November 24, 2003


"We really do need our own stories for our own wellbeing as a nation, and in order to keep us what we are," writes David Williamson in today’s round of Australian culture-begging. "Keep us what we are"? No, the reason Williamson and the rest of our subsidised story-tellers want to maintain protection of their, er, "industry" is to keep them as they are: quarantined from market and social forces that would otherwise compel them to come up with better ideas, or get work in fields more commensurate with their abilities.

Williamson is tall. He could stock shelves.

Besides, isn’t the desire to “keep us what we are” just a little ... conservative? Don’t these people always rail against the repressive Australia of the 1950s, an era they see reproduced under the present reich of John Howard? Don’t they demand change? In his Australia Day speech, Williamson didn’t sound very happy with the status quo he now seeks to maintain:

What it means to be an Australian in 2003 is apparently to put one's head in the sand and, like the rest of the world, decide to ignore patent reality. Or even worse, to be complicit in the unfolding disaster.

I'm alarmed at the way the world is heading at present - greed and envy pushing us towards what could be an eventual terrible reckoning. And I'm alarmed that we're such an enthusiastic little helper in the whole process.

Down with greed and envy! Remove subsidies to greedy local culturekeepers who envy the abilities of foreign artists and want to keep this market all to themselves!

(Oh, and John Spooner’s depiction of “an Australian free trade negotiator” shows just how perverse this debate has become. Apparently free trade will turn us into a Gitmo.)

Posted by Tim Blair at November 24, 2003 10:41 AM

Mate, that would be David Williamson...I think :)

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at November 24, 2003 at 10:51 AM

Do you mean David Williamson?

Posted by: Lawrei at November 24, 2003 at 11:01 AM

My God, imagine a play by John Williamson ...

Thanks for the update. Fixed.

Posted by: tim at November 24, 2003 at 11:02 AM

I'd far rather see a play by John Williamson than hear David Williamson sing Old Man Emu.

But then again, seeing him sing True Blue, on stage at La Mama, to an audience of aging lefty Melbourne University types would be ... entertaining.

Posted by: ilibcc at November 24, 2003 at 11:24 AM

I think that like so many practising or former Lefties (myself included) Williamson's notion of the not-to-be-changed ideal society was formed in the seventies, some time between the Moratorium and the Dismissal, somewhere around the Albion pub and the Esplanade Hotel.

Bliss was it that dawn to be alive
but to be young was very heaven

Not by accident, that was the exact moment that the movement to fossilise Australian culture started to gather momentum. eg Film schools, arts grants etc
This has had some achievements, Gibson, Kidman, Noyce, Weir, but these folks are so talented they would have made it anyway.
I am for keeping local content rules to discourage US dumping, but for doing away with grants and subsisdised arts.
In general, a grants-driven culture just increases the competition for, invariably scarce, funds.
Thus encouraging bureacratic talent at the expense of artistic talent.
Pub rock and Aussie rules have more popular support than films, owing to the fact that they have to win and keep an audience.
(just like blogs)
They speak with an authentic Australian voice.
They also reflect the reality of Australia's booze-driven culture of recreation.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at November 24, 2003 at 11:37 AM

I actually think he makes some OK points here about what it means to see TV and movies that are set in your own culture, but if he really wants to be a missionary for that result, surely the key thing is to produce things that people actually want to watch.

If that happens, then the funding side kind of takes care of itself.

After all, pretty much by definition, you only need government support to produce things that you don't think people will be willing to pay market price to see.

Posted by: Mork at November 24, 2003 at 11:38 AM

What are all these great shows they want to protect? Australian Idol? Burkes Backyard?

There are only about 4 shows that aren't cheap shit "reality" shows. Audience demand for Australian content would ensure these are still made.

In any case are we supposed to miss out on a huge chance of expanding our exports just to prop up this small bunch of whingers?

I'd like to give them a two word message that encourages them to procreate in a distant location. (Hint: The second word is "off".)

