Friday, April 6, 2012

Luvvies In The Lucre

TODAY is a holiday and meant to be taken, at least by non-believers, as an exercise in ease and indolence. That fact is worth noting because the Professor could not be bothered doing a proper job and hunting up a list of judges for the Victorian Premier’s 2012 literary awards. The great minds who distributed artsy cash in 2011 came more readily to the top of Goggle’s search results so, for an exercise in determing what sort of people get these gigs, it will have to do. Let us start with the Drama award, whose three judges are listed as Richard Watts (convenor), Wendy Lasica and Jason Whittaker. Let us see if they have anything in common, shall we?

According to his blog, Richard Watts is “a 44 year-old gay man living in Melbourne, Australia: a writer, broadcaster, arts worker, arts lover, and Collingwood supporter.

So does Dramatic Dick have any, you know, firmly held political views? Turns out he does, as he explained in a November, 2007 blog post devoted equally to the left’s election-night triumph and that nasty piece of work, John Howard (the bowdlerising asterisks were added at the Billabong):

Woke late. The fear and doubt that had built in me throughout Friday was gone, replaced by a 'nothing else to do but wait' mood.

Voted - no sausage sizzle, damn it. Went to Richmond, took over from KP handing out how-to-vote Green flyers at a polling booth for two and a half hours. Still no sausage sizzle. Bantered with a Liberal, kinda ignored Family First, chatted happily with Labor volunteers.

Polling booth closed; walked over to KP's house for election night party, ended up staying considerably longer than intended because bloody Howard wouldn't do the honourable thing and admit defeat early. It wasn't until 10:30pm that he appeared to tell us what we'd know for hours; that his government had been swept dramatically from power. Elation, and yet...

Last night it all felt unreal, even with Rudd claiming victory on the TV before us. Thence to Trades Hall, and a huge f**k-off-Howard party; a sweaty, drunken, happy mess of a night packed with friends and strangers and delighted, disbelieving faces.

Today, it feels even stranger. After waiting and hoping so long for a change of government, now there's a sense of - waiting? sameness? A pregnant pause? Time to see what happens next; to see what Rudd will act on in his first 100 days of power. Indigenous reconciliation? Ratifying Kyoto? Dismantling WorkChoices? Will he govern well? Radically? Badly?

The sense of joy which filled me last night has been replaced by a sense of calm anticipation, and something else; something I can't quite put my finger on.

Don't f**k it up, Kevin.

So much for the panel’s chairman. What of his associates? 

Wendy Lasica is an arts bureaucrat with the good sense to send her child to a private school, which might be taken as speaking of a solid, bourgeois sensibility. Then you read one of her reviews and come across this:

…in Guerin’s Incarnadine, a tension is set up between the performers and the audience. At times, it was as if one was watching this work through a transparent barrier. Guerin sets up a scenario that demands our empathy, but denies us the emotional access to it. Guerin and Rebecca Hilton perform a tireless unison boundary-marking pattern on matching white spirals painted onto the floor. The sound by James Lo crashes and crackles around the dancers, while the stark white light dramatically changes direction, striking the dancers at odd angles. They are exposed by the light. They rarely leave their spirals, perhaps only to extend a movement onto the floor; but they retreat, eager it seems, to maintain their space.

By Lasica’s reckoning, this is bonza stuff. And the third member of the Drama panel?

Why, Jason Whittaker, who is the deputy editor of Crikey! Need any more be said? Actually, yes. Whittaker displays at least one of the traits that so often mark members of the New Establishment. He doesn't much like the working class or approve of its interests:

Just so you will know, the $25,000 Premier's prize went to Patricia Cornelius for Do Not Go Gentle, a production whose journey to the stage was long and very nicely funded:

… Patricia Cornelius took out the Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize for Drama worth $25,000 for her play Do Not Go Gentle, which premiered last year at fortyfive downstairs in Melbourne. She adds the prize to the shelf along with the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards - Play Award ($30,000) that she won earlier this year for the same play. It also scored the R.E. Ross Trust Playwrights' Script Development Award in 2006 and the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award in 2007. She’ll have to wait a little longer to see if she can score a State Premier trifecta with the West Australian Premier’s Book Award for Scripts ($10,000).

