Unsure if I could stomach it, I nevertheless watched ABC Insiders yesterday morning, the main reason being to see what they would make of Bill Leak’s passing. Bill was a regular contributor to the Talking Pictures segment and appeared a number of times on the show. Given Bill’s long connection to the program and his significance in Australian media and political life, I thought it might have been appropriate to devote that segment to him.
Instead, in their warped ABC world, there was nothing in that segment about one of Australia’s greatest political cartoonists. Nothing! Instead, to add injury to the insult of silence, the ABC gave the guest spot to a hopelessly ordinary comedian, Mark Humphries, who helps out on The Feed, yet another of SBS’s alleged comedies.
Humphries is an exponent of the lightweight, politically correct “satire” that picks on easy targets and is never likely to offend, unless you happen to be a member of the approved and designated target groups — you know, conservatives, Christians etc. It’s that asinine, blow-in-the-breeze type of “satire” common on government-funded channels, the sort that leaves an impression as transitory as footprints on a beach. Hardly biting, hardly satire, hardly funny (except that we all have to pay for it), but successful in assuring those who won’t think, or can’t think, that thought really isn’t necessary because, well, they already hold the correct opinions (and isn’t everyone who doesn’t think likewise just icky and awful, and a racist/homophobe/Islam-averse/rape culture advocate).
If you want to know why the ABC felt free to depict a conservative columnist having sex with a dog, that mindset explains it.
In August last year, using taxpayers money, The Feed broadcast what it modestly billed as “the most sublime takedown of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon”. This piece starred the aforementioned Humphries and his “limbo” sidekick, Jan Fran — limbo as in “leftoid bimbo”. Their superficial analysis and smug ignorance demonstrated in the clip below is astonishing. Watch and wonder why, two days after Leak’s death, Insiders chose to promote this particular, er, humourist.
It takes a great deal of intelligence to produce good satire, the sort Bill produced day-in/day-out. One of the keys to success in this field is to begin with a kernel of truth. But there is no kernel of truth in the notion that Bill Leak was racist, not in any way, shape or form. The misrepresentation of his opinions and cartoons by these state-favoured lightweights can perhaps be regarded as testament to our education system’s long-term failure to teach critical thinking. Unbelievably, SBS describe the above segment as “simply brilliant”. Brilliant, maybe, if you are as simple as Humphries and his femme foil, but utter crap to pretty much everyone else, especially those who grasp that, like it not, we all pay to keep Humphries out of a Centrelink queue.
The deliberate insult of broadcasting and promoting the perpetrator of this ordure — the person chosen by ABC to appear in the Talking Pictures segment less than 48 hours after Bill’s death — is palpable.
But Insiders didn’t stop there. Following the briefest of mentions of the sad news by Barrie Cassidy and a 30-second clip of Bill talking about the joy of drawing Kevin Rudd, the failing Australian Financial Review‘s Laura Tingle plumbed a new low with perhaps the most mealy mouthed eulogy ever uttered for a “friend”. Here’s what she said (emphasis added):
Vale Bill. I worked with him in the 1990s and he was a funny, outrageous man, we laughed a lot.
But [I've been] perplexed by where he headed in more recent years, and I suppose I wonder often where, in our collective game, about what happens to people when they’re being constantly told its good to be outrageous, good to be out-there, and what sort of impact that sort of has on you over the years
He was a brilliant artist and he will be missed by, er, a lot of people.
If all your friends were in the Tingle mould, being lost at sea, quietly and unnoticed, would be the preference. Dying would be bad enough, but the thought of a “friend” delivering a eulogy delicately worded to let others know that she didn’t really approve of the deceased would be unbearable.
Don’t fret, Laura, you did well. Those invitations to schmooze with Phillip Adams on Radio National won’t be withdrawn. You’re still part of the gang, still in with the in-crowd, and all it took to stay there was some damp-squib praise for an old pal.