Louis’s Latest Set

It was okay. Not great. Louis, before his downfall, was the most successful comedian in the world and provided powerful self-deprecating insight into modern society. However, Louis C.K.’s most recent foray into the world of comedy, after a nine month hiatus, was amateur and immature. 

His well-worn style of frank and fearless comedy has taken on a streak of loathing and laziness. His surprise set in a New York comedy club recently was discernibly Louis, but far enough from it to be almost an imitation. Has he lost his mojo? Definitely. Can he get it back? Maybe.

There is a clear and obvious theme in his 45 minute piece of trying to push the envelope. That itself is pure C.K. Where it differs is in its laziness; whereas circuitous routes were previously taken to mocking the already distainable, Louis now takes to mocking the vulnerable or embryonic and does so with a real lack for any hidden meaning. Ostracism of trans people is something that the best comedian can pull off and have the trans community laugh along with it, but Louis failed in that and can now only provide the boring view of a stale old white man, grasping at the straw of gender-neutral pronouns. The idiots may laugh, but his core audience now rolls its eyes.

The devolution of a once-great comedic commentator into a Dane Cook-style hack could be attributed to many factors. Perhaps he has deliberately distanced himself from reality as it has from him, or maybe reality has distanced itself from him in revulsion. In either case, the originating cause is in his sexual misconduct. 

In either case, C.K. had the opportunity and intellect to return to his glory days through a precisely targeted set which acknowledges his wrongdoing and turns it on its head in a purely C.K. way which is of self-mocking and of lambasting the equally blemished. Had he come out as a full force against both his past self and those whom the media has equated him with, he would have most definitely been welcomed back into the mainstream. He could have, with one eleqouent stroke, have mocked both Kevin Spacey and the New York Times who outed then both.

Instead, he took the easy and lazy route of shrugging off any self-responsibility, totally side-stepping the elephant in the room, and instead choosing from an array of topics only bothered with by the ill-informed or talentless of his peers. 

I was and remain a fan of Louis C.K.’s work. His latest is not noteworthy and will be only a footnote in his career. Whether that footnote is followed by a new chapter is up to him. But unless he can re-engage that past genius which elevated him to the height of show business then I will not be paying any mind to his future works. For any other fans, I suggest you judge for yourself whether he is really back or whether, as I posit, he is now just a shadow of his former self.  

Violence in Chelsea

Visiting my friend’s cafe on Thursday evening, I was alerted to an unusually large police presence in central Chelsea. I initially dismissed it as being because of the large number of beach-goers combined with the fact there is a large police station on Chelsea Road, likely doing patrols for the broader area.

The following day, reports in the media suggested something more nefarious. Aside from the relatively benign idiotic confrontation between some jet-skiers, the primary cause of concern to police was the attempted robbery and assault of beach visitors by petty thieves.

The Age is now alleging these thieves to be part of a ‘gang’ responsible for assaults in the western suburbs as well as the events in Chelsea and, earlier in the year, in St Kilda. I would question, firstly, whether it is reasonable to refer to the group as a gang given that there is no apparent organisational hierarchy, coordination, or other attributes commonly found in organised crime. It would appear that they can, at best, be defined as young thugs, or petty criminals. The Melbourne Mafia would eat these kids for breakfast, or perhaps hire them to make breakfast. This distinction of ‘gang’ not being applicable is reinforced by Victoria Police being historically unwilling to label the associated demographic1 as such, both for the reason that they don’t meet their criteria, and so that they don’t aspire to claim such a label in future.

Further issue is to be found in the Age’s coverage of the events in Chelsea. Mainly, their use of witnesses, none of whom are (known) residents of Chelsea, and who do not claim to have directly witnessed the events at all. One is a couple from Greensborough, the other a woman from Heathmont. Two local business owners were also interviewed, who of course were not present at the time and could offer only understandable concern for their trade.

Police are to be commended with the rapidity and strength with which they responded and continue to make patrols of Chelsea. I think the issue is probably gone and was just passing through in any case. Chelsea and its neighbouring suburbs have very low crime rates and are rarely witness to specifically violent crimes. It is likely the unexpectedness of crime in a low crime area which made this front page news the following day. Perhaps it was also to do with the ethnic origin of the perpetrators.

That these people deserve to be held accountable for their violence is unquestionable. However, that we (and the media) must stop hyperventilating every time a black person commits a crime is certainly a notion we should entertain. People have the potential to suck no matter their racial background, and as a liberal democracy we should understand this and use different tactics2 to confront the issue that don’t involve further isolation and discrimination towards the perpetrators. Ending the cycle of crime is certainly much easier whilst the criminal is young and open to impression, both positive and otherwise.

Notes

  1. Young male African immigrants.
  2. Youth engagement programmes, English classes, job and educational opportunities, etc.

