Flat White

Good Jon bad

29 June 2021

3:10 PM

29 June 2021

3:10 PM

Here’s an old writers trick that doesn’t involve moving to Tunisia and becoming a dope fiend. If you don’t want to say what you really think about someone because it makes you look like a bit of a prick, just invent a character that effectively ‘isn’t you’ – your prick-like ‘other’ to say all those terrible things you cant really say even though you wish you really could. It’s complicated but then again all good journalism is. 

Witness Jon Faine, former ABC presenter, Sunday Age columnist, Dan Andrews acolyte and interviewer of choice in his latest column inventing a Good Jon/Bad Jon persona to discuss the NSW lockdown Apocalypse Now.   

According to the column, Good Jon says dull, worthy stuff like I hope no one in Sydney gets sick and I hope you all get better – it’s the old shtick from his radio show except when he was discussing the Liberal Party. But nobody in Victoria wants to hang around with Good Jon, because give him five minutes and he’ll be lecturing you about your cigarette habit and how you really need to lose some of that Covid weight.  Bad Jon though says the really interesting stuff – the intellectual red meat of inner suburban dinner parties when you’re half-cut and spouting off about Sydneysiders and Covid and how condescending and self-righteous they are and how they are now getting a bit of karma. 

Contrary to the Bad Jon Straw Man position though, as far as I can tell most of the commentary (with some dishonourable exceptions) aimed at Victoria’s Lockdown Jurassic Park has not been directed at long-suffering Victorians at all. In fact, the slightly three-year oldish ‘you bagged us, so we can now bag you’ logic of Bad Jon commentators currently getting their rocks off at the defrocking by media conference of St Gladys of the Contact Tracing seems for the moment to be very much a Victorian thing. I think the Germans have a word for this, but I can’t spell it.     

Good/Bad Jon to one side though, here’s the curious thing to me with the NSW lockdown announcements and those wanting to tell Gladys that they told her so.  

Even if the Berejiklian Government is now forced to lockdown for, say, a month and experience a milder, nobody-actually-dies version of Victoria’s lockdown, the fact is that for 18 months previous they have avoided this -– NSW businesses have been able to get on with business and people able to live there lives. Eighteen months of those freedoms even if it ends now is its own achievement and should not be taken for granted by bitter-types in other states even if they have their own newspaper column. Perhaps admire the good fortune rather than resent it under the guise of some dodgy ‘other’ rhetorical tool that pretends you’re speaking on behalf of what every other Victorian really thinks. 

The fact that the Bad Jon Bad Faith ‘I told you so’ critics can’t acknowledge the benefits of the preceding months of public freedom in NSW tells you a lot about what they really think of that liberty and is a great insight into the ideological morass that grips many of them. 

For the record, Michael Scammell is from Melbourne. He writes at https://mdswords.wordpress.com and Tweets at @MichaelScammell. 

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