BY SCOTT LIMBRICK
I didn’t live in the country during the 2007 election, so at first I was glad to have the chance to witness Kevin Rudd in full campaign mode. But, as they say, be careful what you wish for.
I’m not sure if it’s the fact that people are electioned out after the marathon that was last year’s US presidential race, or that this has been called a three-year campaign, but it seems most Australians – even political junkies – are tuning out.
And when major news items seem designed to counter any possible attempt at satire, well, it’s just really hard. How can anything that has happened be twisted into a joke when it’s so innately funny?
Let’s begin with the infamous shaving Instagram. I thought I had finally seen the last of this poorly-framed selfie when ABC News Breakfast invited a social media expert to dissect it earlier this week. That is, until Josh Frydenburg, the Member for Kooyong, tweeted on Wednesday night that foreign aid is “more interesting and important than cutting one’s self shaving”.
To be fair, he’s right, but I get the feeling we’ll be seeing more of our Prime Minister’s bloodied face in coming weeks than we will of news about the aid budget being cut once again.
The fact that this selfie is getting prime time coverage almost a month after it first appeared speaks volumes about the quality of the material we’re working with here. Put simply, we are approaching a new level of self-parody in Australian politics.
How can anyone possibly parody a picture of the prime minister cutting himself shaving? Nothing can be more absurd than the simple fact that it exists.
And this isn’t even the most perplexing.
Any attempt to parody The Daily Telegraph’s “Kick This Mob Out” front page is impossible, since nothing can possibly top the same paper’s magnificent Stephen Conroy/Pol Pot/Stalin splash. And in what seems to be a cruel pre-emption of any misguided attempt to do so, they have outdone themselves with an almost unnecessarily high quality image of Kevin Rudd as Colonel Klink.
This will only get worse as more reporters familiarise themselves with the potential of Photoshop – a powerful tool at any time, but downright dangerous in election season.
Even without editorial interference, we’ve seen a One Nation candidate create a new country called Islam, a Liberal candidate mumble “we support families” while slowly walking away from what is hopefully the most awkward interview of his career, Clive Palmer hang up on an interviewer when asked for the name of one of his own party’s candidates, and a potential Victorian Labor candidate who had visited the electorate once or twice.
Perhaps the only person left to skewer is the unfortunate French President Francois Hollande. A press release lingers on the Embassy’s website announcing a meeting with Prime Minister Rudd on September 6 in St Petersburg, one all but officially scrapped. Mournful images come to mind of President Hollande sitting alone at a restaurant with a single red rose, waving away the waitress as he explains that he is waiting for his date.
But with the Australian media pushing out increasingly hilarious campaign material in and of itself, is there anything really left for satire?
Well, it’s worth a shot.
Scott recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts after completing high school in Singapore. He has written for Meanjin, Voiceworks, and The Punch, volunteered with the Oaktree Foundation and interned at Change.org. Scott has worked in a chocolate shop and a call centre, annoys his housemates with his mediocre cooking skills (tacos only), and his finest moment was playing a Jimi Hendrix solo behind his head. He can be found on Twitter here.
What has been your favourite political faux pas of this election campaign?