Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bitch-Rape of Our Greatest Prime Minister

(MAN WHO LOOKS NOTHING LIKE JOHN CURTIN sits at a desk in what appears to be a BROOM CLOSET in a house nearly fifty years old. He has his head in his hands, and is weeping pathetically, while THE MAYOR FROM GRASS ROOTS sits near him, smoking a pipe and nodding in what he believes is a wise fashion. For some reason 'Curtin' believes him to be Ben Chifley, in spite of the fact he doesn't so much as vaguely resemble a caricature of the future Labor Prime Minister.)

"CURTIN": Ugh, I don't know what to do, Ben. I thought being Prime Minister would be easy and stuff, but it turns out to be HARD! Australian soldiers are all dying and stuff, and I don't know what to do! Do I order them not to die? Or should I just try to be less of a closeted homosexual? All I want to do is cry and write a song about the tears, and then curl up in a ball and wait for this all to just go away.

('Chifley' nods sagely)

"CHIFLEY": That sounds like an idea. Typical Labor policy that a couple of sopping-Red commies like ourselves would follow.

("Curtin's" phone rings. He answers it, and speaks into it in as Roger Explosion a manner as possible)

"CURTIN": What's that, Minister? What? Aiiiie!..... Well, goodbye.

("Curtin" manages to cause his entire desk to topple over in the process of putting the phone down, and then looks quite embarassed about it.)

"CURTIN": That was the Minister... they've bombed Pearl Harbour!

"CHIFLEY": That wasn't very nice.

"CURTIN": And Darwin!

"CHIFLEY": And even less so.

"CURTIN": I can't fight the Japanese! They don't agree with me. I'm far to sensitive... I think I should just resign immediately and join the Nazis. They're clearly going to win afterall...

"CHIFLEY": I won't hear you talk like this, Johnny Boy! I'd try and talk you around if I wasn't so Labor and thus out of touch with the average Australian, but I know somebody who can. Bob?

(The door crashes open, and THE BLOKE WHO PLAYED KEVIN KLEIN'S OFFSIDER IN FIERCE CREATURES barges in, though "Curtin" believes him to look like ROBERT MENZIES. He is curiously wearing a "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here Are the Sex Pistols" T-Shirt underneath his suit, carrying three loaded guns, and has steel-toe-capped boots. When he enters he is sculling from a bottle of VB, and when he has finished he bites the neck off and chews it.)

"MENZIES": What the fuck do ya want, ya wet ponce?

"CHIFLEY": Johnny's been having a crisis of conscience and general pissweakness.

("Menzies" picks "Curtin" up by the scruff of his neck and yells into his face)

"MENZIES": Listen to me, Melon-puncher! First, ya fuck off the poms. Second, ya treat with the Yanks. Third, win the war by using my uncle's farm road in the Kokoda suburb. Fourth.. well, there doesn't need to be a fourth, because you're so piss-poor you'll probably die in office before you even get that done. Ya hear me?

"CURTIN": Yes sir!

("Menzies" drops "Curtin" back at his desk)

"MENZIES" (to "Chifley") Call me when ya want a REAL Prime Minister, arseholes.

("Menzies" stirdes out of the room, and as he does so Sharpe's theme music starts blaring, seemingly from nowhere. As he watches him go, tears spring in "Chifley's" eyes)

"CHIFLEY": What a guy...


In case the subtext is to difficult to grasp, for me the ABC's Curtin went beyond 'slightly disappointing' into the 'AAAARGH, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU IDIOTS DONE?!?' category. Alarm bells were ringing some time before the fateful night that I actually sat down and tried to watch it (I only saw halfway through... I could NOT take any more ham-fisted direction. I was getting Chris Clough flashbacks..) when I read in articles that production had been ongoing for years (!) and that it had been further delayed by the ABC's new Gerard Henderson-enforced Anti-Bias laws (!!!).

Maybe I'm old-fashioned.. but I believe that some things are above and beyond 'bias' and 'anti-bias'. For example... Marquis deSade, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Buonoparte, and Caligula. Even if you take a sympathetic angle of looking at them, you're left with the single fact of "They're seriously fucked up". That's not any sort of "anti-Corsican midget bias" on my part. It's acknowledged and accepted fact. I would hope that the same would be true of Curtin.

