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The problem with Ten’s The Project is youth

Young people. Who knows what sort of popular entertainments they enjoy? But, we can probably name the sort of thing to which they are likely to remain indifferent. Say, murder mysteries set in quaint and monocultural English villages. Any product involving or inspired by Jeremy Clarkson. Australian television program The Project. Folks in the 16-39 demographic don’t seem to have really taken to the thing purportedly made for them.

Perhaps the people at Ten found themselves in unusually principled spirits when they decided almost a decade ago to tailor news to “youth”. Perhaps someone cleaned the whiteboard used for this noble brainstorming session. Must’ve done, as any discussion of a news show relevant to Young Adults must have produced the thought: include loads of news relevant to Young Adults.

If we are to take The Project as a guide for youth concerns, these are YouTube and making fun of pretty young people.

There isn’t a whole load of that. I mean, I just watched hours of the thing on TenPlay, an app almost shitty enough to exonerate the streaming developers of Foxtel. If we are to take The Project as a guide for youth concerns, these are YouTube and making fun of pretty young people.

Last Sunday, a perfectly reasonable young worker faced a panel led by Lisa Wilkinson to make the case for tax deductions in her trade. The worker was a model and no, not completely thick, you predictable cynic. She made the (legitimate) claim that models were more likely to generate income following cosmetic procedures. The panel made jokes at her expense and laughed about her daring; how could she even compare the deductions of a tradie with that of a MODEL?! Then, Wilkinson spent some time travelling to Back in Her Day when models just didn’t have those procedures of which the broadcaster clearly disapproved.

This was a practical opportunity to talk to a young and often compulsorily self-employed audience about the trial of tax without PAYG. This was a cultural opportunity to esteem a young woman so sober and informed about the realities of life as a professional object. These opportunities were not taken. The experience of this young insecure worker was dismissed.

In recent days, the great anus that discloses the worst hopes of Rupert Murdoch has been dismissing Wilkinson and her failure to deliver value for money. This is just guestimation, and especially silly when we consider how handsomely Rupe subsidises his unsuccessful favourites. You want to start talking about things that lose money? Well, permit us entry to the ledgers of The Australian, or Sky News and its attendant expense even a telly habitué like me can’t justify, Foxtel. Twenty bucks a month for a movie package that seems to feature only Ali G and “tasteful” erotic thrillers. I can’t imagine I’m the only person saying no.

So, the fault of The Project is not Wilkinson’s. Yes, I have wasted time and skin-tone in worrying about the roles played, even if unwittingly, by the journalist. That of warrior for equal pay ticked me off particularly. But not because I take the implicit News Corp view that ladies are just not cut out to be paid as well as men. It is because a majority of Australian workers are not cut out to be paid so very poorly. (Look at the “median” weekly income, dear reader. The “average” is not useful at all.) This amplifies the nonsense that wealth will trickle down from the few to the many. This is really some appalling maths. And, no. It’s not me resenting one woman’s good fortune. It’s simply an objection to wealth inequality. Women can have these, you see.

The Project doesn’t address the interests of its audience, which in many cases is its survival. It’s all Inspiring Individual and Heartbreaking Story and reminders to kids not to do drugs.

Broadcasters could as well. Broadcasters who purportedly offer news fit for youth would, I suggest, do nothing but gain market share in so doing. Young people are poor as all get out and destined to remain so. They’ve got Buckley’s of buying a house and they’re entering a labour market that shifts and shrinks when it pleases. There’s something that can happen to a person who fears for their survival. They can become quite interested in understanding the threat.

Like so much news, The Project just doesn’t address the interests of its audience, which really must be in many cases its survival. It’s all Inspiring Individual and Heartbreaking Story and reminders to kids not to do the drugs, because you never know what’s in them. FFS. That’s precisely why many of us have taken or will take the drugs. An effing relief from the predictable remonstrations of a bunch of old-seeming turds telling us all to behave.