The ABC and the ABC-in-exile

As the concept of a national broadcaster for Australia was being developed, conflicting ideas on how it should be constituted arose. Two competing models were put forward: a national ABC, and a national-ist ABC. It was the former model, one of an organisation that acts as a public utility, fulfilling its duties of cultural and political enrichment, of the dissemination of fact-based journalism, that triumphed and persists to this day. This is also known as the BBC model, as both the ABC and BBC have in common their statutorily guaranteed independence; there is no official means by which the government of the day can interfere in the reporting and duties of the broadcaster without amending its founding Act, which requires approval from the parliament.

The explicit exclusion of interference from the executive branch of government is fairly unusual on the part of the parliament in a Westminster system: there development of regulations and “filling in the gaps” is usually left to the cabinet and public service as it can more readily deal with unforeseen problems as they arise. However, the exclusion of interference was seen as fundamental to the development of a national ABC, one which represents the nation and its people. This is the “bottom-up” broadcaster which attaches to and takes its ‘orders’ from the cultural Zeitgeist. It forms a symbiotic relationship with its nation’s people, where it seeks to reflect the people’s values and to provide diversity in exchange, to offer enrichment to its zeitgeist with the introduction of new ideas and objective critique of both the domestic and foreign.

I have told a lie. 

The national ABC did not triumph, as triumph implies victory and an end to the contest that was being fought. The national-ist ABC, the ABC-in-exile fled to and flourished in the private sector. This private sector ABC, however, is only propagandistic for the government when it suits, and when it suits is when its favoured son, the Liberal Party, is the one governing. When the Liberal Party is in opposition, the nationalist ABC is the most stringent critic of the consequent Labor government, it becomes the unofficial party newspaper. It will likely have already dawned on the reader that this ‘nationalist ABC’ is something which has taken various forms, but which is today represented by the juggernauts of News Limited: the Australian, Sky News, and their tabloid cousins.

That the ABC and News Limited would be in a state of constant conflict comes as no surprise given their alternate views on journalism and reporting, rather than what most attribute the conflict to: ideological differences. In truth, ideology is a consequence of the journalistic philosophies of the two groups and not the cause. Support for the Liberal party is consequent from News Limited’s instincts for survival, which depends on an unregulated media and an alliance against a common enemy. News Limited would happily roll over for Labor and accept public funding if it were to be nominated as the alternate national broadcaster and funding for the ABC were to be abandoned. Most importantly of all, the News Limited outlets would desire amendments to the ABC Act which allow for editorialisation and the prioritisation of ‘national interest’ ahead of ‘public interest.’ Consider this the manifestation of the notion articulated in brazen terms by One Nation as the “Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation,” where patriotic is read to mean only the understanding of said word from the right wing perspective where no left wing views can be held to be even remotely patriotic. 

The fact remains, however, that the nationalist ABC has been exiled and is unlikely to overcome the actual ABC any time soon. Thus there is no triumph, but rather a stalemate. Whether a triumph is best to be sought is debatable. Rather, the only desire ought to be the fulfilment of the statutory requirements and protections of the ABC, and of the protection of independent journalism for which it was primary established. It is without which that we end up with the most recent situation of the exclusion of the ABC from the Pacific Forum by the client state of Nauru, presumably on the vicarious orders of News Limited via one Malcolm Turnbull. 

When a prime minister feeds conflict with the national broadcaster you know that he is acting well outside of the national interest. To presume to attend a meeting for which an agent of the Commonwealth has been banned is an endorsement and legitimisation of said ban. It is therefore evident that the Liberal party is once again accepting and encouraging the existence of a state within a state; an alternate reality. The IPA, the Australian, and the various right wing media idiots all form a ring of imbecility in which the elites of inner Sydney can all find their views and minds all safely held without critique. It is for that reason that when any Sydney elite gains power they are likely to encourage the war with the state, and the growth and propagation of the state within the state. 

In the most recent budget, the Liberals granted public subsidy to Foxtel, the hosting cable network for News Limited’s Sky News, whilst also cutting funding to the ABC. This is the explicit re-allocation of public funds from the ABC to the ABC-in-exile. This is an act of provocation by the Liberal party against the nation that they presume to represent. In truth, the Liberals are outsiders, aliens, truly un-Australian by nature.

In any case, News Limited consistently rates worse in every platform in which it is a competitor with the ABC. The preference is always for ABC News 24 over Sky News; for ABC Online over the Australian. Perhaps Australia can see through the thick veil of bullshit, or perhaps it sick of having a view imposed from the top-down by an elite, rather than having its views reflected by a public organisation that seeks only to enrich the world around it, rather than enrich itself and its Sydney-based millionaire shareholders. It has got to be said, also, that Australians can sniff un-Australian sentiment from miles away, and there is nothing more un-Australian than moving to America, abandoning your Australian heritage, and starting up a business with the intent of manipulating and controlling the public consciousness throughout the world, and in particular in Australia.