Cultural protectionists

The cul­tur­al pro­tec­tion­ists of the Aus­tralian film and tele­vi­sion indus­try are com­plete block­heads. If they received the “pro­tec­tion from competition”:,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”: 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.

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