Guest Girl Talk: Pop culture, politics or both?

Guest Girl Talk: Can a girl have her pop culture Coco Pops and her political Corn Flakes, too?

When a prime-time TV cooking show has the power to shift a national political debate to nanna-dinner-hour, a girl's got good reason to question her politics. Here, Gen-Y writer and ABC Online intern Liz Burke ponders whether passion for pop culture and politics need be mutually exclusive.

I had a polarising proposition put to me this week that I just couldn’t pick: political passionate or pop culture junkie? (Today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘P’). If you had asked me five weeks ago, I probably would have paused to close a few Firefox tabs full of celeb gossip and fashion blogs, waited for the TV screen to be engulfed by the MasterChef fireball ad-omen, and finished flicking through whichever glossy had arrived in my mailbox that week before considering my answer.

But, to be honest, lately I’ve been more interested in the musings of Annabel Crabb than Anna Wintour; Crikey over Grazia.

With so much going on in both public interest categories, it’s hard to keep up even with one, let alone deal with clashes and overlaps. It’s easy to feel the pressure to keep up with policy talk and election commentary, which can leave you craving some lighter news. I don't think I'm the only one in the nation facing this dilemma. (Just look at the hits garnered by the Miranda and Orlando love story).

Even our prospective leaders are struggling to accommodate the current affairs/culture clash. We saw pop culture prevail when the upcoming political pressure test, the leaders’ debate, was bumped to accommodate viewers of the other big decider of 2010: appointing Australia’s next MasterChef.

The groans of respected political commentators and dining devotees alike were heard loudly on Tuesday when the clash was announced. Compromises like channel surfing suggestions and SatchelGirl's Twitter idea to have Matt Preston adjudicate the Abbott/Gillard debate proved the public’s need to satisfy their hunger for both democratic debate and dinner ideas (in reply the witty MattsCravat tweeted: "Nice but I prefer Gillard and Abbott in a pressure test - followed by George & Gary debating home, economic & foreign policies").

Delightfully, pop culture won out in the end and the PM had to cave.

In not-so-well-received campaign developments, outspoken shadow treasurer Joe Hockey called on celebrity references to insult Wayne Swan and probably also to show the kids he is “down”, likening the Treasurer’s spending style to Paris Hilton’s celibacy.

Wednesday night’s cringe-worthy display of pop-cultural convergence by Tony Abbott in his appearance alongside Kylie on Hey Hey It's Saturday's judging panel, I thought, was taking it a little too far. But it did raise the question, or rather the idea of the importance of entertainment-integration in political campaigning.

I think, and I’ll never say this again... it might be time to take a leaf out of Tony Abbott’s book (shudder) and combine the two (in a less tacky and slightly more respectable manner, please). We can’t always be all over everything, and it can’t hurt to be entertained as well as informed. Maybe this discussion doesn’t need to end with a decider, or even a preferential vote. Stay informed, people, but don’t feel bad for flicking to the social pages before brushing up on the broadsheets’ campaign diaries.

*Last night's ABC 24 launch went up against MasterChef... we’ll see how that pans out.

Yours truly,
Liz Burke @ Girl With a Satchel