Media Talk: Advance Australia Fair?

Media Talk: Advance Australia Fair?

'Is Rafa for Real?' read the headline accompanying Lynn Barber's hilarious profile of tennis ace Rafael Nadal in the last issue of The Weekend Australian Magazine. Today that story is chased by a picture of a shirtless Nadal on The Australian's tabloid sister site The Daily Telegraph with the strap line: "John McEnroe is tired of Rafael Nadal's modesty, demanding the Spaniard change and become egotistical."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard – disrespectfully referred to in seething tones by the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott as "she" during Question Time – might do well to be more egotistical: her Labor predecessors Paul Keating and Bob Hawke certainly were. But the 'real Julia', as we've learnt in the 12 months since her dramatic ascension to the top of the Party's ranks, doesn't do airs. Besides, we can tolerate arrogance in men; not so much in the opposite sex. Is this Australia fair?

While tennis appears to have progressed beyond the shouty, tantrum-throwing of the McEnroe era (entertaining, nonetheless), politics remains in the sandpit with leaders throwing proverbial mud pies at each other ("I'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal!"); our media recording every twist, turn, scrape, graze and wobbly-throw in the game. Twitter and its often infantile observations has only added to the kiss-chasey around the asphalt ("Tag, you're it! Na, na, na, na, na, na!"). Wet hand-balls are flung, sticks and stones are thrown, the skipping rope trips up the less skilled, Band-Aids are administered, the big boys and girls brush themselves off and get back into it in this scrum of political one-upmanship...

It's a wonder any work gets done with this constant watching of one's back; the school bully ready to pounce at your most vulnerable moments. Tom Dusevic's 'The Trials of Julia' paints a word picture of a national leader with a vision for the country ("to remake how we experience what it is to be Australian") painted into a corner, pegged against the handball wall, losing her grip – some of her own group don't want to play anymore. Aussies, not sold on grandiose ideals as money needs to be found to buy the groceries and pay the bills, are putting their fingers in their ears; who cares about an Australian utopia where everyone is a contented, productive worker-bee connected on the online superhighway?

Her vision blurred, her ego bruised, there is still hope for Labor's fall-girl in the white coat. "We’ve had the Little Digger, Ming and Black Jack. Later on, the Silver Bodgie, the Bankstown Brawler, Honest John and Kevin 24/7," writes Dusevic. "Now comes perhaps the most audacious one since Emperor Gough: Oprah-tunity Gillard and her national makeover. Perhaps tags like Ju-liar, Gill-hard Left, Red Julia and La Gillardine will fade. We shall see. Like the nation, Gillard is a work in progress. Confident but still learning, striving despite a vulnerability to crashes, fair in spirit with opportunity for all and ever hopeful our best days lie ahead."

Egalitarianism, egotism, egg-slinging... the schoolyardesque spectator sport continues.

Girl With a Satchel


Bec Aitken said...

Amazing how the misogyny has really come out of the woodwork since Julia has come to power. Particularly from some prominent women (looking at you Gai Waterhouse). Like the saying goes, Julia will have to work twice as hard and be twice as good as a man to be considered half as good.