I enjoyed The Age article by Theodore Dalrymple on a world that has become trivialized by the ‘cult of authority’. Bono has the authority, if not the knowledge, to ‘save’ Africa and we listen to him because he is a celebrity. The philanthropic millionaire with his IPOD and his rose-tinted sunglasses is determined to save those kids from AIDS. It is better than his singing.
Spoilt brat Diana Princess of Wales never said anything in her life that was not banal and saccharine. She was taken seriously because she was a ‘Queen of Hearts’, ‘People’s Princess’ celebrity who incidentally provided moral leadership – a recent rock concert in her memory sold out in 20 minutes. Although she was always a bit of a lightweight she had authority because she was a celebrity dill.
Some of this analysis applies to recent trends in Australian Labor politics. Australia has its own logie-level, proletarian, celebrity aristocracy that is being recruited to stand as Labor candidates.
Maxine McKew is cute and smiles a lot but has distinguished herself in the lead-up to the next Federal election by saying nothing beyond the utterly trite and obvious, ‘it will be an uphill battle’ etc etc. She has been pitted against one of Australia’s most experienced and wily politicians, JWH. Yes she can ask good questions in an interview but don’t politicians also have to be able to answer questions?
The ABCs weatherman Mike Bailey will challenge Joe Hockey. Apart from being a recognized person on ABC news what skills does he bring? Why a weatherman who reads simple prompts from an autocue? He might be better than Mary Delahunty but not by much.
Nicole Cornes is the wife of a celebrity. (Yes celebrity status can be transferred by marriage). Nicole is attractive but doesn’t know what a tax cut means and would not have a clue about global warming. She is a Labor candidate in an Adelaide electorate.
Labor doesn’t have a Bono but does have Peter Garrett who is just as
pretentious and just as lacking in political (and musical) ability.
As I have said before: Why not Aunty Jack, Kath, Kim or Mr Squiggle if the ALP wants celebrities? Or as I have suggested before, recruit Bindi Irwin for the Rudd job.
Even without taking things to such extremes isn’t it almost ludicrous to trivialize politics in this way? Was there ever a time when Australians took politics seriously? A time when engine drivers, teachers, doctors, farmers and fish and chip shop operators were selected as Labor candidates. The Parliamentary Labor Party is replacing a few of its union drones and party political hacks with celebrity nothings. Are there not alternatives?
Why can’t Labor and why cannot Australia do better? Is Labor recruiting celebrities because it sees this as one step up on the party hacks and trade union dummies that it would otherwise choose? Are there no better alternatives? What happened to people with substance - the likes of Peter Walsh, Barry Jones and the sensationally able John Button? Decent men had ability who were anything but celebrities.