The cultural protectionists of the Australian film and television industry are complete blockheads. If they received the “protection from competition”:http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,7926756%255E2702,00.html that they seek, it would cut them off from integration withUS media industries that are globally more sucessful and on which they depend for funding, distribution, technology and …jobs. But their vanity and arrogance is even more annoying than their stupidity. To judge from their “self-indulgent speeches”:http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2003/s995095.htm at the Australian Film Institute Awards, they believe that they can claim some sort of role as cultural guardians: our last hold on fragile cultural values. Three top performances on the night (quotes from the ABC transcript): 1. Toni Collette was distinguished in her role as cultural ingenue: bq. “Oh, it’s so sad what’s going on. And I just beg you, Mr John Howard, to just see straight and not jeopardise our cultural future.” 2. Geoffrey Rush gets the award for pompous hyperbole: bq. “This [maintaining protected quotas for Australian content on television and in film] is a very serious issue, almost as crucial in its impact as the constitution of this country.” 3. George Miller takes the prize for the basest cultural ‘cringe’ bq. “In America, do you think they’re watching the Rugby World Cup? No they’re not. It doesn’t make an impact. But they certainly know about Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe and Geoffrey Rush and so on and so on.” Good grief! The culture of our country is what we choose to do, to read, to see, and to say. It grows out of the same freedom of expression and enquiry that this self-appointed cultural priesthood wish to deny us. And it changes continually: or at least, it does while it lives.