kidattypewriter

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Boo hoo brouhaha

I don't know what it was exactly, but between the one millionth time the video of Penny Wong crying popped up in my feed and the one million and oneth time the video of Penny Wong crying popped up in my feed, something snapped. What is it with the news media and the news media audience and pictures of politicians crying? But then again, it's a confusing issue. On the one hand, I think my life would be greatly improved if I never saw a politician crying again. On the other hand, who's to say what benefits could come to all of us if our feed was full of all politicians crying, all the time? It certainly wouldn't be any worse than what the media is full of at the moment (and the media is certainly full of it). 

Everyone cries, of course, and politicians cry too. Bob Hawke cried. Kevin Rudd cried. And now Penny Wong cried, too, when the results of the plebiscite rolled in and it became clear the 'yes' side had won the same sex marriage plebiscite. And she just happened to be standing in  front of the camera and the camera just happened to be recording her and the ABC just happened to take that footage and post it up on the internet as a news story (HEADLINE: politician's eye glands still in working order) and thousands of Australians just happened to watch it with such regularity that it just happened to appear in my feed again and again and again.

Humans are generally sympathetic sorts, of course, and there is just something about a video of Penny Wong crying that makes others cry. It's probably something to do with her being a likable politician who obviously has feelings and emotions like normal  people. Though why those normal  people would want to click on a video of Penny Wong crying for a second, third, fourth, or one millionth time is another question entirely. Sometimes normal people aren't very normal at all.

Maybe, in future, just as sitcoms get made with a laughter track, soap operas will get made with  a weeping track made principally of the sound of  Penny Wong crying, and played every time a break up or a death happens, so normal people might be able to sympathise in that way normal  people do and maybe even cry the tears of normal people as they do every time that recording of Penny Wong crying is played.

Not that I'm saying Penny Wong should cry full time. Don't be sad, Penny! Australia is a thriving modern nation with great economic prospects and a fantastic manufacturing sector! And you only need to do it once!   

Why... why are you looking at me that way, Penny Wong? I.... I didn't mean to. But the mainstream media made me do it! No, no... really! Ayieeeeeeeeeeeeee! 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Gritty realism

Last week the exercise in German class was to sit and watch a video of a mountain and then come up with adjectives about it. The mountain was doing that thing it is that mountains do: not very much. In due course we had come up with a series of not particularly  original adjectives which the teacher was dutifully placing up on the board: "Hoch" ("high"), "neblig" ("misty"), "großartig" ("great, sublime").... at around this point I ventured: "Vielleicht es ist ein bisschen langweilig" ("Maybe it's a little boring").. The teacher laughed at this, said "Nein", and refused to write anything of the sort on the board: "Ja, langweilig", I cried, rallying to the course: "Es ist groß und grau und dreckig: langweilig!" (Big, grey, dirty).

And, come on, I was right: mountains are indisputably big, mostly a dull grey, and undeniably dirty: they are *literally* dirt. Big collections of rocks remain rocks, no matter how highly they may elevate themselves.

But people really do get over-excited about their big rocks. Just the other day the traditional owners of Uluru - that's the big red rock in the middle of  the desert, for anyone from other lands - decided to ban people from walking on top of their rock. Fair enough, it's their large stony object and they can do what they want with it, I guess. But the outrage! The anger! The cranky tweets and Facebook posts! Australians, it seems, really take their big rocks - and their right to walk over their big rocks - personally! What does it say over the state of a nation where one of their most beloved national icons is a gigantic rock in the middle of the desert? Mind you, we do have one over the United States. They get excited about a big hole in the middle of their desert.

What do people love about such masses of dirt, anyway? I suppose I shouldn't seem too dismissive of big rocks and hills and the like. Let's be exact and precise in our language here: a mountain is an exaggeration of dirt: there really is a lot of it. "A presence to glop at", as Auden wrote about that gigantic sphere of dirt and stuff in our sky. When Edmund Hillary learned of Everest, that gigantic collection of dirt in the Himalayas, his instinct was to climb it, too (this seems to be a common theme - getting on top of exaggerations of dirt, and then getting down to the other side). After he actually achieved this feat, one particular party - I'm not sure whether they were struck by a sudden fit of intelligence or a sudden fit of stupidity - asked Hillary why. Hillary's response was singularly unforthcoming: "Because it was there".

Well, they are there, after all, these hills and mountains and rocks and things, and they might as well earn their keep, which is why I suppose people do make such a song and dance about them. Tourism, photo opportunities, exciting travel opportunities (travelling to the mountain, travelling up the mountain, travelling down the other side of the mountain, travelling back home from the mountain again*) - not particularly meaningful, you might say. But who cares about giving meaning and substance to your life when you've got the basis for a national economy instead? Perhaps these big rocks have something to them after all.

Mind you, when we were in New Zealand in February, Lexi and I took a trip by train to Chateau Tongariro, right up next to the famous Mt Ruapehu. There was a train packed full of people, with a viewing platform where everyone could see its sublime peaks and its noble vistas. All the way there and all the way back, our sight of the mountain was occluded by large swathings of clouds and mists and the like. None of us got to see this wonder of nature at all. It was great. I even got a poem out of it:

Ruapehu! So bigly and profound! 
We've come to see your stately scenery! 
Though swathed in mystic mists, down to the ground
You truly are a sight we'll never see. 

 I wrote ten more lines of this, but you see where I'm going.

Not that I really have anything against rocks. They're all right, I suppose. I just guess I get annoyed when the big ones detract attention from the other ones, really. Why does that mountain range get all the glory? What about this majestic pebble? This sublime range of grit? That glorious garden full of urbanite a couple of blocks away? Where's the tourist industry and travellers and sightseers and chalets and Almhütten for that, hey? No! I didn't think so! 

*Or, if you are talking about Uluru, travelling to the mountain, not being able to travel up the mountain, not being able to travel down the mountain, travelling home from the mountain again, writing an outraged Tweet about it all, creating a mini-apocalypse of outraged Tweets in reply, having a hot chocolate and Ginger Nut biscuit and going to bed.
Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog archive