Background Briefing (ABC). I’m still cleaning out files from my over-stuffed phone, and I stumbled on Burning Down the House, which was recorded in the wake of Scott Morrison’s overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull – was it only a year and a half ago? (recorded 2 September 2018) As a Labor/Green voter, there’s a wistful naivete about programs recorded before Labor lost the unloseable election last year. Hugh McKay said that people craved policies that saw them as more than economic units – well, he was wrong there, wasn’t he? Negative gearing and franking credits won the day.
Rear Vision (ABC) We’re fed up to the back teeth in Australia hearing about the Second Amendment every time there’s another gun massacre in the US. But this episode takes a different perspective, by looking at The American Gun Industry historically. It goes right back to the War of Independence, where it was only the decision by France, Spain and the Netherlands to secretly ship arms to the colonists (as a way of getting back at the British) that made it possible for them to win. The colonists decided never to be at the mercy of international gun manufacturers again, and so the government decided to establish a gun industry. For all the “I’m an individual with a gun” strutting that goes on, 40% of gun sales today go to government contracts rather than individuals. Eventually, the quality and longevity of the guns produced meant that the industry had to look at building in obsolescence, so that people would keep buying them. The Austrian Glock and the Italian Beretta competed with the US gun companies as well. Add to that the frisson of fear, especially after Barak Obama became President, and the gun industry and NRA was off and running.
Earshot (ABC) Where the bloody hell were you is a four-part series, riffing on Our Marketer in Chief, Scott Morrison’s Tourism Australia advertisement. Presented by Dee Madigan, who often appears on the Gruen Transfer, this feels as if it should be on television, but the advertisements they feature have embedded themselves so much into our consciousness, you only have to hear the jingle or background music to be able to visualize it. Episode 1 When Television Arrived in Australia discusses the shift from radio advertising into television, and notes that advertising was an industry that attracted ‘creatives’. Not that there was much creativity for Australian advertisers- they were expected to just mirror American campaigns. Episode 2 When the TV Jingle Reigned Supreme looks at the ‘golden days’ of the 1970s and 1980s when an Australian voice was finally let loose on the airwaves – not always a good thing! Episode 3 When TV advertising went mad was about the introduction of market research into the advertising industry, meaning that the marketing strategy came from the ‘strategic plan’ rather than from the creativity of the agency. Episode 4 When the Tobacco Ads Came Down talks about the rise of social advertising by government. There’s a really good, affecting section here about a doctor talking (and weeping) about why he joined BUGA-UP. It’s an interesting little series if you’re old enough to remember the 60s and 70s, and a bit of a wallow in auditory nostalgia.
Big Ideas (ABC). Two more blasts from the past. First, a panel discussion at the Perth Writers Festival on 23rd February 2018 featuring Kim Scott and Helen Garner. Called Literature Matters, it was a bit ho-hum really. I think I would have felt a bit cheated if I had attended in person. Another from February 2018 is Angela Merkel- the private person behind the German chancellor is perhaps misnamed, because Merkel’s unofficial American biographer Kati Marton, is having a lot of trouble finding the private person, just as nearly every other biographer has. Still, an interesting podcast.
Backdoor Broadcasting. Another recording of an academic seminar, this time the 2018 Hayes Robinson Lecture presented by Royal Holloway. The speaker is Phillipa Levine, and her talk is titled The Empire Has No Clothes: Nudity and the Imperial Imagination. Obviously a practiced speaker, she presents clearly and without rushing as she traces through attitudes towards nudity as art as distinct from nakedness in depictions of exotic colonies, the use of the ethnographic postcard, and the ‘white slave’, always depicted disrobed but demure amongst those lascivious heathens. The website has the Powerpoint slides that she is discussing. Interesting and well presented.
Outlook (BBC) The Black Woman Who Cared for a Clansman. Stephanie Summerville was brought up very differently to the other Afro-American kids in her neighbourhood. Her father wouldn’t let her play, talk and share interests with the other kids, propelling her instead towards a middle-class, intellectual future. But when she dropped out of college, she found herself working as a personal carer. It was her first job, and she needed the job, but then she realized that her patient was a Clansman.
Myths of War (ABC) I recently read Mark Dapin’s book Australia’s Vietnam, where he challenged many of the myths that had grown up about the response to soldiers on their return from Vietnam. In this series, he looks at other myths about Australia’s involvement in war. In Episode 1 The white feather women and their unwelcome gifts,he looks at those women who supported the war, a group not often embraced by present-day feminists (Judith Smart and Marion Quartly and their work on the National Council of Women and the Australian Womens National League excepted). Episode 2, Gallipoli: ANZAC mis-remembered is a real hum-dinger and very much in the Honest History mode. So many half-truths and transpositions from film (especially Peter Weir’s Gallipoli) that have become embedded in the national imagination. Episode 3 General Sir John Monash: a flattering self-portrait challenges the recent adulation of Sir John Monash and the rather outlandish claims made for his military prowess. Episode 4 Changi and the POWs behind the wire argues that (again, largely through a television program), ‘Changi’ has become short-hand for all POW experience, and that compared with the death marches, it was a relatively self-governing, already-existing prison with little presence of Japanese guards. He is not arguing that there was not atrocity, but it didn’t necessarily happen at Changi.