Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Silly's Insufferable Snobbery

ONE reads every few months of the latest declines in newspaper sales, which have hit the Silly Moaning Imperilled with quite a whack. It is always encouraging news, a further demonstration of the public’s common sense in recognising irrelevance and dispensing with it. Still, it would be interesting to dig a little deeper into those declining figures, to determine, for starters, just which parts of Sydney have rejected the newspaper more than others. While it is no better than a surmise, the likelihood is that Silly sales are holding up in Newtown and other epicentres of fashionable opinion, but tailing off in parts of town where mortgages and job prospects leave less time for striking fetching poses on the more academic abstractions of the day. For those who know not Sydney’s demographic geography, that would be locations like Rooty Hill and Emu Plains, where John Howard’s battlers did so much to keep his government in office.

Alas, that insight is available only to the Silly’s circulation department – and perhaps, were she to ask politely, to Fairfax insider and columnist A Dill Horin, who would have been well advised to seek a few pointers from the sales team before sitting down to pen her latest Saturday offering.  A heart-rending piece, it explores the anguish of A Dill’s friends as they raise broods too large for cramped inner-urban digs. There is no hope for them, she laments, but that they must bite the bullet and decamp to distant suburbs where their cash buys more space and bedrooms.
Some are contemplating exile to the Blue Mountains with its morning rush through the freezing dawn for a city-bound train. Others are gloomily surveying far-flung suburbs never before visited only to discover they can't afford to move there.
And what will they find upon arrival? Shocking stuff!
But Robert Mellor, the managing director of BIS Shrapnel, the property and economic forecasting analysts, says trade-offs have to be made: "People who have never experienced these suburbs find it hard to compromise. They have somewhat negative views." He mentions the word "bogans".
Bogans! Oh, the absolute horror! Just fancy A Dill’s cobbers being obliged to mingle with people whose wardrobes are not dominated by black, ignorant folk who might never have swapped bon mots with sophisticated French tourists. The thought fills her with such dread she even advances the case for having but a single child. “You never regret a second child. It is more love, more complexity, more interest,” she grants, before getting to what appears to strike her as the better option. “A one-child family is good, too, and Sydney's inflated housing prices just might spur the overdue reappraisal.”

Now just imagine that you happen to be one of those benighted unfortunates, the victims of brick veneerial disease who already reside in icky places A Dill’s pals “never before visited.” Do you reckon you might take exception to her column, discern the disdain and condescension that underscores her words? Do think you might even get a little angry at the arrogance of an argument which posits it is better to abandon the idea of a second child than be forced to move in and live next door to, well, people like you?

When Fairfax’s next owners assume control, via either a takeover or from the receiver’s auction block, they might want to expand their papers’ welcome – the Age suffers from the exact same elitist ailment – to those now dismissed with slights and insults.

Who knows what might happen?

Maybe, just maybe, if the Silly were to stop sneering at Rooty Hill it might actually sell a few copies there.


  1. I learnt over Xmas from an "ex fairfax employee" that the Silly's circulation free fall is neither here nor there - all its former dead-tree version readers are reading it on the internet rather than buying it. The obtuse point being that the Silly has not lost readership at all - but I wonder if they are smart enough to paywall it whether or not those virtual circulation numbers would stack up?

    Mind you Bunyip, you might wonder if the Jaspans of this world, now beavering away at The Conversation, might be moving the left's looney lyrics from the Phage and Silly to guvmint sponsored internet media outlets. So maybe it doesn't matter whether the Fairfax press goes belly up - as its penners and typists may now be found working at Conversations or banging Drums.

  2. A quick look at real estate sites reveals that an old, dark 3 bedroom house in Marrickville, near Newtown, will set you back $750k-850k, often more, while out at Kings Langley (near Baulkham Hills) you’ll even get a nice 4 bedroom house of much more recent construction and in a well established garden suburb for $550-600k. In nearby Seven Hills 3 bedroom houses of a modest character start around $395k.
    Horin’s thesis places her right in the demographic death spiral so graphically described in Mark Steyn’s last two books, particularly the recent one,“After America”. Her thinking is distinctly European, which might please her until she realizes that Europe is a demographic disaster area, which will ensure that their financial worries are incurable.
    Fairfax's may be incurable too.

  3. Louis: You are quite right. As the Left's unofficial mouthpieces fade and fold, we are seeing alternative venues for expressing the same opinions and with no nods whatsoever to even the pretence of balance. Wee Andy Jaspan has bagged $6 million from public sources and Monica Attard's new Global Mail has hoovered $20 million from an entrepreneur with more money than sense.

    What does the right have to counter/balance the trend? Little blogs like this one, Quadrant, the Spectator, Hendo's Sydney Institute, the IPA's publications... and ... and .. not much else.

    It would be a wonderful thing if the right put a little money into its own alternate mouthpieces and pulputs. The Bulletin's URL must surely be available for a modest price, as the owners of that magazine's corpse have made no effort to use it.

    That would be a good start at balancing the scales.

  4. This is the kind of vapid, worthless tripe that poor Greg Hywood, with astonishing self-delusion, thinks people will pay to read, once Fairfax gets the platform right.

    Mr Hywood - why do you think that the vast majority of sydneysiders would pay for narrow, self-regarding, patronising tosh like this? The problem is only in part the platform. It is also that which you have convinced yourself needs no amendment: the content.

  5. Spot on Prof. As a 20+ year resident of Newtown - migrating to study from Sydney's southwest - the problem for the Silly and for New Labor is exactly the same: contempt for everyone except the fashionably foolish.

    It is an indictment of New Labor that the Liberal Party is now closest to the views and aspirations of below-median-income Australians.

    The FXJ share price is equally an indictment of the Silly's distaste for those without the dubious qualification of being able to parrot (not paraphrase) the academic fad of the moment.

