I never thought I’d say this

but in some ways we Aussies are fortunate in our public opiners, despite the regularly boggling bloviations of Bolt, Blair, Devine, Albrechtsen et al: at least no newspaper in this country employs Thomas Friedman.

Categories: culture wars, environment, media

Tags: , ,

23 replies

  1. Yet.
    Chris Clarke’s last blog post..Moderation

  2. That was AWESOME!
    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..PMS (or Uterus Free to Good Home)

  3. I had to read Friedman’s “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” for a my (fantastic) globalisation course at uni. Read in isolation, without any knowledge of how the world really works, it sounds wonderful. Add some basic general knowledge to his scenario and it doesn’t look so shiny anymore. I had fun hacking his arguments to bits in an essay. Our lecturer, who was American and thought Friedman was a joke more than anything else, called him the “master of patronisation”.
    Occasionally Friedman writes an article that makes some sense – I can recall one that The Age reprinted. But only one.
    As an aside: I wish American commentators of all stripes would stop using the word “retarded” so flippantly.

  4. And don’t forget this review’s predecessor, Flathead. FORGET THE CINNABON.

    Now to be fair to our home-grown commentariat, I think Elizabeth Farrelly is nearly as ignorant and arrogant as Friedman, she just has a better grasp of her metaphors. Paul Kelly of the Australian is nearly as tedious and trite, but again, he’s not quite as numbing.
    What I would like is a homegrown Matt Taibbi; and before anyone suggests them, the Chaser boys don’t count.

  5. Yes…there was something else offensive in there as well but I forget what now. It spoils an otherwise beautiful piece of writing.

  6. I enjoyed reading this til I got to the part about Valerie Bertinelli’s arse. I’m sure there was a way to ridicule Friedman’s logic without the misogyny. Also a shame about the employing of the “muslims are crazy terrorists” trope on the first page, but overall I like the writing style and Friedman sounds like a typical uninformed douchebag.

  7. @Liam- do the Chaser boys annoy you too? I can’t remember exactly when a bunch of over-entitled, under-informed white male uni graduates who get paid to make fun of women and minorities, started passing as progressive humour.

  8. Matt Taibbi’s sexism and occasional bonus ableism have really destroyed my ability to appreciate his writing over the past few years.

  9. PP, I’ve got nothing against over-entitled underinformed white male uni graduates, you know, being one myself. I find the Chaser’s humour occasionally hilarious, but I still find them infuriating.
    Before Mark Latham became ALP leader, they did this skit where they stood outside Federal Parliament with an actor in tracksuit pants and week-old stubble, offering the MPs a chance to “bash a dole bludger” with a foam kid’s baseball bat. Most of the MPs declined but when Latham came along he took the bat and smacked the hell out of Chas Licciardello.
    I loved Latham from that moment onwards.

  10. PP @ 6, ah yes, that was it…oh haha muslims as terrorists, oh haha women and their expanding/declining bottom size.
    The Chaser boys occassionally get it right, but YES their blithe white-boy version of leftism shits me. Oh HAHA women etc gets v fucking old.
    Just wondering if you could offer some examples of Farrelly’s ignorance Liam as the couple of things I’ve read have been entirely reasonable.

  11. It’s the way the Chasers are so tickled by their own cleverness that puts me off. They have that air of being perpetually bursting their waistcoat buttons with delight at themselves that reminds me of the Freakonomics boys.
    Friedman’s style is to show the way he has gone about thinking through a subject. Unfortunately the called-for response is invariably: “Think harder, Tom.”

  12. at least no newspaper in this country employs Thomas Friedman.

    Or Glenn McCoy.

  13. FP, I dislike Farrelly for exactly the same reason I hesitate at the Chaser: orlando’s “perpetually bursting waistcoat buttons” at her own cleverness is a far better sentence to express it than I could have written. And since I seem to have moved the thread topic on, here’s exhibit one in the Elizabeth Farrelly Australia’s Most Overrated Columnist trial.

    Did you hear the one about the artist, the engineer and the editor? “I don’t want to be judgmental,” insists the young artist, flogging his McMansion-based project. “Let me reassure you all that we’re not being judgmental about the suburbs,” interposes the creative engineer, convener of the zero-carbon forum. “We always have to take a balanced view,” confides the journal editor over a working breakfast, “in case we’re seen to be partisan or judgmental.”


