The media construct of Indigenous people as ‘lazy, entitled’ began to emerge during the 1980s, as the mining industry’s publicity campaign against Indigenous land rights came into full force. Media-friendly grabs like ‘the black arm-band view of history’, the ‘surrender Australia policy’, ‘special privileges’ and the ‘Aboriginal Affairs Industry’ crept into the discourse.
Dylan has been a critical artist in the history of rock and roll without a doubt. But rock and roll has very much been a male-dominated enterprise. At the recent elite Desert Trip Festival of ancient rock and roll icons in California, every single performer was male. What Dylan’s Nobel perhaps shows us is that mainstream rock and roll has more in common with the production of literature than we might think.
The proposal and ensuing conversation show how the languages of government and art are incompatible. They are incompatible because art cannot be described in the vocabulary of the state without invoking purpose and commerce. Moreover, ministerial jargon does not admit moral ambiguity: those who govern traffic only in moral conviction. Embedded in any political polemic is the aspirational and patronising assertion that ‘We can all agree on x’, where x is to do with hospitals, education, terrorism etc. How could you disagree with this obvious good? Do you hate children? Do you love bombs?
Today, with an orange-skinned buffoon with weird hair running for president, we’re plagued by evil clowns. Should we be surprised?
If the anti-corporate slogan ‘another world is possible’ gave rise to radical pie throwing, today’s clowns belong to a period in which political hopes have been so entirely crushed that carnival becomes less utopian and more nihilistic.
Malcolm Gladwell has been subjected to significant amounts of criticism over the years, which are to varying degrees compelling and valid. His approach to storytelling is both overly simplistic and engaging. He reproduces what others have researched in accessible ways, but makes mistakes and misrepresentations. He is entertaining but, given his reach and looseness with the truth, arguably dangerous.