This podcast was recorded on the lands of the Dharug, the Dharawal, and the Gadigal of Eora nation. We pay our respects to elders past and present and acknowledge the elders of tomorrow. This land was stolen and sovereignty was never ceded, Australia owes a debt that can never be repaid and must come to terms with the historic and ongoing genocide of the First Nations. There is no revolution without Treaties.
G’day voters and welcome to this bonus episode; we are 3 White Guys + Guest, a political podcast for a cynical nation.
At Home Alone Together is a new comedy series on ABC, hosted by Ray Martin, it takes a look at the lighter side of quarantining and government-sanctioned lockdowns. Ostensibly a funny idea, it recently included a (now viral) public service announcement sketch that involved some of Australia’s most televised faces telling those watching not to start a podcast in this time of pandemic.
A fairly innocuous bit that’s amusing in a broad sense.
For those who don’t know, podcasting is just AM radio on the internet, most people listen on their phones.
The original viral tweet was posted two months ago, just as the lockdowns were beginning, and at a time where coronavirus podcasts were kicking off. It was funny and topical, Nicola Coughlan’s wry tone befitting the brevity of a platform like Twitter.
This isn’t to say that this is an original joke by any stretch, lots of straight guys be making podcasts, exhibit A: yours truly. But the context and framing of the joke is too similar to ignore.
However, this isn’t just an issue of joke-stealing comedy writers and/or theft of intellectual property, it’s also an issue of who tells the joke.
An Irish millennial actress whose career has just taken off cracking wise about the spare time people may have soon is very different to a stale group of (overwhelmingly) Boomer and Gen X opinion writers and minor celebrities lecturing downward at people who have been forced to stay indoors for upwards of two months.
One of the central issues Australia faces is the cult of celebrity destroying the concept of public leadership, as the status quo benefits those willing to do anything to stay in the limelight.
The nation is as stagnant as the careers of those involved with this clip, and it highlights a much bigger problem everyone wants to ignore: class warfare.
Nick and Sean from the 3 White Guys + Guest podcast joined me for a quick chat about the problematic nature of this sketch:
Remember when the ABC was ours?
Remember when the ABC held the government to account?
Remember when a show like 4 Corners did everything its name suggests and explore a topic from all angles instead of simply rehashing a narrative of political argy-bargy while failing to look at the powerful monied elites who truly shape climate and energy policy?
Remember when the ABC didn’t hand over troves of government documents back to a hostile and corrupt government only to be then slapped down by that very same adversarial government again and again.
And remember when the ABC was funny?
Remember when it pushed the boundaries of funny with the avante garde and the off-the-wall?
Remember when ABC comedy was original and not lazily relying on memes to tell everyday people to stay the fuck out of media?
Isn’t it ABC Ours Now? Aren’t all the ABC promos people singing that fucking song about how we’re all part of this great nation and how the ABC is part of all our lives?
So why then have a bunch of celebs, actors and journos – some might say media professionals – telling Australians not to make their own raw and accessible media material?
I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the Victorian Liberal Senator and affirmative action hire Sarah Henderson when I say that if this is what the ABC considers humour these days it is both unfunny and poorly executed.
For starters, don’t a bunch of these media professionals have their own podcasts? Aren’t several of them famous through reality TV – a vacuous galaxy of entertainment that allows everyday people their fifteen minutes?
Now there are plenty of Ranier Wolfcastles out there explaining how that’s the joke, but again I say it’s unfunny and poorly executed.
If that’s the punchline, then why have the actors? Why have Leigh Sales and Peter FitzSimmons? Why have those other people who people don’t recognise?
Thanks to all those who pointed out that it’s a meme. Wow. So edgy. So meta.
But what the fuck is that? A meme? Is this what the creatives at ABC Comedy are doing now – taking other people’s jokes?
But what is a meme but meta humour, a remixing of an idea that spreads and evolves organically.
It’s the ultimate expression of democracy. Owned by no one, accessible to all.
Like the ABC should be.
And also what’s with the attack on white men under 35? We’re not the enemy – old white men are – like the ones on the National Carbon Continuation Commission – I’m sorry, National Covid Coordination Commission – who are writing Australian energy and climate policy.
But we didn’t fucking hear about that on 4 Corners.
These are unprecedented times. We know things are hard right now. You’re stuck inside with nothing to do, production is on indefinite hiatus and your agent has faked their death in order to give you the slip.
You might be going out of your mind just desperate to get your overexposed mug on national television.
But now, more than ever, it’s time celebrities should think about how patronising their opinions sound to everyone else.
So please, don’t talk down to your fellow Australians. Don’t do it. You might feel like being able to cook, or using roses to shepherd skanks, or playing an opinionated 20-something Melbournite hipster on television means your opinions are somehow more significant but… they’re not.
Fitzy, or Wippa, I don’t know which one you are (and I don’t care) but we don’t have “a spare room”. We’re ordinary Australians.
Leigh might think she’s got opinions, but you can’t tell the difference between her writing and an IPA press release.
Michaela, no one is going to crap on about Always Greener or Upper Middle Bogan on a podcast because no one watched those shows.
(And Fitzsimons, that thing you wear on your head is so obnoxious that I can tell it’s red even in black and white.)
We know you’re scared that Aussie celebrity is such a weak and fickle thing. (It is). But maybe don’t take every opportunity to jump on camera and talk down to the serfs.
We understand that you’re craving attention right now, but you have to curb that shit – what are trying to do, rope your friends into a Logies’ fantasy league via an email chain?
Face it: Aussie celebs’ night of nights is such a farcical shitshow that Gleeson pulled the whole rug out from under your fragile egos. Plus he definitely got the last one.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic!
Working Australians are struggling to eat, pay rent and stay safe let alone imagine a brighter future. So fellow Aussies: if you’re struggling to hold it together and this is the only thing that’ll keep you sane, then go for it: Record a fucking podcast.
And as for all you d-listers: fuck right off.
Australia has long struggled with tall poppy syndrome, an apparent need to cut down those achieving success by pointing out their flaws and disparaging their efforts.
For some, it is seen as jealousy and an overwhelming desire to level the playing field as no one individual deserves any additional praise for doing their job in the land of the fair go.
Of course, others recognise it as class-based criticism, highlighting the inequity of our society and reducing the special status of these wealthy elites, for whom the status quo is incredibly profitable.
The idea that Australians should shut the fuck up and do as they’re told is the antithesis of this podcast and the blog that inspired it, so it really does rub me the wrong way for the revolving cast of The Project to expect deference in this time of lockdown and isolation.
And look, we get it, it’s supposed to be a joke, but good comedy doesn’t punch down. This bit highlights the decline of The Chaser writing after they gained a certain level of fame, the head writer for the show is Chris Taylor and anyone familiar with his work will recognise his style.
Once upon a time, this alleged comedy might have had a go at politicians refusing to address the corruption of the last decade because “coronavirus” or shit celebrities singing “we’re all in this together” but now Australia’s commentariat class demands silence because some people want to explore new media and any success in this field would undermine the value these fuckwits place on the sound of their own voices.
These are the bastions of opinion and commentary, the people booked on Q&A as a last-minute replacement or asked why the poors are complaining so much on The Drum.
They are the defenders and protectors of Australia’s celebrities, the fearlessly outspoken class who absolutely believe in the bootstrap theory, they deserve their fame and wealth, the rest just aren’t doing enough.
These are the people telling us to shut the fuck up.
No wonder Australians are turning away from the ABC, there is a deep contempt for the working classes at the heart of the national broadcaster.