Thursday, July 28, 2011

I wanna shock yer jocks!

Amanda Palmer, lead shriek of Boston’s Dresden Dolls, who last year decided to take to some of Radiohead’s exquisite masterpieces with a ukele wielded like a child’s plastic hammer, follows what is fast becoming a well-worn path amongst northern hemisphere gliterati of Aussie-baiting in a rather transparent attempt to snatch a bit of publicity and no doubt boost flagging sales of the afore-mentioned EP. First she baited us with her ode to Vegemite titled, well, Vegemite. “It tastes like sadness/it tastes like batteries/it tastes like acid”, begging the question how she could possibly know how the latter two taste and still be with us. Now she appears to be appealing to Bill Gates to send us a ship-load of PC’s.

I can’t answer for the level of accommodation tour managers extended to Ms Palmer on her recent under-the-radar solo tour of Australia, but according to a story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, she appears to have formed the impression that one of the wealthiest, most secure and technologically advanced societies in human history has somehow missed the cyber-boat. The less-than-erudite Ms Palmer, whose Brechtian sensibilities appear to justify lyrics that extend to the frivolous when they are not completely non-sensical (and delivered to my asbestos ears with all the subtle harmonics of a mid-air collision), proceeds to offer we Antipodean Luddites some timely lessons in such cyber-trinkets as Twitter, suggesting we join the gang at the cool end of the playground before we start dragging our knuckles on the ground. I was going to publish Ms Palmer’s open letter to we poor Croc Dundees lurking in the scrub in our convict stripes, but I figure I have already made my point, and I see no reason to offer this one-woman cabaret from the troubled north any more publicity. 

Except to add that, if the Herald can be trusted (an admittedly big “if”), then who at the Australia Council thought it a good idea to post such dross on its web page? The irony, of course, is there for all to see, with the notable exception of the author. 

And while we are on the subject of those educated beyond their means, why is it that the most humourless man in Australia, Gerard Henderson, can continue to maintain the existence of political bias at the ABC while allowing the increasingly incendiary and ill-informed remarks of shock jock Alan Jones to pass through to the keeper? Yes, that is a cricketing analogy, Gerard, for whose frivolity I immediately apologise. 

The point has already been made ad nauseum, probably because it is worth repeating, but the increasingly barbed nature of public discourse in almost all the major OECD nations is already proving murderous, as witnessed by the recent tragedy in Norway and incidents such as the shooting of a US Senator some months back, and Jones’ recent nigh-criminal suggestion that someone should put our Prime Minister in a canvas bag and throw her into the sea does nothing but sharpen the barbs in the ears of the suggestible. 

It seems poets (that is real poets motivated by something other than their egos) have something to teach these self-appointed windbags about the value of labouring over every word. Is there perhaps a correlation between the proliferation of open-mic nights and the parlous state of public discourse?

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