelaide artist Peter Coad are integrated into the action of the film to historify events and to move the violence from realistic representation. Into this landscape come four men – four archetypal characters. They are the Fanatic, Gary Sweet, a government trooper who is heading an expedition to find an Aboriginal man accused of murdering a white woman. Others in the expedition are the Follower, Damon Gameau, a greenhorn trooper, the Veteran, Grant Page and the Tracker, David Gulpilil. Like a tapestry unfolding the film charts the attitudes, the shifts and balances of power within the group as if it were the history of white settlement here. Along the way are confronting scenes of violence. But at the heart of every scene is the Tracker. Graham Tardif composed and Archie Roach sings on the soundtrack and it was one of the most emotional film experiences of my life to see The Tracker with Roach performing live at the opening of the Adelaide Festival. De Heer’s use of Coad’s paintings adds an uncanny power to the film, strangely making the violence more meaningful, more tragic, taking away any notion that’s it’s only a movie. David Gulpilil brings important heart to the film. De Heer’s screenplay and direction has extraordinary compassion despite the violence. It’s actually a film that’s important not to miss.
It still is important not to miss. For more reviews and a synopsis see Rolf De Heer’s The Tracker.
Alexander McCall Smith, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (Edinburgh, Polygon 2008)
This is the sixth in the 44 Scotland Street series; I reviewed the fifth here. Again I was delighted. What was true of the fifth is true of the sixth:
The thrust is gently conservative, with a folk wisdom that has much to commend it. I see that captured in a quotation I planned to use myself, but fortunately Kerryn Goldsworthy has used it in a review in the Sydney Morning Herald, thus saving me some typing:
For the most part, we treat others in a matter-of-fact way; we have to, in order to get on with our lives. But every so often, in a moment of insight that can be very nearly mystical in its intensity, we see others in their real humanity, in a way that makes us want to cherish them as joint pilgrims, almost, on a perilous journey.
Po-faced indeed would be any reader who is not drawn in and delighted, even if at the expense of an odd cringe or two — the latter probably being therapeutic.
One issue that runs through the novel is the discomfort some (perhaps many) Scots experience about social change, particularly relating to immigration, though it would be silly to accuse McCall Smith of racism. I can understand the discomfort, as Scotland has been until recently an exporter rather than an importer of migrants: I am part Scot myself! Even if quite a lot of what passes for Scottish tradition was invented by or after Sir Walter Scott in the early 19th century, I do sympathise with the sense of loss. At the same time McCall Smith skewers ultra-romanticism with his very funny Pretender travelling across Scotland in a motorcycle sidecar attempting to replicate the saga of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
A lovely book, with much wisdom to offer.
Dante’s Cove 2 (2007 DVD)
I watched just 15 minutes of this heap of crap. If one was drunk or drugged and with friends it may work. Fortunately my copy was free, thanks to Surry Hills Library.
Julian Halls, The Museum, Hobart, Knocklofty Press 2008.
This gets two rather dismissive lines on SameSame.com.
Halls’s strength as a comic author lies in his sharp, crisp and snappy lines. Unfortunately, the novel sounds like a guidebook in places, and a boring one at that. This probably explains why the Tasmanian government gave the project its support.
I agree about the “sharp, crisp and snappy lines” but was certainly not bored. In fact I found the novel hilarious.
It is indeed “old-fashioned”, as the publisher says.
This is a most unfashionable book: it’s funny, it’s well written and constructed — and it has a happy ending.
It’s that rarest of things in an increasingly sad and troubled world: a comic novel, a genre which has almost disappeared under the weight of political correctness, post-modernist claptrap and the self-regarding seriousness of far too many authors.
Julian Halls has created an unlikely assortment of oddball characters — and they’re all people we’ve met or close to it — and placed them in and around a mouldering, half-forgotten regional museum in Tasmania.