I believe that there are those among the seventy or so hosts of The Project that might be considered “young”. I can’t be sure, as I (a) have very poor eyesight and (b) am rather old. Ergo, that Hamish fellow looks to me like a kid yet to independently file his first tax return. But, he does sound a bit like a school principal. Waleed Aly is also, I think, quite young, but nonetheless sounds like the older gifted alum Hamish the principal paid to give an inspirational speech one lunchtime. Carrie Bickmore looks ageless and rather lovely. She sounds like the most lenient member of the Australian Parents Council. And Lisa Wilkinson. Well, there’s a reason that agreeable head has been so long seen on camera. Would that I looked half as good. But, honestly. In the auditorium of “youth”, she must be heard as an authoritative voice from the Department of Education. It makes me feel almost down with the kids. Well, just as down as one needs to be not to say the words “Netflix and Chill” in public.

Perhaps, like true abhorrence The Hack Live, the function of The Project is to offer oldies a false glimpse of The Kids with whom one has no intention of being down.

Look. Maybe Ten has truly given up on its “youth news” mission. I reckon this might be the case. Perhaps, like true abhorrence The Hack Live, its function is to offer oldies a false glimpse of The Kids with whom one has no intention of being down. I guess the best measure of this would be to watch the piece of shit live and see the advertisers. I will never remember to do this. But, I can note that the shitty app plays ads for mortgage providers.

All the young people able to acquire a mortgage these days are featured prominently in the pages of Rupert’s press. Their function is to shame the many who will never own a home. The function of The Project is a mystery. Maybe it’s to “inspire” older women like me that we too can have a wealth that is equal to Lisa’s.

In short, I wouldn’t bother watching the thing. Or thinking about it for even half as long as I have.

28 responses to “The problem with Ten’s The Project is youth

  1. Jeez….I am agreeing with some of Helen’s spray again.

    Wilkinson lost me when she commentated some years ago on a Royal Wedding (was it Wills & Kate?), seated in the 9 Studio with what looked like a dead grouse on her head. She then proceeded to try naming the guests as they filed into the Cathedral.

    Having identified a rather large suntanned gentleman as a celebrity entertainer (whose name I forget), she was tugged on the sleeve and told by her co-host that the gent was in fact the King of Tonga.

  2. It’s not Marxist to tell the truth, it’s just right! The Project is a little bit of nonsense, like fairy floss , it was better when Charlie was on it , but it’s what I call a ” Giggle GabbbleFest” there are a lot of them about at the moment on the ABC too , The Project could be a good medium but if Rove is behind it ,well there you have the most unfunny person on the planet , he failed in the US ,they sent him back to us , but he must have connections because he has a new show coming onto Ch10, If you repaint your shop and renovate it or your brothel or if you make your living as a model and want to maintain your appearance to stay in work , it’s a no brainer it should be a legimate TAX DEDUCTION !!!

  3. Don’t know about The Project, as I never watch the commercial channels, but at my advanced age (hurtling towards 70) I enjoy the youth-oriented The Feed on SBS. It has well-made, intelligent, segments on various current issues, and is often very amusing.

  4. Now Jeff, the Project is subject to commercial and corporate imperatives the same as any commercial enterprise is. As for Aly, he is intelligent, educated and articulate. Just where is this hypocrisy you refer to? Or are you confused by irony and wit? Don’t forget, this program is intended as a light hearted look at current events and has improved immensely since the light weight Rove moved on.

  5. Love your articles Helen. However, ar the risk of sounding like an aging, grumpy old Marxist, I must take issue with your defence of said young female model. I do watch the Project as I’m a news and information addict who tries to access this information from as wide a source as possible. Hence my appreciation of the ‘Project’ which I started watching when Rove left the panel.