    And then there’s feminism which, in elevating process and relationship over product and principle, has so overvalued niceness as to discourage utterance of anything potentially offensive, injurious or disagreeable, even (or perhaps especially) if it’s true.


    Many of us are nostalgic for a time when you could be poor and respectable. When there was more than one public measure of a person’s worth, more than one hierarchy.


  14. Sorry, moderatiori: there’s an </a> missing there.
    [Sorted! ~tigtog]

  15. Cheers TT.
    Exhibit B can only be described as I can haz stoic dictatorship??:

    Government is like parenting and what has gone wrong with contemporary parenting is pretty much what has gone wrong with government. Just as today’s parents are reluctant to discipline for fear of causing negative feelings in their offspring, governments are reluctant to govern for fear of alienating their ever more demanding, ever more petulant electorate. We behave like a world full of spoilt babies so monstrous that even our politicians won’t gainsay us.

    Or is it I can haz der letzte Mensch?

    The irony is that democracies, however individualising, reinforce our herd nature at every step. Just as capitalism pretends to enhance choice but actually reinforces sameness in everything from health insurance to fashion to lifestyle, so democracy enforces the lowest common denominator of mass-culture and mass-opinion even while appealing to each of us as an individual.

  16. I’m not sure Australia is more fortunate in its public opiners (Robert Manne springs to mind), probably just it’s sub-editors.
    Deus Ex Macintosh’s last blog post..Proportion is for pussies…

  17. Fair play Liam. Jeepers.

  18. Umm… I kind of agree with her about that last paragraph, Liam. It’s always been one of the great ironies of capitalistic individualism that most people end up with too little to afford the luxury of much individuated behaviour.

  19. Orlando, yes, it’s superficially appealing. Democracy has limits, as does capitalism. Unfortunately, opposing both capitalism and liberal democracy on the grounds that they produce a limited morality and a culture of the lowest common denominator it isn’t Farrelly’s original idea. Consider Farrelly’s New Matilda article —I urge you to read it whole—and compare with the following famous manifesto. Before you peek, try filling in the blank:

    ________ sees in the world not only those superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself, self-centered, subject to natural law, which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish momentary pleasure; it sees not only the individual but the nation and the country; individuals and generations bound together by a moral law, with common traditions and a mission which suppressing the instinct for life closed in a brief circle of pleasure, builds up a higher life, founded on duty, a life free from the limitations of time and space, in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists.

  20. Not so fast, Tigtog. I’m afraid I see his pieces sometimes in the AGE (and I think they get into the Australian, too, although I never read the thing.)

  21. ”I dislike Farrelly for exactly the same reason I hesitate at the Chaser: orlando’s “perpetually bursting waistcoat buttons” at her own cleverness is a far better sentence to express it than I could have written.”
    I’m guessing you’d probably love Bill Kristol then, yes?
    Back on-topic, I’ve read some of Friedman’s columns, and the thing I find most objectionable about him is his warmongering tactics and subversive racism toward Arab nations – his latest effort is pushing the Obama Administration into some kind of war on Iran, without the logic of policy analysis in region-specific terms – total wingnuttery. These kinds of foreign policy approaches have been completely discredited in recent years, and the new US administration is rightly distancing itself from isolationist and extremist policies.
    I don’t equate Friedman with Farrelly. That is flawed reasoning that is not based on any understanding of his writing. If it were me, I’d liken him to Howard Government chanters in Sheridan, Albrechtsen, Devine, Kelly, Bolt, Sheehan, Salusinksy etc. But that’s just me.

  22. I’m with Chris Clarke on the Taibbi ambivalence. Mine stems from the fact I was living in Moscow when he was doing the eXile and the vileness of it really put me off anytghing with his byline (although eXile had good points, and Maude knows Russia needs all the independent journalism it could get, but still.) I understand he was off his head on whatever narcotics that whole time so maybe the new, maturer Matt will win me over one day. Not yet.

  23. God-damn it Tigtog, you went and invoked it!!
    I’m just putting that link there for verification, they seem to have taken it down now. I realise you did use the word “employed” and of course any US writer’s article is syndicated, but “employed” is a fuzzy concept in the world of media anyhow.

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