The complex main plot concerns the relationships between two same-sex couples, one male, one female, and the whole thing is set in motion by a blowfly; it gets even more bizarre after that, although it’s never incredible—just like real life. Several curious sub-plots emerge and they are skillfully woven into a surprising conclusion…
The museum itself reminded me of the Australian Museum in Sydney in the 1950s, even down to the enormous whale skeleton in the entrance hall. Its sudden descent begins the series of crazy events. You can tell Halls cut his teeth in theatre – the novel is nothing if not a farce, but a pungent one.
The artist Benjamin Duterrau (1767-1851) is an important element in the plot.
Duterrau, “The Conciliation” 1840. Click on pic for more.
I liked this book.
J G Ballard, Millennium People, London, Flamingo 2003
Ballard’s Empire of the Sun is one of my favourite books, and the 1987-8 Spielberg movie of it one of my favourite movies. Millennium People is a dark comedy whose targets include the romanticism of revolution, the mindless violence of events such as 9/11, and the sacred cows of the middle class on England – though there may well be a degree of endorsement of the latter.
One could also add, with this very perceptive profile in a source I don’t often agree with, that another target is the reader who, given Ballard’s profile, is probably in that same middle class. Joane McNeill writes:
In Ballard’s slapstick satire Millennium People (2003), the bourgeois residents of a gated community commit terrorist acts. They riot, clash with police, and bomb upper-middle-class establishments such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria and Albert Museum. What are they protesting? “Double yellow lines, school fees, maintenance charges…cheap holidays, over-priced housing, educations that no longer buy security.” They are rebelling against, in one character’s words, “the barriers set out by the system. Try getting drunk at a school speech day, or making a mildly racist joke at a charity dinner. Try letting your garden grow and not painting your house for a few weeks.”
Like most of Ballard’s fiction from the last 20 years, Millennium People uses the framework of a middlebrow English novel as a way to parody the reader. For Ballard, as he explained to Salon in 1997, the novel is “the greatest enemy of truth and honesty that was ever invented. It’s a vast, sentimentalizing structure that reassures the reader and at every point offers the comfort of secure moral frameworks and recognizable characters. This whole notion was advanced by Mary McCarthy and many others years ago, that the main function of the novel was to carry out a kind of moral criticism of life. But the writer has no business making moral judgments or trying to set himself up as a one-man or one-woman magistrate’s court. I think it’s far better, as Burroughs did and I’ve tried to do in my small way, to tell the truth.”
I have his last book, Miracles of Life (2008), in line for reading. Millennium People joins my 2009 top reads.
I have often enjoyed DeusExMacintosh on Skeptic Lawyer, but today’s entry is a corker!
The image is linked to the original.
According to the Encarta Dictionary, a classic is:
1. work of highest quality: something created or made, especially a work of art, music, or literature, that is generally considered to be of the highest quality and of enduring value
The novel has become a 20th-century classic.
a design classic
So I begin by noting I have been reading Jane Eyre again lately. Most would call that a classic.
Stretching the term to blogs, I would regard Stuff White People Like as a classic of its kind on the grounds of quality of writing, intelligence and satirical edge – the latter because of rather than despite its surgical skill on quite a few attitudes I myself uphold. It seems the author not only holds up a mirror in which I sometimes see myself; he is skewered too, and knows it. But mirrors can be good. There is nothing mean about this satirical blog, however; it is genuinely amusing. I have been following it for some time and it is in my Google Reader collection. That items now appear less frequently is a mark of the author’s success. Not bad for a WordPress.com blog, eh!
The author, Christian Lander, is in Sydney at the moment. See There’s a lot to like if you’re a middle-class leftie.
CHRISTIAN Lander is living an internet-age fairytale. In January last year, the 30-year-old PhD dropout was working as an advertising copywriter in Los Angeles. He started a blog, Stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, to amuse a couple of friends. In March, with up to 1 million people a day visiting the site, he scored a book deal and by July Stuff White People Like was on The New York Times best-sellers list. He’s in Sydney on his third book tour, while a sitcom based on the idea is in development.