    I can’t recall the interview you refer to but if it was about a ‘model’ wanting my hard earned taxes to subsidise their vanity issues, I can appreciate the Project’s response. Since when have ‘Marxists’ felt the need to defend the interests of the lumpenproletariate? And I do include so called ‘celebrities’ in this class of criminals, prostitutes and other assorted self serving opportunists (Murdoch’s shock jocks for example), who have always been a reactive force in any progressive movement against the worst aspects of capitalism.

    That being said, I do look forward to reading your prolific and thoughtful insights into the world we live in and the human condition.

    1. Sex work is a legitimate form of employment. Sex workers ought to be able, under current conditions, claim deductions including condoms. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter if you like the trade or not.
      If we legislated based entirely on morality, then we’d be screwed.
      You know. I am not fond of open cut coal mines. I think they do far more damage than a model. But, I will not object to the deductions a worker in that industry makes.
      Get off your high horse. It’s not the right place to talk about tax.

      1. When I step off my high horse I have to accept your defence of sex work, but only to a certain extent. In a classic libertarian Marxist concept of an egalitarian society, sex would be free and not for sale. However, in a society subject to widespread exploitation and subjugation, and subject to the market forces of capitalism, people sometimes need to survive by whatever means possible.

        I am also happy for my tax dollars being spent on cosmetic surgery for people with particular disabilities or injuries that necessitate this in order for them to maintain a normal life. However, I don’t believe that ‘models’ have a cogent argument.

        Considering the superficial values of capitalist society, all workers could improve their employment opportunities by increasing their so called ‘attractiveness’. Just where do you draw the line? Have you seen photos of those young Russian women who have altered their appearances to look like a Barbie Doll?

        Good luck to models who are putting this tax concession argument forward. However, it is easy for all of us to argue for tax handouts but not so easy to raise the tax revenue and I don’t see too many models fighting to see the rich pay their fair share of tax or taking on global companies who pay no tax at all. It seems to be all about ‘them’.

        The Project’s response seems reasonable to me under the circumstances.

        1. “I don’t see too many models fighting to see the rich pay their fair share of tax” – Is that really the minimum requirement in order for an individual to advocate for change? I am skeptical you apply that rule consistently.

          And just where do we draw the line? Certainly we don’t draw it arbitrarily based on your prudishness. Any job which (legally) refers to physical attributes in it’s selection criteria should be eligible for deductions in order to meet those physical attributes.

          And finally, ram the whole “my tax dollars” crap up your jacksy – it literally makes no sense. A deduction is where a person pays less tax on a portion of income that they’ve earned because they used some of that income in order to do their work(therefore the income did not correlate with an improvement in their own financial position).

          What you are actually saying is “I don’t want them to reduce the amount of tax dollars they pay because I think models either need to be pretty enough before any cosmetic surgery or they should have to pay out of their post-tax income any overheads relating to their work.”

        2. “In a classic libertarian Marxist concept of an egalitarian society, sex would be free and not for sale.” Really? Sex is free if someone is prepared to let you, or wants you, to enjoy their physical appeal. If no one wants you, you go without. Or buy it. One person gets money, the other pleasure, which seems a sensible commercial transaction. To enable free sex for everyone, some would have to be forced to have sex with people they don’t like. You may be an idealist, and a Marxist, because you don’t understand supply and demand, nor everyone’s right to freedom of choice.

  6. As a good Marxist, Helen knows that while shows about the evils of the system (there was a good one that was on at 10pm on ABC on Sunday nights that featured Piketty and that genius Graeber) would appeal to da yoof, the station owners wouldn’t want the kiddies getting bad ideas, let alone the admen.

    Seen the one about the “negative” union billboard?

    1. Piketty is a soft neo-lib who just wants to reform things a bit.
      Graeber is an anarchist. (I can’t wait for his new book, actually.)
      These are not Marxist positions, to be clear.
      Still. I do like Graeber.

