Pay or paid to publish?

As usual I’ve got myself into a fairly inarticulate state on Twitter over the Mamma Mia no-pay-to-publish thing. There’s a bit of history to it, just for context.

Marieke Hardy, of all people, kicked off on Twitter the other day at Mamma Mia founder Mia Freedman for not paying her contributors.

I was surprised at this. I thought MM was a pretty big site (Freedman claims 1.2m visitors) and I would have thought at least paying a nominal amount to say thanks is fair. 1.2m is a big number in the Australian web scene, so the site must be doing alright. Freedman does not appear short of a bob or the influence her position affords.

Now, nobody holds a gun to these people’s heads. Bern Morley and Meshel Laurie both stuck up for Freedman, saying it led to bigger and better things. I can believe that and am pleased it worked out for them.

Freedman then wrote a lengthy piece about how she employs a number of full and part-time writers and then casually dropped that she has “about a dozen” unpaid interns. Which, in raw numbers, doubles her staff, but they’re obviously  part time.

Still, this made me extremely uncomfortable.

Most of the writers laying into her are people who make a living being paid to write or are very close to doing so. Freedman’s counter-argument is that this is the sort of exposure money can’t buy and anyway, she’s not the only one.

She’s right, unless you’re Jamie Packer and you spend lots of money advertising in Fairfax papers.

I write for free and have done so for 20 years. The vast bulk of my writing in that time has been for zero dollars. Four hundred game reviews over several sites, (some that were in a position to pay, I might add), many film reviews and probably millions of words about Formula 1.

I’ve been paid less than $15,000 in 20 years of writing. I won a writing award in 1997 which paid, I was paid a nominal amount for a play to be toured by ATYP, a magazine article or two and now am paid regularly to write about cars. It’s a nice feeling.

I’d say about 95% of the money has come from writing about cars, if you’re interested. I am extraordinarily thankful for that. And 95% of that from a website with far fewer visitors than Freedman’s claimed audience and over the last 7 months.

(I’m not including the scripts and unpublished novels, by the way)

Anyway, the point is, there has to be a line somewhere. In fact, two. One must be drawn by the writer – how much are they willing to do for free, for how long and why are they doing it for free? Only the writer can decide this and it’s really nobody else’s business. Some say those who write for free undermine other writers, but I don’t think that holds any water because that’s not how business or publishing works.

The second is for the publisher: how much free labour am I going to harness before it gets a bit silly?

I’ve been both. I published a video game website for a few years that I inherited from an impressive younger bloke and had to be completely upfront about the fact that there wasn’t a red cent in it, despite being one of the most successful sites around at the time. I felt bad.

Thing is, I’m really lucky. I have a good income from other sources that keeps me better than well-fed and housed and clothed and I am extremely grateful for that. Writing is a hobby for me and I am always pleasantly surprised by the payments I do get.

But, because I’m an egomaniac, the reward for me is that my name is in lights or pixels or whatever and my thoughts are being read by others who don’t know me and never will. I get a kick out of that.

What I don’t get a kick out of is exploitation. Sites like Mamma Mia (and I am picking on them unfairly here and on Twitter) make a lot of money (if 1.2m is true, etc etc) and have a responsibility to check themselves. And not cry about it on TV.

The power, in the end, is with the writer. If you’re not prepared to do it for nothing, don’t. If you are, but are uncomfortable with Freedman et al, don’t write for them. That doesn’t pay the bills, but neither does The Punch or The Drum or whoever else.

What does pay the bills eventually is the exposure you get for judiciously choosing your targets and setting yourself a goal – “if I am not paid after n pageviews, I will say thanks, but I’m off.” Or whatever. It’s up to you.

I just wish it didn’t have to be this way and I don’t honestly think Freedman takes delight in not paying, she just thinks it’s the only way.

It isn’t, but she, and many others, are looking after their own financial interests.

 

I Watched The Newsroom!

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and I have come to the following conclusion about Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom.

Strap yourselves in, because I don’t think anyone else has said this about it.

Here goes. This is my opinion, and it is mine and I do not believe anyone else has expressed this.

Meh.

Seriously, just that.

Meh.

I’m not a West Winger, I watched precisely thirty seconds of Studio 60 and I have no predisposition in either direction about Sorkin’s talents as a writer.

Some of his dialogue is great, whip-crack sharp and delivered by a cast I quite like.

Some of The Newsroom is painfully expositional and deliriously earnest in its intent.