"Six months from idea to best-seller," he says. "2008 was a pretty awesome year."
Lander’s blog skewers the sacred cows of white, leftist, middle-class culture. Lander’s own culture, that is.
"Truth is such a huge part of good comedy," he says. "I write from this Lonely Planet type distance, but realistically I’m just trashing myself over and over again. I wrote an entry which was Knowing What’s Best For Poor People. It was the worst indictment of me because I really believed it."…
Have fun going through his back entries.
Also here in Sydney, Rugby League generally and the Cronulla Sharks in particular have been a PR nightmare. My grand-nephew, a Sharks supporter, has even invited me on Facebook to join a group called “Save the Sharks!” Well, they do need saving, as even more strange revelations, not all of them about group sex – though not as far as I know with each other, continue to surface. Mind you, these days, despite spending my first 26 years in The Shire, I rather support South Sydney at the moment. Of late they have been doing rather well, and are jealous of their image too.
All this brings me to my third classic. If ever someone produces a slim volume of the Classic Columns of Miranda Devine today’s effort would merit inclusion: Natural men scolded into timidity. I think Miranda would well understand Jane Eyre’s adherence to Mr Rochester, though there have been columns that might lead one to think she may have preferred St John Rivers – but then he is, after all, a Calvinist. Today she tackles the real men of Rugby League in a manner more than defensive of the sweaty jockstrap.
As the mother of two junior rugby forwards, the wife of a former prop and daughter of a one-time flanker, it is time for me to come to the defence of violent sports and the men who play them.
The attacks on former Footy Show star Matthew Johns, rugby league and men in general – branding them as dangerous predatory brutes who need to be chained, scolded and nagged into submission – have gone too far.
The initial criticism of Johns was warranted, after revelations last week that he and his Cronulla Sharks teammates, during a 2002 tour of New Zealand, engaged in a gang bang with a naive 19-year-old woman, who in the ensuing years became so distressed about her degradation she tried to kill herself.
But since then, Johns has been crucified, with demands he name his teammates, sponsors threatening to pull out of rugby league, a school principal banning NRL players from visiting classes and mothers stopping their sons playing the game.
You always know when zealotry creeps into a story there is another agenda at work – and that is that the Johns case is a beachhead in the war against masculinity, waged by those who think the only difference between men and women is cultural.
This notion of a socially constructed "gender" has been the central idea of the women’s studies movement since it began in the 1960s, with its aim to produce an androgynous utopia. But the culture has changed and there are still men who refuse to act like women – damn them – even if they do have smooth, hairless chests…
Well, I agree that Matthew Johns has been crucified, but you can see where Miranda starts on another agenda of her own. That’s “objectivity” in the Devine world, no doubt, but the column is truly a classic in its own way. Unlike “Stuff White People Like” it isn’t satire, though it unintentionally comes close.
Last week’s Clarke and Dawe was the most brilliant one for weeks! It relates to an earlier post here: ‘Pacific solution’ to thank for relaxed detention rules: Ruddock – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) — among other reports.
BRYAN DAWE, COMEDIAN: Mr Ruddock, thanks for coming in.
JOHN CLARKE, COMEDIAN: It has been too long, Bryan.
BRYAN DAWE: Yes, you have expressed regret this week
JOHN CLARKE: Yes, I have.
BRYAN DAWE: About the length of time the Australian Government held children in detention
JOHN CLARKE: Yes that’s correct.
BRYAN DAWE: When you were in Government.
JOHN CLARKE: Yes that’s right.
BRYAN DAWE: What was your portfolio at the time?
JOHN CLARKE: I was the Federal Immigration Minister.
BRYAN DAWE: And who were the children.
JOHN CLARKE: The children, Bryan, were the children of people seeking asylum in Australia.
BRYAN DAWE: They were put into detention.
JOHN CLARKE: Yes, that’s right.
BRYAN DAWE: Is that normal?