  7. I have watched The Project on only a few occasions and each time I was struck by the sheer hypocrisy of the presenters – particularly that bloke Aly. Doesn’t matter what the topic of discussion, they all seem to be hell-bent on appeasing their masters lest they upset the ad revenue stream. Trouble is, if such a programme was to air on the SBS, it would be so PC that it would challenge some of those commercial (un)reality shows. What a pity the networks didn’t put their money into serious drama that depicts real Australian society (and I’m not talking about these crap shows about underbellies etc)

    PS ‘Underbelly’ – a term coined by Truman Capote but I doubt there’s ever been any acknowledgement of this on the ‘must see’ programme.

    1. Please, Mr McMahon, “Underbelly” (all seven series of the franchise) is “must see” Aussie television – as good a series of programmes as anything produced in Australia. Contemporary serious drama (especially the early series); realistic portrayal; Aussie culture. So what if it was Truman Capote or Peter Coyote who coined the term (has this really never been acknowledged?) , the proof of the show is in the watching of it.

  8. Newsreaders are more clothes models than journalists. Blonde sexy weather girls deliver us supposedly the greatest challenge facing us – weather. No one would say anything on the screen resembles any “golden age” at the moment. I’m really surprised how much kids are into conspiracy theories. They really deeply question institutions and the media is in no way equipped to deal with really getting under the surface of anything anymore. Righteous indignation is not what youth want. They want the truth, and will rush to it. But that doesn’t help grease the wheels of the corporate machine, b/c everything is about the corporate dollars now – they/re the ones with all the cash after all. Poor Rup and all the media bosses are facing an inconvenient truth about their industry and what resonates in the future. No more cash for comment, no more subversive agendas.

  9. Good piece, Helen. I have enjoyed your particular slant on all things cultural / political in Oz since the Triple J afternoon show in the 90’s.

    I do watch The Project, which initially was ‘different’. It seems to have become quite mild and not as relevant to its target audience. Interestingly, each of the hosts has their own gig, and they can be more than forthright in that context. Is it that the show has become more entertainment than news and political commentary?

    I was in NZ the past few weeks, and their version was much more edgy, as a lot of NZ TV is won’t to be. I haven’t forgotten that Rove is at the helm and no doubt has some editorial influence, however it doesn’t seem to have had as much as an impact in NZ.

    Is it time to shake them up a bit and get them to do a piece on their relevance? I think they’d be up for it. Otherwise they would just be proving your point.

  10. Hahaha, Fred certainly walked into the wrong bar.
    And dear Helen, you describe The Project well; it tries hard to be both relevant and funny but ends up being a bit try-hard and preachey.
    I am not a Marxist but very much appreciate you’re relentless raging against the many ills, shortcomings, and downright evils of capitalism.
    I look forward to admiring you for many years to come.
    Cheers, M

  11. Love your outrage, Helen. But you didn’t mention The Project’s unctuous interviews of the ‘stars’ of Survivor, or The Bachelor, or other reality shows that me have either turning over to the affluent horror of Antiques Roadshow, or contemplating suicide in despair of the human condition.

  12. Fred,
    Don’t worry there are plenty of places in the Aussie media you can go and have your views echoed back at you.

  13. I have never watched The Project and now, thanks to this article, have the supreme thrill of knowing I was Right All Along. Thanks Helen.

  14. Daily Review ?? I thought at last I’ve found a balanced news website with intelligent opinion. Until I read this and found another left leaning news site….a la the age, guardian, crikey, new daily ,cetc….
    Not left leaning ??? Its not hard to spot. Get stuck into Rupert is a staple. As is foul language (much easier to emphasise your point) and several other give always. Oh well. :-(

      1. Chortle! Chuckle! Middle aged enjoyment from your response to Fred’s comment Helen.

        Anyhow, you don’t have to be Marxist or even centrist to work out what Uncle Rupe gets up to. There are some wags in the current Government who refer to one of more of his publications as the ‘Government Gazette’.


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