Yes, he was Labor. Very, very Labor. But was he not the Prime Minister who saved Australia from invasion? Was he not the Prime Minister who broke a suicidal treaty with Great Britain? Is he not the Prime Minister who became a hero to The Diggers fighting overseas (Yes - he would have lost his own seat thanks to Liberal chiccanery if it weren't for the fact that serving soldiers still had a vote)? Did he not give his own life, by overworking himself to death in his office? I think that elevates you to hero status.

I mean, does anyone talk about George Washington's politics? No. And it isn't just because of gross American over-sentimentality regarding their own history. When Washington crossed the Delaware, performing one of the greatest, most dangerous and most brutally effective military maneuvres in history, he reached that level of 'hero', giving him immunity from criticism until the end of time. Read much about his hypocrisy with regards to slavery? I thought not.

Curtin mightn't be Washington level, it's true, but he has to be at least comparable. But there does seem to be an innate loathing in this country about history itself, for truly elusive reasons. Australian history especially. Personally, I think it's because you're at school and learn it's apparently like this:

1776 - Australia is invented
1901 - Edmund Barton said 'Let's stop fucking around and make this a country'
1915 - The Battle of Gallipoli. We lost.
1942 - Our entire army is stationed in Singapore and gets their ass handed to them. We spend the rest of the war in Changi, doing fuck all but dying.
Next forty years - Nothing happens
1996 - John Howard gets elected

I really have to admire the minds that work so hard to suck absolutely everything of interest out of a 200 year old story that encompasses near civil war, incredible achievements of engineering and exploration (the good explorers, I mean - Burke and Wills were fuckwits) five major international conflicts (Boer War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam) in ALL of which our troops were especially distinguished fighters, and ... well lots of other stuff.

So anyway, we have people who hate Labor making something for a community that hates history. They see the chance to make the biggest load of bullshit imaginable with absolutely no budget, talent or imagination involved, somehow making the single biggest military ANYTHING EVER into a load of boring dickheads in terrible suits sitting around sets that make Doctor Who look better than Lord of the Rings. I can understand that. I don't need to like it and I don't like to think about it, but I understand that it was made.

I then understood TV critics lauding this as the greatest thing since virgins shipped in bubble wrap, as, hey, this is a piece of Australia tele-drama, they need to PRETEND it's good to stop themselves and others crying themselves to sleep at night at the fact they're from a country incapable of making anything half decent if it involves a camera instead of a nailgun.

And then... it wins a Logie.

What. The. Fuck?

..I have no idea what the competition was. I can't fathom how anything could possibly be worst, unless if Home & Away, All Saints and Neighbours were seriously the only competition. But even THEN I would assume H&A would win!

The troubling thing is that the Logies are bullshit... but commercialistic bullshit. How does something from the ABC win an award?! The only possibility in my mind is that... lots of people really liked it.

HOW? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

Tonight I asked the question - was I the victim of the most elaborate practical joke ever, wherein the Roger Explosion version of Curtin was beamed into my house and my house alone, and the rest of the population got a version NOT written by Gerard Henderson one-handed?

Any other explanation would be welcome.

1 comment:

Youth of Australia said...

I gotta say Curtain wasn't at the forefront of my mind and I didn't catch most of it, so I can't really give an opinion of it. It had to be most emasculated I've ever seen William McInnes - even when he played that wussy journo whose wife died in his arms in Seachange, his demeanor is someone who could bully Avon in the playground. In Curtain he seemed to be made out of damp sugar.

I loved your take though - like Double the Fist reviewing 1984 for Australian's Favorite Book...

"Wiston finally surrenders because he is scared of rats, the weakest and most pathetic of phobias we have ever heard of. Without even trying, we can think of three hundred scarier things than rats: drowning, having the Opera House fall on your head, falling into quicksand filled with ravenous phirana fish, getting your genitals caught in the doors of a moving train when you are standing on the platform and being dragged along with it..."