Sam Waterston is perfectly cast for that role, given his long history on Law & Order delivering some pretty dumb lines for the benefit of its brain-dead audience segment.

“Show don’t tell” is what I learned about writing for television and the theatre, Sorkin does and awful lot of telling, mostly via statistics that make my head spin.

The cast, as a whole (and I include Waterston) in my assessment, is terrific. Everybody plays their part well and the male characters are well developed if, in a few instances, irritating.

The women, unfortunately, are not well-written or developed. This probably makes their performances even better, struggling as they are under weightily sexist storylines.

They mostly seem to be rushing about trying to impress the men in the office and this drove me a bit nuts. They certainly weren’t confection or eye-candy afterthoughts, they just seemed to be there to support the male stories and their egos.

I suspect that Sorkin just doesn’t know how to write women who aren’t subservient AND unbearably masculine.

I think the crux of my ‘meh’-ness was that it just doesn’t entertain me on a sustainable level. The episodes are really up and down and are only lent tension by the event that they are covering.

The Osama Bin Laden Assassination episode was very good but was utterly ruined by a wave of self-indulgent, cloying do-gooder moments from various members team in the direction of peripheral cast expressly injected into the story to support those moments.

I can handle sentimentality but it was saccharine and ruined the show.

And that’s kind of where I left it. I went to watch episode 8 but thought, why? I know what’s coming, I know Sorkin’s position about the events that are unfolding in a media that is free from responsibility and I agree with him.

It’s an extended attack on the hollowness of modern (read Fox) news, but we get it from Mackenzie’s first production meeting with the new team. We get it.

News is crap, and dumbed down and often riddled with lies. We know, we have the same problem in almost every single English-speaking Western country that has bought into the news culture of the US.

I can’t keep nodding and saying, “Yes, so true,” without then asking, “Can we move on now?”

It kind of turned into Q&A without the right-wing troll. So extra boring, then.

Also, I don’t believe for a moment that Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy is a Republican, not for one second. Not because I despise Republicans in general (many of them are very sensible people) but because he talks like the Democrat that Sorkin obviously is.

And that’s all the show has turned out to be – a mouthpiece for Sorkin, masquerading as balanced rhetoric.

So yeah.

Meh.

This Is How It’s Done – Meet the Superhumans

My ever-patient Twitter followers have seen me banging on about this video.

It’s called Meet The Superhumans and it’s the promo for the UK’s Channel 4 coverage of the 2012 Paralympics.

I don’t mind telling you, I was completely blown away by it, and for a number of reasons.

I don’t have much truck with the whole “I’ve worked so hard to get here” schtick that most Olympics promotional stuff is full of, particularly in Australia.

Networks like to run this line that elite sport doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at it by adoring governments and billions more from adoring sponsors because it’s all down to the individual athlete and their lovely genes, isn’t it?

It’s poppycock of course, in all but the most obscure of sports. Professional athletes participating at an Olympic level have made a choice to be that person, participate and devote themselves to that sport because they were spotted as kids and had free trainers and free education thrown at them.

The Paralympics is very different. The athletes at the Paralympics have really had to fight – prejudice, ignorance and their own disability.

Meet the Superhumans nails that message home in a bold, uncompromising and unpatronising way. Nobody’s smiling warmly, there’s no blonde rich girl with sponsors dripping off her bitching about the 4am starts at the pool, it’s telling us the truth – these are people with a disability, not disabled people.

These Paralympians aren’t necessarily pretty but they’re not standing there asking for your pity or mithering applause. We see explosions in Iraq, car crashes, stumps. We see people routinely ignored by the corporate gloss of the Olympics.

We see people who really have had to work very hard indeed just to live, to survive. It’s awesome. I love it. It’s a fantastic job and it is abundantly clear that Channel 4 aren’t just along for the ride, the people running the coverage not only care but they understand.

It’s a huge leap forward for the promotion of the Paralympics and the portrayal of the people with a disability is refreshingly free from right-on politics or patronising back-patting.

Nice work, Channel 4. Nice work.

Qantas loves hating its customers

It’s almost like Qantas wants us all to hate them. It’s the only possible explanation I can come up with for an airline that has ceased to care about its customers and turned into a business run with the mentality of a bank (MOAR PROFITS! SACK MANY PEOPLE!) combined with the management mentality of a television network (VIEWAHS? WHAT ARE THEY? WE ONLY KNOW ABOUT ADVERTISAHS!)