  6. The piece on Christine Milne in the SMH News Review Weekend Edition is ripe for a Bunyip fisking. Jaqueline Maley kicks off with a statement that shows no memory for political history, even the cartoon version of it. "Christine Milne may be the only politician to compare Federal Parliament to boarding school."
    Milne professes a love of history, something which has passed by a great many of those now wanting to write about politics. She says she is often told people are frightened of her, but jumps to the incorrect conclusion that they are apprehensive about being contradicted or criticised by her. They are afraid - for very good reason - of the future she seeks to bring down on their heads.
    She goes on to assert that most members of the Greens are just like her: mainstream!
    Maley appears charmed by this hard-headed, experienced balance-of-power operative who has "won for her consituency" such things as gay marriage and expanded World Heritage areas in Tasmania.
    She has now won for her "constituency" (just how many Taswegians does it take to get a senate seat? numbers please!) a tax which is another step towards the post-human environment the Greens seem to yearn for.

  7. Ahh, memory also serves me that my ex Fairfax source stated that they are "content" providers, supplying interesting "things" to entertain their readers, but accuracy not being top on their list of priorities. I recall pointing out to the source that a Silly Foto of Alan Jones with some other political VIP looked peculiar - peculiar indeed - the photo was inverted laterally so that the Jones' suit top pocket was on his right and not his left side. Don't know of any suit jacket that has the handkerchief pocket on the wearer's right hand side. That was the oddity that caused the eyebrows to flex. Apparently the graphics artist responsible for the crime (a Fairfax political conservative, of all types) apparently remarked, 'so what, it's the effect that was wanted', and accuracy not the overriding concern.

  8. "What does the right have to counter/balance the trend? " Talk-back (or talked-to more like it) radio Prof. The likes of Alan Jones and his ilk. Those who bother to search the net for Global Mail etc are more than likely those who read the Silly and the Phage, and/or listen to the ABC, but except for Canberrans, this is not a lot of voters. Listen in to the radio at workplaces, and at building sites, etc, and you will hear very different views expressed.

  9. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.January 1, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    It's interesting though Prof that when these mass baby producers do take flight to the 'burbs, sometimes a miraculous transformation happens. They find at local BBQ's that the old leftie received wisdoms when put to air are suddenly lead balloons hitting the decking like fake black CO2. They are stared down at P and C Meetings by people who argue for more discipline and school uniforms. Big four-wheel drives full of comfy offspring and their drivers pity kids stacked in the Prius in the carpark. No-one wears Newtown insignia. And the ABC does not rule ...

    The new immigrants soon learn to adapt and eventually go native; they are outnumbered. In five years or less they're voting Liberal like their fellow aspirants and the SMH or The Age lose all appeal. They often sneak off and secretly get married. There's hope yet.

  10. Fitness First gym, Rockdale gives away the SMH free, from a big stack at the front door. Not sure if all FF gyms do this.

  11. Professor, a more pressing issue than its encouragement of Sydney snobs like Adele Horin, IMO, is Fairfax's continued promotion of cultural fascists like Guy Rundle, who thinks mainstream Australia is deciding on its choice between the ALP and the Greens as its preferred destroyer of Australia's economic system. To say Rundle should be thrown off a bridge in a hessian sack with the rest of this country's social trash is probably too charitable.

  12. PhillipGeorge(c)2012 - has arrrivedJanuary 2, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    My apologies to the blog Prof, I've just taken a couple of days unannounced and unpaid leave. Did the Sovereign-Hill night show among other things.

    Geoffrey Blainey seems to me to have been a sort of local Enoch Powell - misquoted, misunderstood and publicly pilloried before pagan altars hastily erected for politically correct conscience's convenience.

    But Blainey has survived long enough to supplement his discourse; buttress his narrative with immutable substance. Talking to Rachael Kohn on Christmas day he made the remark, most people simply don't understand what happened with the Crusades. North Africa was lost to invasion - military takeover - and Europe was falling, bit by bit.

    While the left may seem as impervious to education as they are to insult - little bits of information like water to the hardest stone will wear them down. As dense as they may seem - they are facing a rout.

    Most people here would and do casually dismiss Christianity as the anachronistic baggage of pre enlightenment superstition. ie. they just haven't thought about the physical demands of abiogenesis - the cognitive dissonance occupying the gulf created between Louis Pasteur and Charles Darwin; they haven't thought about the limits of knowability explicitly revealed by Fitch's Paradox, Godel's Theorem, Planck's physical limits and Heisenberg Uncertainty. Rather than explain creation science has discovered it to be fantastically complex. Christianity is not like Islam.

    The left are simply wrong. Philosophically, scientifically, theologically, politically, economically, sociologically - though perhaps they made some passing observations about housing prices worth the read ie. their wallets remain dear to their hearts.

    And their hearts remain dear to Christians.

    Infidel's take note. The choices are real.

  13. Shortly after my return to civilisation from Darwin, I discovered another worry in my genetic makeup. My father, a life-long Brisbane resident, purchases and reads the Silly. Regularly.

    I had always wondered what therapists were for...

  14. Personally, I love the inner city, but inhabitants of any suburb unlucky enough to become the home of the Horin and her set need some serious vaccination and, possibly, tranquillisers.

  15. The Professor's dewy-eyed defense of bogans as the honest, hardworking and salt-of-the-earth types he imagines them to be seems a little overwrought to me. Would he stoop to reading such popular bogan literature as the 'Herald-Sun' for example? He could be forgiven if he did not.

    A Dill's existential concerns about having to down size and mix it with the plebs may be based on genuinely insurmountable cultural incompatibilites. I'd recommend she rent first and try it out for a year or two before making a definite commitment.