November 25, 2003


Debate over our handout-demanding film industry continues. Here’s Paddy McGuinness:

The truth is that most of our films are no bloody good ... Film stars are notoriously ill-educated and ignorant - their opinions are worthless, regardless of their talents.

Sophie Masson writes:

Lazy assumptions – Australia is uniquely racist – and shallow talk about how we are useless culturally and politically due to following the war on terrorism or John Howard, combined with claims of New Zealand's superiority as a film culture, citing The Lord of the Rings, seem to dramatise exactly the kinds of attitudes that are making audiences turn away from our films.

Why should film be protected, asks Gerard Henderson:

There is a case for preserving an Australian film industry. Yet film is but one cultural medium. Those who tell Australian stories in print, fiction and non-fiction authors alike, are not protected from overseas competition. No exception can be made for film.

And Martin McAvenna reviews Friday’s AFI awards telecast:

Ladies and gentlemen, if this debacle was representative of the best we can do, no wonder you want protection to continue. Get over it. Do something about it.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 25, 2003 11:42 AM

As usual timmy the dummy leaves out half the story.

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 12:04 PM

Let's hear it for reasoned debate and good speeling

Posted by: procrustes at November 25, 2003 at 12:12 PM




Didn't read.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 25, 2003 at 12:22 PM

Hey Crock-Pot, if there is so much demand for local production, why does it have to be mandated by legislation?

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

I'm a so-called libertarian?

Posted by: tim at November 25, 2003 at 12:30 PM

It's all well and good to say that films from all countries can compete equally but it's very hard for foreign films to get into the US market due to the language barrier, which is reinforced by the dominance of a few small theater chains and so on. Thus the largest single market is itself "protected" in a sense, and only English-speaking countries have even a chance of making films which could--

WAIT A MINUTE! Australians speak English! Quick, someone check and see if any Australian actors or directors have been successful in cracking the American market, would you?

Posted by: Mike G at November 25, 2003 at 12:30 PM

Terry McCrann in today's Melbourne Herald Sun has a great take on the film 'industry' and the FTA.

He also mentions a weblogger called Tom Blair. Anyone know him?

It's not online, but he starts:

'The self-appointed keepers of our national and cultural identity showed exactly what story they want to preserve, with their succession of nauseating displays at the film awards Friday night.

'It is the great Aussie story of: "I'm all right Jacko, here's two fingers to you. I've got this cosy little tax-payer funded rort; and I don't give a stuff if preserving it does you out of a job, forces you off the farm or denies the country more general growth, investment and jobs."

'In their vomit-inducing 'appeals' to John Howard - the person they all despise in their deepest depths, for not being Paul Keating - the succession of 'celebrities' had one simple, utterly selfish message.

'Any Free Trade Agreement with the US had to be conditional on what they - the cultural "elite" - deemed necessary to "preserve" the ability to tell "Australian" stories with Australian "voices".'

Et cetera. Then he concludes in superlative Terry McCrann style:

'Piss off.'

Posted by: ilibcc at November 25, 2003 at 12:49 PM

There is no protection of films in Australia, content controls are do with TV programming which say that TV owners in control of a cartel market must show x hours of local programming. You can show as many hours of American films in Hoyts as the owners of these cinemas want to show.

Also it was a former Tory who started the subsidy program for films made in Australia. 150% tax deduction that a whole bunch of spivs then turned into a tax dodge.

This is just another misinformed debate by people pretending to support free trade. How about domestic free trade for a start. When is Howard going to allow more commercial TV licenses.

Come on Tim get out there and fight for the free market in Australia and end all subsidies and industry protectionism. Go on tell the farmers to get off their backsides and sink or swim like the rest of us when they fail to run their businesses properly. Why should they get hand outs.

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

I've written dozens of pieces arguing against protectionism, Crocky. Agricultural, manufacturing, cultural ... you name it. Here’s a piece on US steel tariffs. Print it out and get someone to read it to you. In this piece, other protectionist issues are addressed. It's almost as though I'm some kind of free trade advocate!

Posted by: tim at November 25, 2003 at 01:23 PM

...Howard hates most of Australia's film makers and actors. Loathes the ground they walk on...

Who doesn't, Crocky?

Howard's got his finger on the pulse of our collective mood, and he knows we've all had a gutful of feel-bad movies like Rabbit Proof Fence. Do you really think Australian film makers should get a tax subsidy, to run down our country's culture and history?

