Malcolm Farnsworth on the Murdoch Media’s confected outrage du jour: actress Cate Blanchett has political opinions, and dares to share them in public.
These days the pretence of fair play is all but gone. The default position of the Opposition is to smear and traduce anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them or express any sympathy with a government policy. One wonders what Joyce would have said if Blanchett’s name was Gina Hancock. You suspect her free enterprise spirit and entrepreneurial flair would have been proclaimed loudly and long.
The dumbed-down populism of the tabloid press is nothing new but it has about it now a vehemence and viciousness that can still surprise, especially in its casual, off-hand dismissal of an Australian citizen’s right to speak her mind.
The really big lie is how they’re using slanted language to mislead a less than careful reader to believe that the pro-carbon-price ad was made by the government using taxpayer money, when it fact it was made by a coalition of environmental lobby groups using funds raised from private donations.
Notice too how all the tabloid venom is for the patrician-looking Blanchett. Ocker actor Michael Caton also appeared in that ad, so did previous liberal leaders Malcolm Fraser and John Hewson and a brace of sporting stars: they’re hardly being even mentioned. It’s all about framing Blanchett in some demanding diva role instead of the truth of her being just one member of an ensemble cast of volunteers giving their time freely.
As pointed out by Tom Arup in today’s SMH:
The justification for the story was the community outrage Blanchett had sparked for her views. Pretty incredible that outrage, particularly given it manifested itself hours before the ads even appeared.
Michael Caton is really unimpressed:
”I did it because I think Australia can make a difference,” Caton said. ”We were the first to give women the vote, we were the first to come up with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, we developed the cochlear ear implant, but we’ve been becoming timid. And look what happened. Cate Blanchett appears in an ad and gets her head kicked for being a rich bitch.
“Can I be ironic? Cate Blanchett is in favour of the carbon tax because she is rich, Malcolm Turnbull is in favour of an emissions trading scheme because he is rich, Kevin Rudd is in favour of one because he has a rich wife – it’s a conspiracy. Apparently rich people aren’t entitled to express a view unless they are billionaires complaining about a mining tax.”
Can’t have uppity womenfolk free-ranging those opinions now, can we? Not unless they’re managing a billion dollar mining inheritance, then it’s just fine for them to be wealthy and opinionated.
Categories: culture wars, environment, ethics & philosophy, media
Hurrah for Michael Caton’s response and for the chorus of outrage gathering momentum.
I hadn’t seen the ad or known that the ad was produced by an environmental lobby, so thanks for this post. ( I love Cate, and I had no idea why this was such a big deal.)
I’m not surprised that you didn’t know that it was NOT a government ad, Pirra. The Outrage Merchants have been very hard at work to make sure that as many people thought that it was one as possible.
I saw the ABC’s mention of the whole thing on Sunday – Senator Barnaby Joyce saying that Cate Blanchett was out of touch with the Australian people and all. My reaction to that was “hang on, she’s an actor, not a politician – it isn’t her job to be ‘in touch’ with the Australian people, it’s her job to act.” I then promptly wrote it off as Barnaby Joyce managing to put both feet in his mouth up to the knee (and then managing to enunciate around them).
I find it interesting that only politicians and journalists are “officially” allowed to have opinions and articulate them in the world the media is attempting to shape. If you’re not one or the other of these groups, then you need to be speaking to them in order to have your opinion voiced clearly (which offers up its own little joys of gatekeeping and such, but that’s another argument for another time) – and if you want to speak to them, you need to be able to pay for their time and effort (which is why the rich get to have their opinions freely voiced – they’re buying the time).
So, in the interests of getting a dissenting opinion out there, might I just point out that I’m in favour of the carbon price proposals as a way of putting a value on the environment we all live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and so on. By charging the polluters for creating pollution, Australia makes it clear that we value these things for everyone – not just the hyper-rich.
I read/heard that Joyce hadn’t even seen the ad before he objected to Blanchett’s involvement. Isn’t that failing some tenet of soundbite politics 101? See the target of your attacks first, so you can take a more adroitly calibrated shot at it? Or is the “she has alot of money, but she is not a businesswoman! She doesn’t get to air her views!” thing powerful enough to not require research or proper awareness of the target?
/Yes I did just read a book about the perils of opposition politics. How can you tell?
That’s why the journalists are always interviewing each other these days instead of reporting what non-journalists (other than politicians) are doing. Who cares what anybody else thinks or does?
Jay Rosen’s got quite a bit of analysis of this growing trend.