Australia

Have you read Miranda Devine’s article on Camilla’s parasol? Read it here. Not only is it the strangest homage to Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’, it is also immensely embarrassing to read as an Australian. Devine seems to think that our fusion powered sun is as patriotically ours as Vegemite and Emus, and that by erecting a parasol to ward off the worst of its cancer lasers, the Royal consort has spat in the faces of our children. Why do we as a country have such a strange reaction whenever somebody from overseas comes to our shores? If you’re not famous: detention centres. If you are famous: losing our tiny goddamn mothershitting minds.

Australia dealt with Obama coming to our humble shores in 2011 with all the dignity and aplomb of that girl who vomited all over herself furiously when someone dressed as Batman came to her birthday party. It wouldn’t have been so embarrassing if the same level of gormless, over-excited regurgitation didn’t occur whenever the Queen, Oprah or even that one racist prince decide to come over. For a long time, I’ve assumed our treatment of foreign celebrities – which ancient Incan gods in the middle of blood sacrifices would have declared tacky – to be because of cultural cringe. It’s long been established that we are embarrassed of our own international high-flyers – Crocodile Dundee, Steve Irwin, Schapelle Corby – and look up to foreign stars. Kim Kardashian for example, with the same starry eyed, slack jawed idolation as a toddler imitating the family Labrador.

And cultural cringe does exist in Australia, I’m not disputing that. But what people don’t understand is part of Australia’s embarrassment of their own country, stems from cultural fear. To put it frankly, Australian’s are terrified of Australia. On a basic level, the very fauna and flora seem designed to kill us. Our population centres cling to the shores like terrified mollusks  desperately ignoring the nuclear heated red centre of our country, seething with the majority of the world’s poisonous snakes and spiders. And there are millions of camels, and I saw one of them bite the face off an American tourist once. True story. And while the coastal areas are more temperate, they simply expose us to giant sharks and jellyfish and sand between your toes when you’re wearing thongs.

When I was a kid, I cross-stitched me and my friend Matthew’s names on a small pillow in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, because I’m an expressive friend and also a giant nerd. And this is still less embarrassing than Australia’s collective appreciation of Oprah’s tour of our opera facilities. But subconsciously, I think we were all in such of a lather of excitement because we are impressed with anyone who actually wants to come here. When Obama touches down in Airforce One, we just can’t fathom why he would brave the gauntlet of Crocodiles to meet us. When Oprah bellowed for us to look under our seats, our collective hearts were in our communal throats, because there were probably Redbacks mixed in with the gift packs. I’m going to be uncharacteristically optimistic and hope that Australia’s shameful demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers is actually a misguided attempt to save these poor people from the poisonous spurs of our platypuses.

Historically speaking, my theory makes perfect sense. Since the moment Australia separated itself from the mega-continent, it’s been home to things the rest of the world is better off without. If you’ve ever researched the species of mega-fauna that Australia played host to, a pantheon of truck sized wombats and tree dwelling kangaroos with razor sharp claws and guided-missile scrotum’s, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Gaia has basically been using Australia as a dumping ground for creatures too deadly or weird to exist anywhere else.

Even the British Empire – the dickiest of empires – realised that the best possible use for Australia, a country roughly a million times larger than their own withered penis of an island, was to dump all their criminals here.  Possibly lost in the mists of time and colonial outrages, is the fact that the British aristocracy was using Australia as an enormous gladiatorial contest between hardened criminals and belligerent echidnas. Like a pre-television reality show, they probably assumed one side would wipe the other out in a systematic and entertaining manner.

To this day, anyone who has experienced the scourge that is Australian tourism and its effects on another country, would have to agree that Australians should be kept inside the country. It’s not often that one debates the wisdom of inventing air travel – but watching ten shirtless bogans wearing Australian flags, singing Waltzing Matilda at 3am in Hoi An and throwing beer bottles at a pond full of carp will usually get it done.

I am terrified of Bob Katter. I once had the misfortune to strut happily into his mobile sneer while working in the Sydney ABC building. As a portion of society he refuses to believe in, he is representative to me of some of the fear I hold towards my own countrymen. Having been stuck in the middle of such nation-building events as the Cronulla riots, I know that my neighbour can be just as terrifying as a nine-foot salt water croc, wallowing in a pool of racism somewhere. In a way, Bob Katter and his giant hat fulfill the same role as the Sorting Hat in the popular Harry Potter novels. Much like being put into Slytherin, I know that anyone voting for Bob Katter  is probably an enemy of everything I stand for, and will drag their feet in helping me hunt down horcruxes. Yet, while I am scared of him, I feel virtuous in the knowledge that he is Australia’s problem. We keep him safely trapped here with the snakes, spiders and other elected officials.

