Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Peter Costello, Malcolm in the middle, David Hare and Elephants Above the Line

Each Tuesday is treat day for followers of the original prattling Polonius, advisor to popes, princes and potentates, Gerard Henderson.

But this week he isn't in strong form in Elephants out, wise owls in. For a start he attempts a joke, always a dubious proposition for a desiccated coconut with a singular sense of fun:

I'm no longer concerned when reference is made to the existence of an elephant in the room. The fact is that I am more agitated about the cliche in the building. (Hey you in the sound booth, cue the laugh track, that's a joke). The increasing use of the term "elephant in the room" is a trite way of suggesting that someone is deliberately overlooking evident reality. However the saying is often used when no denial is taking place. (That's better Gerard, they're snoozing already. You've hit the tone of an undertaker burying a feeble joke nicely).

The rest of his column is an arcane accounting of the state of play between Malcolm Turnbull and that invisible elephant in the room Peter Costello, and the current policy talking points of the commentariet. It's impossible not to feel like Homer Simpson in the presence of Reverend Lovejoy and steal from the church as quickly as possible.

But we're made of sterner stuff than Homer. First there's Gerard on Laurie Oakes' poor interview with Turnbull, channelling Kerry O'Brien's ABC style (which is to say unreconstructed Stalinist leftie from 1930). This on commercial television! Stalinism alive on Channel Nine. Stop Kerry revolving in his grave or there'll be an earthquake. If only Gerard had been doing it in his precise tones ...

Then it's on to the need to put industrial relations and carbon emission reduction policies on hold - no need to sink the economy while the world starts sinking - and then it's on to an anxiety attack about the outlook for the economy and rising unemployment.

Gerard's prescription? Limit real wage increases, or perhaps cut real wages, and offer large income tax reductions. Income tax cuts worked so well during the Bush years, we just have to keep on doing it. That way we can maximise unemployment and minimise employment (sorry, got that wrong, Gerard put it the other way round, which sounds so much better), and most importantly, keep making sure that CEOs get their huge payouts and bonuses (especially bankers and financiers). Better still, why not ship all the jobs to China so the minions will learn a quick sharp lesson about suffering through a downturn. Bloody vexatious workers.

Anyhoo, we then come to the punchline:

Turnbull's immediate problem with Costello does not turn on mythical elephants but rather on the fact that Costello has an unambiguous policy for the global financial crisis.

And Turnbull doesn't? Perhaps that explains why in the latest News poll Costello is the choice of 49 per cent of Coalition supporters, ahead of Turnbull at 28 per cent (non coalition voters were more evenly divided. Perhaps more of them understand what a destructive, preening prat Costello is being).

So Gerard where does that leave us? Like bulls in a china shop? Or the coalition up shit creek without a policy paddle or an effective leader?

Here's the realpolitik. So long as Costello sits on the back bench, smarmy and smirking and unctuous and smug, and all the media dote on him, the Labor will keep on scoring goals when they should be kicking behinds - or having their behinds kicked. Your choice Gerard, but suddenly that cliched elephant metaphor is sounding pretty good, by Ganesh it is.

Correction to a correction: 

Last week Gerard incorrectly stated that David Hare was involved in writing the screenplay for Frost/Nixon, and is perhaps a bit sensitive about this because his column revolved around how important it was that stories made for screens big and small had to be correct in every historical and factual detail. We mocked this at the time, making coarse jokes about the tits of actresses not matching the tit size of the real people being portrayed.

We now regret this mockery. In his zealous, unbending, never ending pursuit of the facts, just the facts ma'am, Gerard has again missed the point. On a metaphysical, Joseph Campbell level, David Hare is completely responsible for the writing of the screenplay for Frost/Nixon

Indeedy, that arch leftie, sitting on the left side of Satan, is responsible for everything currently left wing in the cinema. Quite possibly he read the screenplay, that'd be enough for it to be infected with his ratbag commie pervert thinking. Likely enough he read the screenplay for that homosexual propaganda Milk. And he definitely wrote the screenplay for The Reader, which gives Nazism a free kick, and The Hours, which gives Nicole Kidman a big nose. And his plays -e.g. Pravda, A Map of the World, Plenty - are all wretchedly leftie or arty in tone.

Given Gerard's critique of Frost/Nixon as inaccurate and riddled with historical errors, he is perhaps a bit sensitive about what at first glance might seem like an actual error. 

But what if it was actually a reflexive, post modernist insight? By giving him the credit, Gerard's calling out David Hare as antichrist inspiration for all leftie cinema. I can see us working this up into a big one Gerard. 

Tom Cruise to play Hare, dedicated to the destruction of all historical truth in cinema, adopting pseudonyms and disguises, and fiddling with online encyclopaedias so no one can know the truth about anything. Like in V for Vendetta. Hare wears a Guy Fawkes mask and gets voiced by Geoffrey Rush, after the Thetans steal Cruise's voice, like in Battlefield Earth

We end up in a subjectivist surrealist existentialist nightmare, with the only way out to ban all cinema, all television and the intertubes. That means plenty of bombings in the third act as Hare tries to take out towers and theatres and web server locations, and Sly Stallone tries to stop him (I reckon we could get Sly in on a visa, he's the kind of third rate hack we love in Aussie mid Pacific movies). 

So you weren't making an error Gerard, you were discovering a fundamental story-telling truth. Just make it up as you go along, and if it's entertaining no-one cares. No need for an apology. I'm more convinced now than ever that David Hare somehow was involved in Frost/Nixon - ah that's right it has a lot in common with Hare's play The Vertical Hour. To quote a pundit: Both are looks at American attitudes and ideas in comparison to British ideas, or at least perspectives, and in both, the American side comes off as sympathetic but ultimately misguided.

Now I know that some of you might think Gerard's entire approach in his column - treating works of fiction as non-fiction - was a misguided error. But that's being very shortsighted.

That fiend Hare, you nailed him Gerard. Don't back down, don't apologize. Never surrender. To infinity and beyond. And perhaps you could spring for money for a concept, so I can work it up in to a one pager, and then it's all downhill through treatment to screenplay of The Frost/Nixon/Hare Conspiracy. Too cornball? What about The Frost/Nixon/Hare Ultimatum? Cooking with elephants Gerard. Hey that's not a bad title either.


Anonymous said...

Who is Dorothy Parker? Who cares?

I remember the real Dorothy Parker and this excessively verbose one ain't no Dorothy Parker!

dorothy parker said...

Hey anonymouse, since she died in 1967, you must be an old fart then? Did you have lunch with her at the Algonquin? Bet she drank you under the table ...

Anonymous said...

Define "fart". And how do the old differ from the young of that genus?

Nick D said...

Old farts are those dribbly ones which leave an underpants residue.

Or so I'm told, not being old and all.

Anonymous said...

Beam me up Scotty. No sign of intelligent life on this blog and no point in returning.

The pseudo Dorothy Parker and Nick have some growing up to do it appears.

dorothy parker said...

Well stone the crows and bash a bandicoot, a visit from a Trekkie. Danger Will Robinson, Klingons be here. Quick J J Abrams release your story of the early days, smote the wicked and make it right. Can May 7th come soon enough?

Oh Simon Pegg you have so much work to do. Quick beam anonymouse up ... these Vulcans have no sensahuma ...

(Oh if Clive Hamilton only saw the shame of this site and its treatment of guests).

Nick D said...

Lithium, anyone?