Ministry of Truth
The undead are people too: MOT goes zombie
I have learned one very important thing from writing this column: I thought I knew what culture was and I was wrong. Culture is not just fat ladies singing opera. Culture is everything from the movies we watch, the books we read to the advertisements on the side of buses. In terms of culture there is no one genre or medium that is more important than another. Celebrity Fat Camp tells us just as much about our society as that new arty farty Booker prize winning novel about the trials and tribulations of a blind cheese maker from Southern Tasmania in the 1860s. Every book, TV show or movie tells us something about ourselves and everything is beautiful in its own way.
However I am a little stumped by Big Brother.
If anyone can come up with a plausible explanation for Big Brother that doesn’t indicate the human race are a bunch of complete sad weirdoes who should be humanely put down immediately please write in. The only word I can use to describe the people on that show is apes. I practically expected the boys to start grunting. Although the noises they were making the other day were not very far off from that, but I think they were attempting to talk.
I don’t want to even contemplate that this is a microcosm of Australian culture. If that is Australian culture I am moving to a war zone immediately. I don’t mind the salacious and the silly, but this makes me embarrassed to share the same genetic material with these (and I use the word loosely here) people. Big Brother: The We Were So Desperate for Ratings We Just Found Some Monkeys and Shaved Them season looks more like a David Attenborough wildlife documentary. There is the one with the stupid hair and the stupid name who is the alpha male; the one who seems to think it is okay to hit women (if you are provoked enough) and the fawning females who seem to spend quite a bit of time grooming each other. I do realize that they have been dumped in a situation that has no social context, but this is like a sexed up chav version of Lord of the Flies.
File under: Do you know the official description for a Hot Dog? Emulsified High Fat Offal Tube. Pretty darn accurate if you ask me.
And I am not even going to mention that episode of the new Doctor Who coming up where the Doctor ends up in a futuristic Big Brother house where when you get evicted you get horribly and violently killed in a number of interesting ways. But it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling that there might be hope for the future of mankind after all.
And speaking of watching a bunch of mindless zombies…
Shaun of the Dead
Or how I learned to stop worrying about the undead and love my inner zombie: a film
Culture feeds on itself. Shaun is an ‘omage to the horror genre and is filled with blood drenched zombies groaning ominously and lurching out of doorways. If it were American this film would never had worked. They would have taken it all far too seriously and probably cast Tom Cruise as a hard working blue collar father of two slightly dysfunctional but adorable kids who, forced by tragic circumstances, becomes a kick ass zombie killing machine. Fortunately this film was made by the British Black Books/Spaced/Little Britain crowd and they don’t take anything seriously – even zombies (sorry, the living impaired). It makes being a zombie seem fun and upbeat.
And speaking of what happens to your society when your citizens behave like mindless zombies…
Not Happy John
A book about why democracy is really really important by Margo Kingston
The other day I accidentally gave a little presentation about the importance of democracy to a bunch of people who basically vote by closing their eyes and sticking a pin into the ballot. Amazingly they had never made the connection between all those ‘government initiatives’ that make their lives a misery and who they vote for. People admitted they voted for the person with the nicest sounding name. Aided by some groovy cartoons and a white board I managed to explain the entire political system from the constitution downwards, including the concept of federalism. And they got it.
You have never seen a bunch of people collectively start to think ‘OH’ like this. There were the single mums, the scruffy bloke who you don’t want to sit next to on the bus, the chap who went to the school of hard knocks – people society writes off. What Howard forgets is that these people may not drive a BMW, but they are not stupid. They wanted to know. Light bulbs were going off left right and center. Questions were coming in thick and fast. People who had never even contemplated the concept of democracy before were suddenly realizing politics is important to them.
They realized democracy meant they had power. They didn’t have to accept everything the politicians told them without question. That the system was designed for them. And they were angry: ‘But no one ever told us’ was the cry that went up. ‘Why weren’t we taught this? Why weren’t we told?’ They may not have taken home all the particulars of my deconstruction of the various sections of the constitution, but they will think twice next time they vote.
I’d tell them to read Margo’s book, but they don’t read books and I can’t proselytize that they should. But sometimes we need to be reminded about why we have all this government crap, why it is important and how a certain overly eyebrowed little chap is doing his best to undermine it.
File under: Democracy is the non ‘let’s blow up a number of trains to make a point’ way to change society. It is slow, nasty process, but it appears to be the best one we’ve got. A bugger, but there you go.