June 2005

Arts & Letters

'A Current Affair' on Channel Nine / 'Today Tonight' on Channel Seven

By Kerryn Goldsworthy

Among people who get their current affairs from the ABC or SBS, the consensus is that A Current Affair and Today Tonight rate their socks off by relying on stories about neighbourhood feuds, sex scandals, dodgy salesmen, weight loss, welfare cheats and bras. It’s true: people watch these shows because their taxes, their sex lives, their cars, their weight, their neighbours and their own or other people’s breasts are what they think about most on a day-to-day basis. If the lofty types were being truthful, they’d admit the same goes for them too. For better or worse, the content of these shows is really just democracy at work.

Both shows are pitched, through the vectors of their respective hosts, at a hypothetical family of viewers who never cheat, lie or let their children or their lawns go feral. Both promote an adversarial, punitive, self-righteous, us-and-them view of the world. “We” are the chaste, law-abiding, honest Australian citizens and taxpayers; “they” are everybody else. On September 21 A Current Affair ran a sympathetic story about a real-estate salesman who’d been injured when he was thrown by a bouncer down the stairs of a nightclub. The bouncer got off with a mere fine, said the victim indignantly. No attempt was made to give the bouncer’s side of the story, much less to summarise the legal arguments. The real agenda was un-spoken but clear: “we” should get tougher on law and order. It is not the content but the angle, and the motives behind the angle, that critics of these shows should be worried about.

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Cover: June 2005

June 2005

From the front page

Image of Greens leader Richard Di Natale

Taxperts at war

We are losing the big picture in the tax cut debate

Image of sheep

Turning a blind eye to live exports

Just how bad do things have to get before we declare the system broken?

Image of ‘Ironbark’

Jay Carmichael’s debut novel, ‘Ironbark’

A poetic account of adolescent alienation and masculinity in rural Australia

Image of Rhonda Deans exploring “the Squeeze”, Koonalda Cave, South Australia

‘Deep Time Dreaming’ by Billy Griffiths

This history of archaeology in Australia charts our changing relationship with the past


In This Issue

Enrolment Daze

Freedom, order and The Golden Bead Material: a parent’s dilemma

Man Without a Name

A Te Aroha cowboy and his secret part in training the 1985 Melbourne Cup winner

The Prince of Darkness is a Gentleman

Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)


More in Television

Still from Atlanta

The whole follow-your-dreams thing

There’s some bite to Donald Glover’s languid, lyrical comedy series ‘Atlanta’

Still from Black Mirror

Through the dark glass

Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ is ‘The Twilight Zone’ for our tech-obsessed times

Image from The Get Down

Where did Baz Luhrmann go wrong?

Netflix’s hip-hop drama ‘The Get Down’ squanders its potential

Presenter John Hamblin on Play School

Through the windows

‘Play School’ celebrates 50 years of preschool education and entertainment


More in Noted

Cover of The Lebs

‘The Lebs’ by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

A fresh perspective on Muslim youth in Sydney’s west

Cover of A Sand Archive

‘A Sand Archive’ by Gregory Day

Day grasps landscape as an intimate living thing

‘The Choke’ by Sofie Laguna

Allen & Unwin; $32.99

Cover of Anything Is Possible

‘Anything Is Possible’ by Elizabeth Strout

Viking; $29.99


Read on

Image of sheep

Turning a blind eye to live exports

Just how bad do things have to get before we declare the system broken?

Image of ‘Ironbark’

Jay Carmichael’s debut novel, ‘Ironbark’

A poetic account of adolescent alienation and masculinity in rural Australia

Image from ‘Cold War’

Cannes Film Festival 2018

An ever-so-slightly off-key event

Image of Treasurer Scott Morrison delivering 2018 budget

What’s in a name?

From Pig Iron Bob to Unbelieva-Bill: the trouble with nicknames in politics


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