So it must be a great play, right, what with all those awards and prizes? Here is how lady of letters Alison Croggon describes what audiences can expect:

The opening scene is spine-tingling: Maria (Jan Friedl) shuffles onstage in dressing gown and slippers, opens her mouth and sings a glorious aria, while behind her six anonymous figures, dressed in thick arctic gear, march onto the stage, each leading the other like the figures in Breughel's painting The Parable of the Blind. It recalls Walter Pater’s insistence that all art aspires to the condition of music, yearning towards the mysteries of what can’t be expressed in words, and is as moving an image of mortality as I have seen in the theatre.

Ms Croggon, who served with Cornelius as a judge on the Ross Trust Drama Awards -- which Wendy Lasica now administers, just coincidentally – is baffled that mainstream audiences have been denied the opportunity to witness her associate’s genius, observing, “…this is another play that has struggled to find mainstage production.”

But seriously, who needs a paying audience when a play so long in development and for years unseen can generate such a nice revenue stream?

Victoria Premier and arty dilettante Ted Baillieu will host the upcoming annual literary handouts, every bit as unaware this year as last that those artistic sorts with whom he breaks bread at the bang-up celebrity dinner cannot stand his foul black guts.

That would be because they mistake the Liberal leader for a conservative, which is perhaps the ultimate demonstration that luvvies really are an extraordinarily thick and unobservant lot.  


  1. Oh professor, what are we to make of Bob Ellis when he gets his knickers in a knot over all this?

    The reader comments are usually more amusing...

    1. My but isn't Bob Ellis the little knob or is that nob -- the language fair singed my purr, or worse I am scratching furiously, hope it's not mange. Bob Ellis - what a parody. Thank you for the link though I won't be venturing there again without some strong protection, Bob is way too dangerous for this young and naive pussy.

  2. Why just these three, Bunyip? Weren’t you able to dig up any political dirt on the other judges? There are six categories after all: Fiction, Non Fiction, Drama, Poetry, Young Adult, Unpublished Manuscript and Indigenous Writing. You’ve drawn extravagant conclusions from one.
    This reminds me of the work of the well-known junior senator from Wisconsin who made such a goose of himself in the 1950s. Is there anyone out there who can remind me how he finished up?
    A new term is coined - “Bunyipism”.

    1. Numbers, why just these Drama? Because it was the first category to come up. Nothing more. Pick one at random for yourself, do a quick Google and let us know what you learn about the judges. But, please, let me tap a little clairvoyant streak:

      A network of people with very few degrees of separation, all from the same background and all sharing similar views. What you will find is that, as a group, they represent a very narrow demographic which has somehow gained access to public funds and which are now administered largely for the network's benefit.

      Or think of it clinically, as in value for money. The existing system neither helps a useful number of writers nor entertains a significant number of people.

      If we must fund the arts, than we really do need a better metric than "my friends all loved it."

    2. PhillipGeorge(c)2020April 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      Yasser Arafat and Al Gore both have Nobel Prizes. Tim Flannery has Australian of the Year. Molly Meldrum was king of Moomba. Elena Ceau┼čescu has a Phd in Chemistry from memory. All highly celebrated people in their own right.

      Dirt or no dirt I'd vote for Molly any day if it were a five way contest; rotting corpses not withstanding.

      Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Conservation of life being the best definition of conservative there is. Cheers Numbers. Are you an indigenous Australian or invader by the way? Circumlocutory is a hobby of mine. It beats shaking hand some time. Now why is that?

    3. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.April 6, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      The only goose around here, and a generally cooked one at that, is you, my dear Numbers.

      Get to work now, quick. The Bunyip has spoken. Show us your investigative mettle.

    4. PhillipGeorge(c)20202April 7, 2012 at 6:33 AM

      should have been said like this maybe? Can you imagine numbers a Joseph Conrad, Roald Dahl, or Wilbur Smith or Tom Wolfe needing an encouragement award?

      The world eagerly awaits the next generations of great writers. Awards nights are no more going to give them to us than the Nobel committee is going to deliver peace or Moomba is going to improve the Monarchy.