Posted by: Byron the Aussie at November 25, 2003 at 01:51 PM

Fuck you people are fucking fuck. Tim Blair is...fuck john howerd... nazis er fuckinf fuck.

Up The Trolls!

Posted by: crock of tim at November 25, 2003 at 01:54 PM

Howard Bad. Bush Bad. Blair (both of them) Bad.
Crocky seems to be spouting the usual crap, and taking increasingly longer to do it.

Posted by: Jim Flair at November 25, 2003 at 01:57 PM

Of course the Australian Film industry has a fine advocate for it in the form of Toni Collett. Her fine display of advocacy came after the co-operation of BHP at their Pilbara Iron Ore Mine supporting the production of Japanese Story she turns around and called them Environmental rapists. No doubt big business will be falling over itself to assist in future productions. Nooooottttt.

Posted by: Razor at November 25, 2003 at 02:11 PM

"Quick, someone check and see if any Australian actors or directors have been successful in cracking the American market, would you?"

You know who we love in America? That Paul Hogan fellow. "G'day, Mite! Me nime's Mick Dundee!"
HA! That guy is a hoot.

Posted by: Joe Geoghegan at November 25, 2003 at 02:26 PM

"Quick, someone check and see if any Australian actors or directors have been successful in cracking the American market, would you?"

You know who we love in America? That Paul Hogan fellow. "G'day, Mite! Me nime's Mick Dundee!"
HA! That guy is a hoot.

Posted by: Joe Geoghegan at November 25, 2003 at 02:26 PM

Good to see an article by Sophie Masson. She's probably one of the more interesting of Australias conservatives; writes good articles occasionally for Quadrant on a variety of subjects (French culture, medieval society, poetry, Islamo-fascism in Indonesia) and doesn't take any political ideology for granted - she's neither wholly right-wing or left-wing.

Posted by: TimT at November 25, 2003 at 03:26 PM

You know who we love in America? That Paul Hogan fellow. "G'day, Mite! Me nime's Mick Dundee!"

Ooh, don't forget that Crocodile Hunter guy. Crikey!

Posted by: Brendan at November 25, 2003 at 04:01 PM

gee... y'know, cRock of tim may have a point there. i'll be fucked if i can find it tho.

Posted by: roscoe at November 25, 2003 at 04:15 PM

I think it's on the top of his head.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 25, 2003 at 09:43 PM

Okay, Mad Max was Australian.

Was Man from Snowy River an American film in Australia, or simply an Australian film, because it's a favorite in the US.

As someone mentioned earlier, Crocodile Dundee, and Crocodile Hunter. Gallipoli.

Perhaps it's not that Australian films can't break into America so much as the people who make the production and marketing deciscions aren't making the right choices.

The movies that made it biggest in the US are rough, not artsy. Movies that drink beer, not wine and have a few scars on their knuckles (from fights or wrenching).


Posted by: Kalroy at November 26, 2003 at 12:35 AM

As an American and a film watcher there are some stories of Australia that are keenly facinating to me that have never been told at least that I am aware of. The transition from penal colony to statehood has never been explored in any detail. That must be good for a whole trilogy or two.

Also I discovered a story on this very blog that I was blisfully unaware of. There was a terrorist group of some sort who bought some land in a desolate part of Australia to then make their own privately funded Manhattan Project. It apparently ended with a nasty mishap which was recorded on seismic graphs. True, this could have been an urban legend but that didn't stop Oliver Stone from cashing in on the supposed second gunman theory.

You make stories the public wants to watch and we will come.
PS: shoot whoever was responsible for Molin Rouge. Thanks:>

Posted by: papertiger at November 26, 2003 at 01:06 AM

"Quick, someone check and see if any Australian actors or directors have been successful in cracking the American market, would you?"

Bruce Beresford - Oscar winner for Best Picture ("Driving Miss Daisy"). Also makes of the best war movie ever filmed, "Breaker Morant" (which was a critical and popular success in the U.S.).

Russell Crowe - Oscar winner for Best Actor ("Gladiator"). Also hugely popular: who else could get U.S. audiences in to see a movie based on the Aubrey-Maturin novels?

George Miller - Oscar nominee for Best Picture ("Babe").

And on and on and on ... half the of best talent in Hollywood is Australian. And the other half is Brit or Kiwi.

Posted by: Brown Line at November 26, 2003 at 09:10 AM