Australia is and always has been, to an extent, a type of prison. Whether it’s cane toads spreading from Queensland, or  Queenslanders, Australia exists to keep these plagues within its borders. So, while we exist in perpetual fear of our country, countrymen and country music, we can at least know that unlike most countries, Australia has a purpose – because if they weren’t here, they’d be assing up somewhere else. And if this means that we act like gibbering meth-cats every time a famous foreigner comes over here, I’ll secretly understand, behind my mask of seething intolerance.

THE SCORE: 5/5

Miranda Devine

It seems to me that the readers of this blog fall into two camps. One camp likes it when I review the back of a shoe or my lack of pants or unicorn eyes. The other is Camp Granada. Hello!
Anyway, I said I wouldn’t do another review of a person for a while, but then this Miranda Devine thing happened, but it’s OK, because she’s not really a person, more like institutionalised stupidity.

THE STARS:

If you haven’t already, read Devine’s article here. Making sense of that article is like trying to play dot-to-dot on the hung, flayed and dried fur of a cheetah. It’s distasteful, offensive, cruel, illogical and completely pointless. After being summarily offended, I re-read the article with the intention of joining those dots. My critical faculties, who I imagine as a pleasantly plump retiree, sitting out in the back garden of my mind wearing cableknit, was unfortunately not up to the task. In fact, they suffered a massive heart attack and their face melted and was eaten by the tiny dogs that are my common sense and sense of ethical responsibilities. Thanks Miranda Devine, you killed my brain-pensioner.

But I wouldn’t let all that made up nonsense stand in my way! I persisted, trying to see how Penny Wong’s incipient child caused the London riots, how the presence of a penis in a family will benefit it, how being Catholic had anything to do with the patronising inspidity of the last paragraph of that article. Comprehension eluded me, until with a snap like time flowing backwards or the invention of testicles, my brain learned how to see the world like Miranda Devine does.

Oh, I get it now. It’s all coming together, like maniac soup.

It’s a world without logic or comprehension, where simply the presence of two things can logically lead to yet more unidentified objects. With all the grace and skill of a blind, whisky sick cowboy riding an enormous earthworm, Devine rounds up whatever unfortunate objects, concepts and events she can find and rustles them into the shit-stained paddock that she calls her articles.

HARD HITTING

It’s this kind of revolutionary thinking that led my fellow Twitter brethren @Flyfromadream to make the link between ‘journalist’ Miranda Devine and south Sydney train station, Miranda Station.  Most normal people realise that the only connection between the two is one of proper nounery, but not with the patented Devine way of thinking. Is Miranda Devine a train station in disguise, and if so, what is her secret agenda? Was Miranda Devine a train station first, or did she eventually devolve in a platform for teenagers from the Shire to disembark upon so that they can shop in the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere?

LACK OF STARS:

Maybe this isn’t a new way of thinking. Maybe her way of drawing connections between entirely separated events is exactly what it looks like – a spurious attempt at writing relevant journalism by a bitter, conservative, homophobic, relic from the unenlightened past. Maybe. But if anyone was to ever embody the ideals and writing style of a train station from the Shire, it would have to be Miranda Devine. What was my point again? Oh yeah. The riots. I’m so against them.

THE SCORE:

0/5. I need to review something favourably next, I’m beginning to feel… dirty.

Fred Nile

There’s a host of great articles about Fred Nile swanning around the internet at the moment. Many of these are witty, erudite, informative and relevant. I felt like I needed to contribute some kind of honking, goose-like piece to balance the spectrum.

THE STARS:

In these confusing times, it’s often helpful to think of government as the cast from the hit Christian television show, 7th Heaven. This is because Fred Nile is already officially the Father of the House in the House of Representatives and because he truly does think he is that patronising, dead-eyed father from 7th Heaven, doling out unwanted advice to his terrified children. But instead of the feel-good plotlines about less-hot daughter trying her darndest to help a rambunctious African-American basketballer find Jesus, we have Father Nile taking Bob Brown to electro-shock therapy and counselling Julia Gillard about her living in sin issues.