I’ll not rake over the epic stupidity of grounding the entire airline ‘for its own good’ nor its going to war with the people that have the power in their hands to make Qantas great again – the staff. Nor will I recount the huge disaster that was #qantasluxury, one of the greatest things ever to happen on Twitter. I can’t recall having more fun in an afternoon while at the same time feeling so sorry for the members of the social media team who inevitably opposed the idea on the grounds it was colossally stupid.

Qantas took steps over the past week to have the @QantasPR account wiped from our Twitter feeds. As Leslie Nassar pointed out (a man not unaware of the perils of running a fake account), Qantas have used reasoning that basically implies that Qantas customers are incredibly stupid. Obviously, we are. Because the occasionally very funny account,  adopting the mumsy and officious tone of the terrible @qantasairways, absolutely nailed them and was apparently so good that we will believe what they were saying. Yeah, right.

I have a couple of theories but first up, let me be clear as to how the account broke what I would term ethical or unwritten rules for a parody account – the username should really have the word ‘fake’ or ‘not’ or something to indicate that it isn’t real. I don’t think it’s enough to put it in the bio, I don’t think it’s enough for the bio not to explicitly state that it’s parody. They also used a Qantas trademark without obvious modification meaning they left themselves open to a successful legal challenge. While I agree with many commentators that satire shouldn’t have to point out that it’s satire, but Twitter, like the world, has plenty of idiots to keep the lawyers going.

What they were doing right was that the person behind the account hasn’t done it out of blind hatred but instead wants to have a bit of fun and wants the airline to be better.

Anyway. Theories.

While this may be a long bow to draw, I have a deep and abiding belief that Australian PR companies and PR people have almost no sense of humour. For many years I wrote video game reviews for a moderately successful gaming website. When we were unable to find a redeeming feature of a game we would say so. Then we battened down the hatches. You cannot, in this country, have any fun at the expense of ‘the brand.’ This then breeds an attitude within that brand’s PR machine that they are untouchable because they have successfully shut down any sort of fun-poking so they then go to market with things like #qantasluxury and the Woolworths Facebook debacle of finishing a sentence. I think part of the problem is that these companies are so keen to keep their often gigantic and/or multinational accounts happy, they develop an incredibly sensitive attitude to those brands.

I once told someone that Top Gear Australia wouldn’t work because of that same reason. There are plenty of rumours to suggest that I was right because a number of car makers were very unhappy at the damage meted out to their cars. Clearly Top Gear in the UK doesn’t have as many issues because plenty of quite new cars are damaged and there seems little in the way of backlash. TGA were (allegedly) threatened with a few manufacturers pulling out. I clearly remember a BMW 135i, a car brutally kicked sideways on Top Gear UK being taken for a very leisurely amble through the forest by the Australian presenter Steve Pizzatti. Ahem.

The other theory is that Qantas takes itself very seriously. While I am all for an airline taking the business of keeping aircraft in the air with utmost safety, I don’t think Qantas quite understands that the public face doesn’t have to be so, well, authoritarian. I flew Qantas regularly for years and whenever a flight was late or cancelled, the officious desk jockey would say, without fail, ‘We don’t fly unsafe aircraft.’ End of discussion. Qantas wants us to take them as seriously as they take themselves and when we don’t, we must be punished.

Twitter reminds me of a year 9 boys school classroom. Testosterone abounds and pack mentality rules. The over-confident maths teacher who says, without warning, halfway through a class, ‘hands up who likes me’ (yes, this happened and no, I did not put my hand up) is the real life equivalent of #qantasluxury. Those who didn’t put their hand up got booted out into the hallway and called arrogant. This is what happened to @qantasPR because they cut too close to the bone – they mimicked the feel and the tone of the real and outrageously poorly executed Qantas twitter accounts and got people talking about the brand for all the wrong reasons (as determined by Qantas and their ambulance chasing lawyers).

What it comes down to is that Qantas don’t like dissent from its customers, its prospective customers or its own staff. Qantas hates anyone who disagrees with the agenda of the board, the CEO and institutional investors. It isn’t enough that we don’t fall for Joyce’s patronising sky-is-falling routine or planting of stories in the Murdoch press praising his ludicrous style, we now have to view the airline the way they want us to without actually putting in the hard yards to do something likeable. Not falling out of the sky anymore doesn’t cut it – Virgin do a good of that and make less of a fuss doing it. The difference is, they don’t treat everyone like dirt.