JOHN CLARKE: It was normal at that time, Bryan.
BRYAN DAWE: And now as I understand it you regret that.
JOHN CLARKE: I regret the length of time that those children were kept in detention.
BRYAN DAWE: Yes, and did you speak to the Immigration Minister at the time?
JOHN CLARKE: I was the Immigration Minister at the time.
BRYAN DAWE: So you regret yourself?
JOHN CLARKE: I do not regret myself, Bryan, I regret that those children were not released earlier than they were.
BRYAN DAWE: Why weren’t the children released earlier.
JOHN CLARKE: Because of a lack of funding.
BRYAN DAWE: Oh, so there’s hidden costs in opening a gate, is there.
JOHN CLARKE: That is a facetious remark, Bryan, and I shall ignore it.
BRYAN DAWE: Tell me, what are the costs of letting children out of jail then?
JOHN CLARKE: The children, Bryan, were not in jail.
BRYAN DAWE: What was it called then, this place where children were incarcerated for longer than you now think they should have been?
JOHN CLARKE: The children as I repeatedly said were in detention.
BRYAN DAWE: You would have liked funding for what reason.
JOHN CLARKE: I said I regret, Bryan the fact that we did not have extra funding.
BRYAN DAWE: Yes, but why do you regret that.
JOHN CLARKE: We could have built a better jail. Not for the children…
And so on. They captured The Cadaver style to perfection!
NSW Police, acting on complaints by Interested Citizens, are on the point of cracking Child Pornographer William Shakespeare. “I have never heard anything so disgusting in my life,” Prime Minister Rudd told Good Morning Australia.
“But I was disgusted long before Kevin Rudd, and no child will have to pay for petrol under a Coalition Government,” responded Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson on Sunrise.
Shakespeare — not to be confused with Australian singer Johnny Cabe whose suggestive lyrics (see the YouTube) do explain his choice of “William Shakespeare” as a stage name — has been foisting his filth on impressionable young Australians for years, informed sources say.
While The Chaser has arguably been about anarchic poking fun pretty much for the sake of just poking fun, there have been other shows that are true satire — ridicule and travesty in order to prompt reflection or reform: the benchmark from ABC past is Frontline.
From the promos it would seem The Gruen Transfer may be in that grand tradition.
…I have decided to give you a couple of snippets from The World according to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith.
First, a statistician observes a passing woman.
Here, approaching him, was a 60-year-old woman, with two point four children, twenty-three years to go, with a weekly income of… and so on. Now there were carbon footprints to consider, too, and that was fun. This woman was walking, but had probably taken a bus. She did not go on holidays to distant destinations, Spain at the most, and so she used little aviation fuel. Her carbon footprint was probably not too bad, particularly by comparison with… with those who went to international conferences on carbon footprints. The thought amused him and he smiled again.
“You laughing at me, son?”
The woman had stopped in front of him.
Stuart was startled. “What? Laughing at you? No, not at all.”
“Because I dinnae like being laughed at, said the woman, shaking a finger at him.
“Of course not.”
She gave him a scowl and moved on. Chastened, Stuart continued his walk…
I have reported before on other novels by Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith: here and here. The World according to Bertie (2007) is my first venture into the 44 Scotland Street series, originally serial novels in The Scotsman:
The fifth volume of the series begins on Monday. In the past three years, it’s gone worldwide: you can read about Bruce and the other inhabitants of Edinburgh’s most famous fictitious address in Lithuanian, Latvian, Turkish, French, German, Polish and (coming soon) Italian bookshops. Across America, 44 Scotland Street sells in the kind of numbers most writers can only dream about.
With well over a million copies of the series sold in the English language alone, there’s already a huge readership waiting to find out what Scotsman readers will be the first to discover: what McCall Smith’s gently comedic imagination has in store for all his characters (see panels) in the new series. But we’ll start here with Bruce, because he’s the one member of the cast who’s causing his creator the most problems. Read the rest of this entry »