The 2005 Chutzpah Awards
By any previous standards, 2005 has been a bumper year for unmitigated gall, sheer effrontery and shameless audacity. Veteran practitioners continued to amaze us with their utter brass while fresh new talent shirt-fronted its way to notoriety. From the pinnacles of power to the sloughs of despond, the entire world found itself awash with barefaced cheek. Nobody was immune from its temptations. Here in Australia, it even got to the point where some jumped-up property developer with a sideline in publishing thought he could launch a successful national magazine.
In keeping with the spirit of the times, The Monthly has decided to salute those cocky bastards whose moxie inspired us throughout the year. In their honour, we are pleased to introduce the first annual Chutzpah Awards.
- 1 of 2
- next ›
Wendi Deng: Role Model
The Tower of Murdoch is no place for the faint-hearted. Potentates quail before its might and the tribute of nations flows into its coffers. From its lofty battlements, Emperor Rupert the Ruthless casts his shadow upon a far-flung empire. Deep within its maze-like structure, locked up with a golden key, lies the Instrument of Succession, a most marvellous contrivance through which the old emperor will transmit his patrimony to his heirs, foremost of whom is his first-born son, Lachlan the Likely.
But Lachlan is wearied of dwelling in his father’s shadow and would fain go adventuring. And look, who is this? It is Wendi, an itinerant girl from beyond the seas. She is slipping past the emperor’s defences and offering him the Elixir of Immortality. He drinks deep and his grip upon the key to the Instrument of Succession begins to weaken.
Will it soon lie within Wendi’s grasp?
What’s Chinese for chutzpah?
Sol Trujillo: Your Call Is Important to Us
He’s only been with the firm six months and already the new trainee at Telstra has accused the owner of being a hindrance, dropped the share price out the window, given the investors a nervous rash and told the other employees to take a hike.
In short, he’s a textbook example of the sort of workplace troublemaker that the new industrial legislation is supposed to eliminate.
Way to go, Solly Boy.
Gunns: Tasmania, Inc.
It’s not a lot for a billion-dollar company to ask – just to be left alone to get on with a harmless bit of herbicidespraying, possum-poisoning, clear-felling, wood-chipping and democracy-suborning without having to put up with non-stop carping and finger-pointing from the Bob Brown brigade. What these people need is a lesson. Round up 20 of the usual suspects, tape their gobs shut and make them pay you $6.3 million. Any right-minded judge would surely agree. But not Justice Bernard Bongiorno of the Victorian Supreme Court, who struck out Gunns Limited’s 216-page statement of claim for no better reason than it was “unintelligible, ambiguous, vague and too general”.
Confronted with such pettifogging pusillanimity, anybody else would be tempted to give up. But not the big boys from Burnie, where going mad with an axe is a way of life.
Go get ’em, Gunns. The whole country is behind you. Well behind.
Elle Macpherson: Wardrobe Refurbisher
She used to be hot in the 1990s, so hot she’d rather go naked than wear the skin of anything that had been clubbed, gassed, strangled or electrocuted. But that was then – and now is now. And right now it’s a bit chilly in New York, so a Model of Compassion would be wise to bundle up. With a sable coat, say, and a $1.8 million endorsement fee from Mink Skinners, Inc.
You’ve got a hide, Elle Macpherson. Or a pelt, as they call it, as they rip it from the living body of a small purpose-bred creature.
Shane Connor: Recovering Paranoiac
It was victimisation, pure and simple, and Shane Connor (aka Joe Scully) isn’t going to take it lying down. So now that the drugs have worn off, the soapie star is taking a stand. He’s sued Grundy Television for unfair dismissal. Since when were uncontrollable facial twitches and incoherent behaviour grounds for being sacked from the cast of Neighbours? Shit, man, they’re more like essential requirements for the job. And as for turning up late with an amphetamine hangover, didn’t they know he was an actor when they hired him?
Go get ’em, Shane. Just don’t make a habit of it.
Russell Crowe: The Anti-Chutzpah Award for Chickening Out
It was his big chance and he blew it. Instead of taking well deserved pride in his actions, Russell Crowe kissed arse and paid six-figure compensation for having done no more than any reasonable person would have done in his place. What any tired, homesick, emotionally vulnerable guest in a $1,500-a-night hotel would have done if he’d been given lip by some bored flunky at 3 a.m. when he was just trying to call home to let the missus know how much he was missing her.
Jesus, Russ, the guy whatevered you. You could’ve beaten the jerk to a pulp with the handset and no jury in the world would’ve convicted you of anything more serious than aggravated consumer advocacy. But what did you do? You slithered away on a trail of self-admonishment and hush money. Shame, Russell, shame.
Amanda Vanstone: Fit for the Task
Holding back the floodgates of illegal immigration would wear most of us to a frazzle. Look what it did to poor Phil Ruddock. But despite its many vicissitudes, Amanda Vanstone has a keen appetite for the job – and for almost anything else, for that matter. So when she managed to combine an inspection tour of Villawood Detention Centre with a spot of double-handed snacking, she proved once again that she’s a politician in a class of her own.
Is that a TPV in your hand, minister, or are you just pleased to eat me?
Morry Schwartz: Feminist Publisher
Yes, it’s a periodical, it’s a bit messy and it can make you irritable sometimes. But calling it The Monthly? Honestly, Morry – what were you thinking?
Oh well, at least it’s not The Curse. Or is it?
David Penberthy: Paragon of the Press
It’s important for a newspaper editor to maintain the highest professional standards, particularly if his newspaper is as well-respected as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. So when a reporter with a history of mischievous rumourmongering filed an innuendo-laden farrago of inaccuracies and misrepresentations, David Penberthy knew exactly how to respond. He ran the story on the front page. And when the next thing that happened was the resignation and attempted suicide of the leader of the state opposition, he knew just what to do – describe the journalist as “a fine reporter” and the discredited beat-up as “legitimate and accurate”.
Onya, Penbo. You’re an inspiration to the trade.
Anthony Prince and Luke Carroll: Australian Intellectuals
It was a plan of brilliant simplicity. Enter bank, the usual
one, say “G’day”, flash ID badge, brandish fake pistol and demand money. Take cash into dunny and photograph selves holding it, then straight to the airport, buy tickets with stolen bills and take off for Mexico. The Yanks won’t know what hit them. It should’ve worked like a charm. Instead it’s five years in a federal penitentiary. It’s David Hicks all over again. Which just goes to prove that you can’t help bad luck.
Brian Martin: Marriage Guidance Counsellor
In an era when old-style family values are buffeted by the winds of change, it’s a rare man indeed who is prepared to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage. Such a man is Brian Martin, Chief Justice of the Northern Territory. When hearing a case against a 55-year-old man charged with the aggravated assault and anal rape of a 14-year-old girl, Brian was told that the defendant believed he was simply asserting his rights as a husband. After all, the girl had been promised to him since she was four, his other wife hadn’t objected, and he thought “no” meant “yes”. Fair enough, decreed His Honour. Charges reduced and a month in jail.
Michelle Leslie: Model Defendant
Maybe it was drugs, maybe it was Attention Deficit Disorder, or maybe it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Hell, when you’re looking at 15 years in an Indonesian slammer, anything’s worth a shot. So you admit that you’re a lingerie model, right. And that you went to this party, right. And that there were these tablets in your handbag, right. But it was all a terrible mix-up, right. Because you’re a Muslim, right. Otherwise why would you be wearing this big white scarf thingy over your head?
OK, so it’s a long shot. But, hey, anybody with a better idea should go tell Schapelle. And as for the lingerie, what do you think we’re wearing under our chadors anyway?
Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.
Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.