Posted by: Michael Gill at November 24, 2003 at 12:44 PM

More mindless uninformed crap appears on Australia's leading crapblog at shitville.

Exactly what exports are we going to miss out on by keeping a few film makers in business.

Do you really think the US has any intention of ending its subsidies to farmers. Fuck Tim how utterly stupid are you. Did you learn nothing in America. Or were you too busy listening to your fan club tell you what a great guy you are.

If there is one group of bludgers on the rest of us taxpayers who need to be shoved overboard it's the fucking farmers. How much more money can the taxpayers give them to prop up their failed businesses.

Again Tim fucks up the bigger story of inefficient Australian industries sucking at the public tit. Show me a farmer anywhere who hasn't got his hand out for more government money.

Learn to read Tim, it might open your eyes to the real story and make a real journalist out of you yet.

Posted by: crock of tim at November 24, 2003 at 01:16 PM

The film-makers are more productive than the farmers?

I'd be surprised if the ratio of subsidy to output was higher for farmers/agriculture/rural industry than for film-makers.

Posted by: ilibcc at November 24, 2003 at 01:19 PM

I love your argument technique, lunchload. Let's see, it goes like this:

(Tim blogs something.)

"You're stupid! Poo poo bawawawahh!"

(Tim blogs something.)

"You're a stupid poopoohead! Babababababa!"

(Tim blogs something.)

"Baba boo boo nonny nonny! Shit shit shit! Hahahaha!"

Yep, those are some devastating argumentative techniques. I hope you are taking notes Tim!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 24, 2003 at 01:24 PM

You should know all about stupid comments Andrea, I'm yet to read anything substantive by you about any issue on Shitville ever.

Posted by: crock of tim at November 24, 2003 at 01:27 PM

Coming from you I'll consider that a compliment, considering what you seem to think is "substantive." And... tread carefully. Your fifteen minutes are almost up.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 24, 2003 at 01:30 PM

I think a new lobby group needs to be formed -

Artists for Assimilation

Posted by: Mike Hunt at November 24, 2003 at 01:37 PM

I bet "Crock of Tim" is in the "yartz industry." You can tell by his erudite arguments.

Posted by: uburoi at November 24, 2003 at 01:53 PM

or academia

you can tell by the way he/she wields words like 'substantive', never seen outside a university exam paper question, or maybe sometimes on The Age op-ed page when paired with the word 'issues'

Posted by: ilibcc at November 24, 2003 at 02:06 PM


Posted by: roscoe at November 24, 2003 at 02:11 PM

Heh heh. Done. (Now let's see what IP and nom-de-stupide he comes up with next.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 24, 2003 at 02:15 PM

I'll be back.....

Posted by: crock of tim at November 24, 2003 at 02:47 PM

If David Williamson means by Australian drama, more crap like Marking Time, then give me Dude Who Stole my Car, any day. At least it's not pretentious.

Posted by: Freddyboy at November 24, 2003 at 02:57 PM

Dude, Who Stole My Generation more likely from Davo.

Posted by: ilibcc at November 24, 2003 at 03:01 PM

All Australian films since mad max have bored the shit out of me. Rabbit Proof Fence my fucking ass. Welcome to Woop Woop, welcome to my dick.

This lefty crop of subisidised whiners we call the modern Australian film makers can just go broke or piss off to Hollywood and try make it there like everyone else.

Posted by: Amos at November 24, 2003 at 03:09 PM

But M. le Croque, you didn't change your name? Do we have to do all your work for you?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 24, 2003 at 03:38 PM

I notice Crikey and AFR are also against the "leftie actors, etc"...

Will they be back in your good books?

Posted by: Savvas Jonis at November 24, 2003 at 06:18 PM

What David Williamson is really about is maintaing his RIGHT to have OUR money used to fund HIS pet causes and projects and fund HIS harbour-front lifestyle.