This of course hinges on the premise that you are vaguely familiar with Australian politics AND the television show 7th Heaven. If you aren’t, you’re a lucky person and should immediately flee to some kind of Mexican desert and be absolutely blissful in your ignorance. Also, he has wizard eyebrows.

The world of men shall fall. Because that sounds really gay.

LACK OF STARS:

Throughout life we choose our insanities. Some people call them hobbies, others pastimes, some people have beliefs and others have faith. The wonderful thing about all this is that people come together, drawn by the same dangerous behaviour and celebrate it together. For me and my friends it revolves around our sick fascination with the written word. For Fred Nile it was his far-out superstitious belief in the bearded sky man who made us all (TM). Yet, it came to a point where a large group of other bearded sky-man devotees decided his views were too strange. Largely this issue centred around his insistence on taking a book of compiled oral myths, histories and symbols completely – and un-ironically – literally.

For some reason, we still allow this man to represent portions of us via democratic means. I’d like to see how seriously I’d be taken if I was a Tolkien literalist. If I sashayed through parliament speaking Quenyan Elven at Kevin Rudd, and shooting arrows at Bronwyn Bishop. Is it because the Bible is older than Lord of the Rings? Whatever, I know what I prefer, and I know which has a clearer ethical arc. That’s shit that you can believe in, throw the damn ring in the volcano.

The tragedy is that so vehement and virulent is Fred Nile’s literalist belief in a world of women turning into salt pillars, and whores who wash hippie’s feet for free, that a strange phenomenon occurs.

I MISS YOU NATASHA STAR DESTROYER.

This phenomenon is called Nileism, where people who may have held on to some belief of their own, usually ancillary or oppositional to Fred Nile’s, will be so distraught and distressed by coming into contact with Father Fred, that they will cease to believe in anything at all. It’s like a missionary travelling to an island and preaching a complete lack of conversion, a negative, a void. Things they might have once held up as truths were now devalued by a man who honestly believed an ancient Jewish dude could turn water into wine. (IF THERE IS ANY HINT OF THIS OCCURRING, I AM SIGNING UP TO THE CRAZY BRIGADE).

THE SCORE:

0/5

Love, Patrick.

Bob Katter

The snarling, atavistic voice of the Australian people: provided those people live on farms in Queensland and don’t enjoy sodomy, immigration or a lack of greenhouse gases.

THE STARS:

After the political upheaval that was the hung parliament of Australian politics, the balance of power somehow got passed to the hands of an eccentric band of misfits known as the Independents. Bound together only by their inability to agree with anyone else about anything, their presence in mainstream politics has been like a breath of weird air.

And that’s where Bob Katter comes in.

There’s a chance I don’t believe in you.

There’s a big part of me that really enjoys the sheer batshit insanity that his presence entails. The other part of me is a traumatised and whimpering ball that is sad for my country of origin. The fact that we have to seriously listen to a man who threw eggs at the Beatles and who flat out refuses the existence of homosexuals in north Queensland is a tier of absurdity rarely scaled. However the most absurd part of the Katter phenomenon is that I trust him more than Tony Abbott. I mean, he’s the kind of crazy where you can predict to an extent what he is going to be crazy about. Abbott is just a snake.

LACK OF STARS:

If the eighties taught me anything, it’s that the people dressed like cowboys are usually minor characters with bad accents and a lack of anything resembling character development.

I love the episode where Helicopter Pilot confronts his fear of lakes
and also goes in search of  his alcoholic mother.

During the eighties, Katter was one of the cronies of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Undying Lich Lord of Queensland. Their dread government helped inflict conservative politics on the state for decades. Some say Bjelke-Petersen will rise again. Some say he never died. Others believe he lives on in Pauline Hanson’s womb.
But the fact is, that the Mad Katter was clearly one of those situations where a minor character outlives the main villain, and then is quickly forced to develop into a real human being. Clearly this meant seven layers of insanity.
And now that he is rising to fill the dread throne of Petersen, he has begun gathering his own sinister force, under the banner of ‘Katter’s Australian Party’. Villains from around Australia are slowly pledging their support.
And the question on everybody’s lips: where is Batman in our time of need?

THE SCORE:
1/5 stars. He may be crazy and evil, but maybe rural Australia needs a crazy evil voice to stand up for them in their time of need. They are suffering many, many plagues. I may be a latte sipping inner-city vest wearing phoney, but I’ve seen Landline.