Richard Dawkins is Finished….Apparently

Professor Richard Dawkins is an incredibly clever man. He is a pre-eminent evolutionary biologist, with a gift for speaking and a gift for the written word. He is erudite, can be very funny and, as I have already said, he is very, very clever. He is perhaps the world’s most famous atheist and probably has made more money from his atheism than anyone. He has a pretty impressive temper and doesn’t mind going into a frothing rage in front of a television camera.

He can also be vile, abrasive, unpleasant and rude. This week he was firing away on a reasonably prominent science blog (I don’t read these things, so I am relying on the internet to tell me it is so), ripping into Rebecca Watson who calls themselves Scepchick.
Scepchick had complained about somebody asking her to his hotel room at 4am after a party. She thought it was creepy and fair enough. Dawkins didn’t think it was enough to complain about, so posted this:

Dear Muslima,

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard.
It isn’t particularly witty or funny and despite me not being a fan of his at all (well, I wouldn’t be, he thinks I’m an idiot), I consider it beneath his usual level of communication. The patronising inverted commas are his as is the irritating correction to ‘proper’ spelling.The post is unpleasant, cranky and hyperbolic. At no point in Watson’s complaint did she compare herself to anybody in such circumstances. Empathy doesn’t appear to be Dawkins’ strong point, as though this is something that we hadn’t already worked out. Even some of his fans will accept his rhetoric is a teensy bit overblown.
Well. It kicked off something of a storm of protest across Sceptic and Atheist websites. There have been calls for boycotts of his books (no differentiation was made between his scientific texts and his ranty atheist ones), speaking engagements (again, no differentiation) and television programs.
It seems the Sceptic/Atheist community does the same thing to itself that it does to the religious community. There is some assignation of blame to reprehensible behaviour to the religion itself rather than the people in it. Dawkins was ripping into Islam, as though all Muslim women suffer the awful fate he outlined above.
It’s fascinating, I think, that any member of a particular school of thought, can be surprised about the views and approaches of someone in that same school of thought. Like the Christian church, Atheism is a, ahem, a broad church and is full of just as interesting and wide a range of characters as any religion. Dawkins is a leading light in New Atheist thinking. It also turns out he’s sarcastic and weirdly sexist.
Some Atheists paint themselves as holding a monopoly on clear and rational thinking, as Dawkins only just stops short of doing himself. The mortal pain with which some of his followers have felt over the past few days is exceptionally strange – the guy hasn’t lived up to a set of ideals they have set for him and so he must be cast in the pit of pariah, his every spoken word now derided as invalid because of his indiscretion in a blog comment.
Was he drunk? Was he high? Was he in a bad mood after a fight with Lalla? Was it jealousy or a professional disagreement with a prominent blogger who isn’t a professor at an English university so shouldn’t be as famous as she is?
Who knows? It’s not really the point.
You see, it’s interesting how we build people up to be something they aren’t. Julia Gillard was expected to deliver much in the way of what the Left were expecting from her, and she hasn’t. The asylum seeker policy is probably worse than even the Liberals, she’s still holding out on same-sex marriage and she has so far failed to soften many of the hard edges filed onto Australia under the Howard Government. Whether you agree with those agendas or not, there is much howling from the groups who wanted them and derision from the other side when they don’t happen and cries that go something along the lines of the pearler Charlie Pickering tweeted on the same-sex marriage.
‘How an atheist can be anti-gay marriage is beyond me’
Well, Charlie, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns out there. The Atheist community has climate-change sceptics, racists, rapists, misogynists, any prejudice and criminality you want to name. Atheists, just because they choose not to believe in God, do not automatically become left-leaning beams of sweetness and light. They remain human and susceptible to human foibles and frailty. And in Gillard’s case, political realities. Just like people who call themselves Christians. Funny, isn’t it, how we’re all the same when you peel back the labels.
Dawkins is a product of his time and place. He has entered his eighth decade on planet Earth, lives in the rarified atmosphere of academia and has a truckload of adoring fans who praise his every move. He thought he could get away with being a bit of a jerk (because, in my opinion, he has done so for years) and has paid the price. He’s probably slightly bewildered how he managed to get it so wrong.
Dawkins has done what most heroes do – he’s trodden in it good and proper and then, to make it worse, refused to listen to why people are upset with him. It hasn’t changed my opinion of him – I think he’s abrasive, uncouth and generally unpleasant. What it doesn’t make him is a scientist we should ignore. Christians shouldn’t be afraid of his science and even less afraid of his anti-religious dogma. Mao and Stalin with their armies and reigns of terror couldn’t stop religion, he can’t either.
(N.B . I am not comparing Dawkins to Stalin or Mao – the point I am making here is that they had far more power and might and tried to stamp out religion with violence and repression. They failed – China’s pre-Communist Era Christian population was tens of thousands, by the time of his death it was nearing a reported 50 million. Dawkins has words, books and television and apart from his terrifying temper, is otherwise a reasonable chap when not talking religion. As in not a murderous psychopath.)
I was surprised that he was so offhand about Scepchick’s incident but I was more surprised about the reaction. I think people are tiring of his constant, greying monotone about how religion is terrible. He hasn’t produced anything new on the matter, just said the same thing, over and over. I should imagine following the Dawkins tour is like touring around behind a stand-up comedian – it’s the same jokes, the same stories and the same old thing. You can go to a good church for ten years and not hear the same sermon twice.
Dawkins probably isn’t finished – the cosy, self-congratulatory atmosphere of University life will see to that, and his dedicated acolytes will return because they have nothing else to believe in. I will say I’m mightily impressed with the Atheist and sceptic communities – they treat their own like they treat those with whom they disagree. That’s the sort of consistency I can respect.