In other fields of human endeavour, a professional (if you could call Williamson that) would need to have something (a play) which other people (the audience) would want to pay their own good money for (but a ticket).

Not so in "Willo-world" where a benign dictatorship of hand-picked intellectuals have apparently been given some sort of supreme authority to decide what is morally and politically correct and what is not.

Well F*%K Williamson and his Australia-hating cronies from the "Yartz" community.

They are free to write and do whatever they like - just don't expect me to gladly give over my taxes to pay for it or to stand by while they hold the rest of the economy to ransom to maintain their comfy lifestyle!


Posted by: The_GOP_Elephant at November 24, 2003 at 09:24 PM

Strange. He notes that middle America is supposedly uncomfortable with any kind of social friction as though this were a negative trait.

Wouldn't the same sentiments apply to any healthy society? In any event, the fact so many U.S films focus on some of these very tensions indicate that they can't be all that uncomfortable with portraying it, for whatever reason.

I'd be interested to see these psychological studies he refers to. It's irritating to see such a broad generalisation made with no evidence provided.

It's a bad idea to automatically assume that you're superior to anyone else, it's a great way to set yourself up for a fall. Generalisations are stupid and lazy. All of them!:)

Sure, I'd like to see more Aussie content, but not simplistic propaganda whose message I don't agree with and that I have to pay for.

In the end, I'll watch a film or a television show because I think it's good. Not because the people who made it come from the same country as me and think that they know anything about me or that they can teach me anything as a result of that.

Posted by: gaz at November 25, 2003 at 02:54 AM

"The Club" was funny though.

Posted by: Jonny at November 25, 2003 at 05:05 AM

The best line Williamson ever wrote was "you long, thing streak of shit." Autobiographical, obviously.

Posted by: suberboot at November 25, 2003 at 08:22 AM

Has anybody else noticed the similarity between the Margoyle and Williamson? Both are tall, both thin, both ugly as a hatfull of arseholes, both get out of their depth in parking lot puddle and couldn't find their arse in the bathtub with both hands and a flashlight.

Posted by: Todd at November 25, 2003 at 09:01 AM


Posted by: crock of tim at November 25, 2003 at 09:27 AM

Several of David Williamson's more recent plays (Dead White Males & Heretic for instance) are actually critiques of left-wing ideology (nature v nurture, post-structuralism, feminism) - they're not the most brilliant pieces of theatre ( characters are puppets for ideas), & not as good as his earlier works, but I think as far as the artz community goes, DW is considered fairly conservative....

Posted by: wen at November 25, 2003 at 09:35 AM

Several of David Williamson's more recent plays (Dead White Males & Heretic for instance) are actually critiques of 'left-wing' ideology (nature v nurture, post-structuralism, feminism) - they're not the most brilliant pieces of theatre ( characters are puppets for ideas), & not as good as his earlier works, but I think as far as the artz community goes, DW is considered fairly conservative....

Posted by: wen at November 25, 2003 at 09:36 AM

sorry 'bout that - but you could play spot the difference!

Posted by: wen at November 25, 2003 at 09:37 AM

Oh dear. It looks like the site just ate up poor little crock of tin's (sic) comment. Too bad... And his latest IP address has been banned again. Ain't life a crapshoot?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 25, 2003 at 09:38 AM

-- you really are a pathetic cybercop Andrea. you and Lisa Oldfield should do lunch at least once a week --

Packer's Mate Howard

The US has many restrictions on actors working in the US - just ask Canadians. It has restrictions on ownership of TV broadcasters - just ask Murdoch.

And of course it has endless restrictions on agricultural imports. There is simply no way George W Bush is going to give up ALL of America's agricultural market restrictions and farming subsidies so a bunch of Hollywood liberals can sell more TV programming in Australia.

This a manufactured story by Howard to create division in Australian society in the lead up to the next election. This is classic Howard.