      Talent is its own reward - a symbiotic relationship. I have the money if you can write the book. Some weeks I'd kill for a good book - but I don't go to one of these short lists to get any ideas.

  3. This advantage of disbanding the committee, as Qld has done, is that these rusted on lefty types can be cleaned off.

    Disbanding the committee, would not, however, get rid of all of them. Still need to work out what to do about Ted.

    1. ''Still need to work out what to do about Ted. '' Maybe he's just a long term sleeper agent who is quite understandably aghast at inadvertently, purely by accident & against all orders & inclination ,ousting an elected Labour government,[ a bit like a jockey who isnt able pull the favorite in time ,when the stable isn't expecting or backing it for a win]& he is desperately trying to find a way of correcting that terrible faux pas....[& he is definitely succeeding imo.......]

      Could be wrong ,but that the only solution that seems even barely plausible to my eyes.

      He certainly has done his best to minimize any difference b/w the two brands.

  4. Sigh,if they only knew....and it's vital they don't......

    A brown trout rising to my #18 parachute Adams reduces 2000 years of human "art" to embarrassing finger painting.

    It's imperative they are all occupied on the weekends, don't want to see any of them on my rivers.

  5. Prof I'm shocked! Surely you are not suggesting that all these wonderful arts thingos are nice little earners for the luvvie brigade. Well, I was a naive little vegemite, but then numbers turned up to convince me that the Bunyip knows! I await numbers' expose of the other categories - damned sure I've got better things to do.

    -Carl the ex-naive

  6. IF we must fund the arts there is a simple solution. Stop funding artists directly and give the money to art consumers.

    Give each Australian a voucher that can be used to buy a book, see a movie, attend the theatre or visit an art gallery.

    1. And why would they bother to redeem them? Solution: give a cash rebate on each redemption, say $10 on each $50 voucher. That way they could be traded for goods and services by the philistines (without a GST attached) but they eventually would be redeemed.

  7. I'll tell you one thing they all have in common - they're all "as pure as the driven snow", so to speak.

    Except for the ones that aren't.

    No prizes (PTP) for guessing which 'tribe' they belong to...

  8. All that you need to know about the ACT Book of the Year Award is that Tony Kevin - Alena Composta correspondent and admirer, among other things - has won it twice in the last seven years, in other words, he’s won nearly 30% of the awards during that period.

    The awards are determined by the Minister for the Arts following the recommendation of a ‘Literary Review Panel’. I can find no information on the composition of this panel.

    BTW, one assumes that at least some adroitness in the use of the English language is one of the assessment criteria for the Award, so the following advice on the Award application form seems a little, well, odd: “If English is not your first language and you require a translating and interpreting service please telephone 131 450.”

    Consuela Potez

  9. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.April 6, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Have just recovered from a long and trying time attempting to readjust the wonky wheel on the fridge adjustment and transfer system after it came off during removals. As a metaphor for climatic variation, that is, fridge on wheels loses equilibrium and has axial tilt, I am sure there is a drama to be written around that, Prof. I will write a very nouveau play and seek funding pronto. I shall call it "The Removalists: The Iceman Cometh", thus inflecting a better dramatic past, and tell the luvvies I will paint the fridge green and vote it too. Money, money, coming up for Lady Lizzie? But when will the music all stop?

    1. Elizabeth - before the cooking one must first catch the rabbit.

      Is the fridge hinged to open to the left or to the right? It'll play to an empty room if it's the latter.

  10. Poor dears! Imagine having to wait a whole 11 years for the pecunious and responsible Howard government to shuffle off the stage. Hawke-Keating between them manged 13, QLD trotted along for over 20, NSW for what? 16?
    Now they have the debacle they had to have, with all their state ALP parties cut off at the trunk, not the knees, and the Feds boarding the tumbril (although for rather too long a ride) as we write.

  11. Numbers- McCarthy was right, the infiltration of the west was well underway in the 1950s and continued despite his efforts. You may be familiar with the phrase "long march through the institutions", although I doubt that it has troubled your one track mind too much. The most useful idiots were involved in the arts, media and education. I didn't think the military had any so idiotic, but you've presented yourself as a candidate.