Victoria’s Offensive Language Law Changes Are Bollocks

In the fine tradition of politicians looking like they’re doing something, the new Baillieu government in Victoria has decided to fine people swearing in public on the spot. Which, let’s be honest, is different to actually being offensive.

This is instead of charging people with offensive language and hauling them into court only to have the charges dismissed by the magistrate in what is obviously a waste of the court’s time. Offensive language laws are long past their use-by date as the community has become more tolerant (this is different to accepting) of people swearing in public. It’s part of the social fabric and unless the surrounding language is intended to be threatening, most people just brush it off.

Many on Twitter, as usual, are blaming the moral conservatives and the evangelicals but I find it hard to see either of these groups explicitly supporting the new legislation. Basically, the new legislation is more about clearing the matter in one hit, in the same way councils do with parking fines, rather than let magistrates let the ‘offender’ off. These groups might drink a dry sherry in honour of the new laws, but unless my Aunty Betty has been writing letters (and she does), nobody is going to be all that impressed.

I think you’ll find the Victoria Police are behind it.

Baillieu wants to give Police the excuse to grab people on what is effectively a technicality. If a Police officer directs someone to do something and gets the predictable response that goes along the lines of ‘Get f***ed, pig,’ then the Police now have a marvellous excuse for grabbing the offender, fining them a couple of hundred bucks and sending them on their way after what will no doubt be a thorough search. That’s what this is all about, it’s the twenty-first century clip over the ear with added rights infringements.

If you want to blame the evangelicals (I’m not exactly sure who people think these evangelicals are) or the moral conservatives (a marvellous social caricature used as a scapegoat. Again, who are these people? Apart from Aunty Betty, I mean), go right ahead. But I think you’re missing the point. If the Police fine a hundred people on an average Saturday night in Melbourne, that’s twenty grand for the state’s coffers, or a millions bucks for a year’s worth of Saturdays. How many of those hundred people will want to take this to court? Not many. No doubt the process will be as tortuous as contesting a parking fine and that’s the point.

Worse, and far more insidious than the ad hominem argument of evangelicals/moral conservatives, is the fact that it is giving the Police a fantastic excuse to decide to search you where they previously wouldn’t bother. Police probably don’t bother with offensive language charges on their own because it sends them to court, causes endless paperwork and rarely gets past the magistrate. Those are the sorts of shenanigans nobody needs for somebody dropping an f-bomb in public. Now the Police know they’re more likely to make it stick, they’ll fine you and search you because, hey, why not while you’re already writing a ticket?

See where this is going? With a bit of luck, someone they really want to talk to will go for a bit of biffo and they’ve got them in the cells, nice and handy for assessing whether they can get them for something else.

I’m not dismissing ‘moral conservatism’ or evangelicals as a factor, but they’re not the driving force. I can’t say there’s much evidence to support the argument but it is the sort of thing Aunty Betty would do. She once rang my father early on a Sunday morning asking him to preach against a Pizza Hut slogan that went, ‘Get Stuffed.’ He told her to get stuffed, but reasonably politely, as I recall. For the record, swearing doesn’t offend me, despite my membership of the Christian church. There’s rather more going on in society to worry about people saying words to which we have attached weight for strange reasons.