Howard hates most of Australia's film makers and actors. Loathes the ground they walk on. I can barely think of a time Howard has sought a photo op with a single Australian film industry person - he even steers clear of our Nicole.

The TV channel owners are different of course. Pigs like Packer go with the game of politics and Howard has no choice but to suck up to Packer with all sorts of legal and regulatory favoritism.

Look at the fucking TV ownership laws in Australia. On the Adam Smith ledger of domestic economic reform, reforming TV licensing comes way ahead of letting a few more hours of crappy TV from America onto our TV network cartels.

It's Packer and the TV stations that want to end any content controls on TV programming. It's much much cheaper to buy another show about lawyers in America than make local content. Even when the domestic market favours locally produced shows. Yes you dickheads. Go do some research and you'll find that the same is true all over the world with people wanting more local content about their soap opera lives. But again idiots like Blair who can't read more than the headline are not interested in conveying the whole story via his crapblog.

Blair just plays the game Howard has set and goes along with the latest beat up, which may yet prove very handy in next year's election.

Let's paint the failure of a free trade agreement on the greedy taxpayer-funded film makers and their prissy actors. Meanwhile, the poor suffering farmers are missing out.

Fuck you people are idiots. The farmers are drowning in taxpayer funded subsidies that prop up inefficient businesses. America does this, France does it, and Australia does it as well with billions pumped into hidden farming subsidies and support.

Howard is even going to give them the water rights for free. For every other mineral and resource the Crown owns it in Australia and licences any extraction of such resources.

But for the newly self-appointed President of Australia he can now give away Crown rights at will. Which also explains why he would cut 4000 islands out of Australia migration zone, and from inclusion in one of the most basic aspects of sovereignty and then wonder why illegal fisherman end up winning in some High Court challenge in the year's ahead. But that can be just blamed on activist judges making law.

Howard is a politician and he does not give a fuck about Australia. He cares only about winning the next election.

And Tim Blair you as a so called Libertarian should know that to be an indisputable fact. But you ain't no Libertarian, your just a proto-fascist on third base waiting for your marching orders. Why else would you subsume so much of your liberty to fucks like Howard and Bush.

Up The Trolls!

Posted by: crock of tim at November 25, 2003 at 10:28 AM

He hates farmers, why? They grow food. And food is, yep, LUNCH!!
Amos, Gettin' Square is a pretty good flick. And Wenham's scene in the commission is the best performance I've seen by an Oz actor.

Posted by: slatts at November 25, 2003 at 10:43 AM

so you like paying taxes to the government to give to farmers.

way to go - nothing like a right winger wanting more taxes and more spending.

Posted by: crock of tim at November 25, 2003 at 10:56 AM

Hey, Crocker:



Didn't read.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 25, 2003 at 11:07 AM

Farm subsidies are related to entertainment subsidies how? If they are not seperate issues then my next question is why not?

Posted by: papertiger at November 25, 2003 at 11:07 AM

We can only admire Tims unique ability to infuriate left wing wankers. Keep it up sport!

Posted by: gaz at November 25, 2003 at 12:27 PM

It's so nice to see Tim wanting to have more taxes to give to farmers who can't make their businesses work. I thought you were against wasteful government spending. What happened to your devotion to Adam Smith.

Posted by: crock of tim at November 25, 2003 at 01:10 PM

What happened to your brain?

Posted by: gaz at November 25, 2003 at 02:08 PM

Just because a country is small and the cost of media presentation is large, doesn't mean that its culture should be doomed to feature the product of bigger countries which have large internal markets.

Or that its writers have to feature characters from other countries in order to reach a large enough market to make money on their ventures.

In Canada, if you want to make money, you have to cater to the American market - unless the government steps in and finances Canadian stories.

It makes sense to me. Otherwise you are living like a minority and certainly a cultural colony in your own country.

Posted by: Michael at November 25, 2003 at 11:28 PM