Is the woke tide finally starting to turn? One aspect of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis might suggest so. Specifically, the unanimous, unqualified praise of the Ukrainian President. There’s nothing politically risky about applauding someone who stands up to a bully, of course. But absent President Zelensky’s unquestionable personal courage, he is, as the white male leader of an unapologetically patriarchal society with a history of xenophobia, hardly the kind of figure who would normally be lionised by the Left. And as far as I know, nobody at the Guardian has yet pointed out that if he does keep his job, and his head, it will be thanks to the support of the right-wing nationalist militias he has turned a blind eye to since taking office as much as to the weapon donations, asset freezing and standing ovations of Western parliaments.
Glass-half-full conservatives might also take heart from the very different outcomes of controversies triggered by the public remarks of two very different celebrities. Three years ago, a single tweet about the trans movement was enough to turn the world’s most successful children’s author into an online pariah whose books are now about as welcome as headlice in many schools. So you’d think that the purportedly life-threatening Covid ‘misinformation’ which Joe Rogan was recently accused of spreading would have been even more career-curtailing, especially after the case for cancellation was compounded by the unearthing of the ‘n’ word from the Rogan archive. But despite the best efforts of Neil Young & co., Rogan’s disappearance from Spotify lasted only weeks, his online audience is bigger than ever, and even the New York Times has now acknowledged that ivermectin, one of the drugs discussed in the offending podcast, may not actually kill you.
Yet another example of left-leaning goal posts shifting can be seen in the mainstream US media’s handling of the only subject deemed important enough to compete with Ukraine of late. Much of the screen time devoted to Slapgate has been about whether Will Smith was morally justified in hitting someone for making a joke at his wife’s expense, and whether the Academy should revoke his Oscar, and whether Chris Rock should have pressed charges. But a more interesting aspect of this story is surely that networks like CNN, MSNBC and CBS covered it at all, since doing so represents a break with an editorial policy they’ve maintained for at least the last decade and prosecuted most rigorously since the death of George Floyd. Slapgate is the first black-on-black inner-city violence which the Left has chosen not to ignore in a very long time.
If our own ABC wanted to walk back its wokeness, and finally start catering to the tastes of the people who pay its salaries, it could do worse than restore the great Chris Lilley to our screens. Lilley has been on the woke nose since his use of blackface in the role of Jonah the Tongan got his entire back catalogue kicked off Netflix early last year. It’s too much to hope that we’ll see Jonah again any time soon, but Auntie might consider asking Lilley to resurrect the equally brilliant but less politically incorrect private schoolgirl Ja’mie King. The mise-en-scène of the new series could be that after failing her gender studies degree Ja’mie has joined the federal Labor party and, through parental connections, persuaded it to let her run for a safe Western suburbs seat in which, despite the election being only weeks away, she has never visited . Indeed, the entire series would be set in Canberra, where Ja’mie has formed an unholy alliance with two other equally ambitious female pollies. Notwithstanding their varying ethnicity, all three women would, of course, be played by Lilley, as would the married minister who is forced to resign in the first episode after Ja’mie responds to his polite rejection of her advances by accusing him of sexual harassment. While this might leave Lilley vulnerable to charges of cultural appropriation, it would certainly present viewers with a more accurate picture of the contemporary Australian political landscape than Insiders.
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