Fining somebody for offensive language is remarkably stupid and is massively inconsistent. People like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones are wilfully offensive in their on-air and written ramblings yet they never, ever swear at or to their audience. Baillieu isn’t interested in keeping the peace, he’s interested in raking in a few bucks, playing hard ball on law and order and giving Police a new motivation for collaring somebody they normally wouldn’t – or couldn’t.

I reckon that’s far worse.

Rock Bottom Is Up From Here.

It appears we have actually reached the bottom of the barrel, finished scraping it, checked it over for anything left, kicked the barrel over and dug about fifteen feet down. Because today Australia’s political debate centred around whether or not Cate Blanchett’s opinion on climate change and our – her – government’s response, was valid. She has chosen to express her opinion and values by helping front a union-funded political campaign encouraging Australians to think past the media’s woeful representation of the carbon tax pricing scheme (I’m looking at almost all of them here) and engage, using her celebrity for something she deems useful. While I don’t take much notice of what celebrities think, good on her.

The question of its validity rose up because, well, she’s a woman and a rich one at that. But what’s this? There are other people in the ad. Our very own, beloved, Michael Caton (he who plays pretty much the same character in everything he’s ever been in ever) is in it too, but his opinion wasn’t questioned, presumably because the validity of people’s opinions are means-tested. I’m just waiting for some idiot to say maybe Blanchett would understand all this better if she had…sorry, wrong argument, she’s got kids. See? How else are we to denigrate a woman with power and an opinion if she has kids?

Just to make sure, Channel 9’s Sunday evening news crossed to the Wharf Theatre to talk about whether she was being treated harshly. Why even bother getting involved in that dog whistle argument? Barnaby Joyce’s rabble-rousing was tired and messy and incomprehensible. The government were nowhere to be seen, despite the campaign being to their benefit.

To be fair, part of this has blown up because this Labor Government are the biggest bunch of numpties when it comes to explaining any of their policies. They are trying to actually do something (as well as being forced to do other things by people like Andrew Wilkie) and the something is good not just for the country but the world.

To illustrate: The Labor Party would take a focus group to a pub and explain the benefits of providing a free beverage. The media would be there, it would all be carefully stage-managed. The PR people would arrive in their Audis, the carefully selected working family representative (slightly heavy 35 year-old with 2.5 kids) would be nicely turned out in chinos and a polo shirt. Then the Minister would start speaking:

‘The liquid in question we present here today is a carbonated beverage, made with hops and malt and when consumed, usually orally, it makes the conshoomer…’

At that point, Tony Abbott would burst through the door with a bunch of carousing National Party wallopers, tear off his shirt and shout, ‘Free Beer!’ and everyone would vote for him instead.

And time and time again the media, and the Labor Party, let this happen. Labor can’t explain the Mining Resources Tax without treading on themselves and sections of the media somehow make Gina Rinehart look like a battler. Climate change isn’t explained properly and carefully by anyone, including Tim Flannery, because they cannot master the art of cut-through. The Coalition and the media, including Fairfax, are producing so much static that Labor just can’t catch a break, and it’s their own fault. The only break they’ve caught is an email from the Coalition whip moaning about MPs missing divisions.

Good government includes telling the story of policy and this government fails to tell a story that people can understand and digest. I’m for the carbon tax pricing scheme (I had to delete tax even though that’s not what it is but it’s all we hear because Labor never rebuffs it) and I’ve had to dig long and hard to even understand what the government could be maybe possibly be doing. Not every one has the time or the mad Google skillz, or the political engagement that goes beyond a shirtless, screaming Tony Abbott. Or the willpower, to be honest.

That’s not meant to be patronising, by the way, except possibly to Labor’s media advisors. Given the state of political discourse, people have been happier listening to Abbott rather than some nasal Labor minister whining about how it’s good for working families moving forward.

We’ve got this because we’ve asked for it. We are not demanding enough of our politicians, we are not holding them to the high standards we expect and we are letting them waste our Sundays bitching about a perfectly legal ad supporting the policy of an elected government. Nobody has made anything of Angry Anderson (that’s not me, by the way) being the climate sceptics’ front man (I actually thought he was dead) and nobody has questioned Rinehart’s lunatic views based on the amount of money she has in the bank.

Why are we letting the media question Blanchett like this, why are we consuming it and why isn’t the Labor government coming out swinging like they did when the Liberals leaked an email?