In mildly troubling news, ABC TV has failed to renew comic current affairs program, Tonightly. In a statement prepared today by cheerful bot, the Abysmal Bootlicker Crew alleges that it is grateful for the efforts of Tom Ballard and writing team, but that it is time, these many weeks into the project, “for a fresh approach”.
Jesus, no. I’ve seen the “fresh approach” by the broadcaster and it has led to bigoted stories on the 7.30 Report about the Chinese appetite for dog meat, seventeen weekly shows featuring Annabel Crabb smiling about her good fortune and some unbearable news promo in which some bint screams at me that “these are the MO-ments” as a raft of smiling presenters pretend to talk about news. Including Whatsit from The Chaser, who apparently now has some sort of climate council credential. The War on Waste is not, as the broadcaster claims, a “movement” but a shit show. If I feel like being personally blamed for a problem as monumental as environmental devastation, I’ll talk to my mum, thanks.
FFS. This gutless broadcaster not only fails to meaningfully question the state, but will now rarely ask any question at all of its partner economy. Hold the profit motive responsible for climate change, or even mention the term “climate change”? Heck, no. We’d rather employ thingummy from The Chaser to tell you it’s your fault for your failure to buy a nice calico shopping bag.
The ABC’s upbeat project is very clear. Its performers, presenters and writers are permitted to loathe China, Russia and Julian Assange. All other topicsmust be approached in a buoyant, uncritical fashion.
Now, I am a person with ears and nominally functional eyes and I know, of course, that Tonightly was not excellent at all times. Early episodes were particularly awful and if one wished to know what might occur should the empty liberal whining of Samantha Bee be mated with the I Just Nailed It debate club satisfaction of Charlie Pickering, the answer was on ABC2. But. Geez. The kids were improving. Moreover, the “balance” that ABC says that it craves was present on a program that showed middle fingers of increasing dexterity to both major political parties. Even if you do not agree that the thing had improved substantially—and this is a case I would argue—how in the name of eff is young writing talent supposed to substantially improve in just a few months?
I suspect that they are not. The ABC has made its upbeat project very clear. Its performers, presenters and writers are permitted to loathe China, Russia and Julian Assange. All other topics and things must be approached in a buoyant, uncritical fashion, or on some panel show so frustrated by editorial policies, even a clearly erudite and intellectually open broadcaster like Julia Baird must make way for the fiction of “balance”—which, again, if you missed it, is not actually balance but a platform for intolerant neoliberals and tolerant neoliberals to argue about how much the other one sucks, AKA major party politics.
That the very great Micallef and his team are still occasionally permitted to make a mockery of news on the ABC is a miracle made possible only by the past. An intractable talent like that will no longer be possible in a future of “MO-ments” which find Whatsit Fitzsimmons on Foreign Correspondent. And, shut up, no. This is not even an argument about “dumbing down”. It is one about the absolute refusal to do anything “fresher” than find slightly new ways to reheat old ideas. Chief among them, a Margaret Thatcher favourite: there is no such thing as society!
There is no such thing as society, but only individuals and families. If you believe, for one minute, that this is not an “imbalanced” and explicitly political view, then you are a fundamentalist Thatcherite. And, may I interest you in the ABC’s latest Offering For von Mises Millennials, ABC Life? What a waster. Every single thing I’ve read, heard or viewed on this multi-platform Hip to The Street Beat Youth Content Vacuum is stripped of its true social context. A story on living with a disability makes no reference to prevailing social conditions that worsen disability. Multiple stories on “career success” presume that success for an immense group of people is effing possible. Just how a reporter addresses the question of work for a millennial audience without mentioning underemployment, insecure conditions and that a good portion of the poor bastards will live well into midlife with often resentful parents is beyond me. But. Hey. I guess I’m “negative” in not applauding an effing national service, for which I pay, that has largely become an escape.
Why can’t you just be nice, Helen, and why are you so bitter? Because everything is shit, you pill. If we don’t count devastating climate change, mass incarceration, extreme racism and extreme poverty, we might say that the true problem of the West is its demand that we who perceive these things shut up about them lest someone call us bitter, irrelevant or, curiously, “old” in our approach.
Tonightly made genuine and hopeful attempts to address younger viewers, who, as we know, are not all white Wonder Bread go-getters but a very diverse group of grumps.
Have you spoken with anyone between the ages of 20 and 35 recently? If you think some old cow who writes about telly and the internet for a living is negative, have a yack with one of the new, colossal underclass. Many of them are quite justifiably enraged at this shit deal, and quite a few of them, quite ignorantly, go about hating old people as though it were perimenopausal ladies like me who took their rights, and, not in, fact the effing Thatcherite political project that says, again, that there is no such thing as society. Just individuals and other families, who may take things from you. Blah blah blah don’t forget to bring your bag to buy things from The Chaser, who must have signed some crossroads deal with the broadcaster to keep them in jobs for life.
Just what impacts on millennial life was the frequent topic for fun on Tonightly, which, I imagine, is why the thing has been cancelled. I am certain that the Awful Blancmange Cowards didn’t mind the program’s use of the C-word half as much as they minded attempts to describe the neoliberal/Thatcher era and all its nativism, inequality etc in a fun way.
Tonightly made genuine and hopeful attempts to address younger viewers, who, as we know, are not all white Wonder Bread go-getters but a very diverse group of grumps. Grumps who deserve, surely, four half hours per week of light, comic explanation for a world that the ABC otherwise refuses to describe.
Save Our ABC and all of that. Save it from the inanity of itself. Save it from ABC Life, Sisyphean panel shows and a 7.30 Report which aspires to the standard set by Today Tonight.
Bye, Tonightly. I will miss that lady who got her kit off, but I’ll miss the fact of a young writers’ room finding its way most of all.
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