Watching Big Brother

This week was a great example of Orwell’s 1984 being turned on its head, and it was all thanks to our television sets. 

Instead of Big Brother watching us, we were watching Big Brother — and what a change it was. Dedicated watchers of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, observed a vast array of the PM’s emotions, though possible not the full range — not, by a long shot. There was Kevin in full-smug, flashing photos of Nation-Debt-Building one moment — affronted by suggestions of hanky-panky involving the gift of his “little Aussie ute” ( minus a dog) — the next. Then awkward questions about car dealers, RuddBank and Wayne’s world. Something to do with giving finance to car dealers. Emmm? 

Kevin got really snarly about the ute. Does he have a dog? Strange thing about our Prime Minister. He never shows any signs of affection. 

Then our weekly favourite, Joel Fitzgibbon, admitting to some dreary item like his brother’s hotel bill, which soon morphed into secret meetings about his brother’s involvement with the nation’s Army, Navy and Air Force’s health benefit scheme. Confused? Doesn’t the Labor government hate private health schemes? Anyway Joel resigned and Kevin reverted to the fits-all-size school master look…momentarily.  

Meanwhile, on the international scene, there was the delicious moment when a semi-naked Borat, star performer at the MTV Awards, managed to float across the audience on a wire and land in the lap of the repugnant rapper, Eminem. The image of Sasha Baron Cohen’s (Borat) bare bottom, inches from the face of Mr Nasty was a stunning example of a well executed live-television stunt, bringing down the arrogant and repulsive. 

Back home, The Chaser’s effort was also arrogant and repulsive. It makes you wonder whether, like turning off our Northern Radar Defence system on weekends, the great ABC’s management team simply go home too early. Here are the keys boys — lock up and turn off the lights when you’re done. 

Again, the TV screen exposed to us the truth as The Chaser team belatedly attempted to apologise for their dud hospital skit. I can’t remember a less sincere act of contrition. Melbourne’s Sun Herald referred to it as a “grovelling apology” but it was nothing of the sort. The Chaser team were simply put out because their inept bosses had suspended the show for two weeks. Stuff the kids! What a life the Chaser boys lead. The Vatican one week, Poo Corner the next. 

Back in the old country Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave us a further example of how the television set allows us to study the faces and manners of the high and mighty. Unlike radio, television exposes the emotions. The Labour Party, having ended up with a wipe-out in local council elections and looking like coming fourth in the European parliamentary elections, is looking terminal. Brown tried spin to brush off the election results and the resignations of cabinet ministers. But you could see the deep-seated anguish. 

Closer to home Kevin Rudd was wearing face-mask #59 as he fronted the TV camera’s with his new Defence Minister, John Faulkner. It was all joy and triumph as our PM made the big announcement…but again that dastardly thing about television. What did Kevin mean by referring to John-the-toe-cutter as “Field Marshal”. Field Marshal Faulkner. Has a sort of Rommel ring to it. If I were John, I’d be worried. 

But the highlight of he week was surely the comments of Martin Ferguson, as he lashed out at union leaders. “As a son of a bricklayer, I appreciate the building industry is a tough industry, but there are expectations as to how trade unions conduct themselves. Having been given the privilege to govern, it’s also our responsibility to make sure we do the right thing…”. Ferguson only speaks when he has something important to say. How refreshing is that?

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