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Why basketball sucks and other gripes

Why basketball sucks and other gripes

BASKETBALL IS A WASTE OF SPACE
Basketball is a dumb game played by people who require extra legroom on planes. The coaches dress like principals. No wonder people in the audience propose marriage on the big screen – they’re bored out of their wits with what’s going down on court.

TV NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS IS A SCOURGE
I feel sorry for kids having news rammed down their throats from 5pm. What’s missing is the family comedy of yesteryear: Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes, Gilligan’s Island. These shows taught us aspiring actors and writers about irony, comic timing, punchlines. Now all you get is a story about a house built on a toxic dump, or another miracle treatment for cellulite.

ONLINE BILLS SUCK
We are constantly bombarded with requests to receive bills online: somebody has to say this sucks. Ever tried to find an email among the 1000+ in your account? What are we supposed to do, print them all out ourselves? I don’t know about you, but a new ink cartridge is the better part of my weekly earnings.

FOOTY TODAY SMACKS OF PSEUDO-AMERICANISM 
Footy was better in the 70s. Well, it was better for me: I grew up loving Old Easts, and hating the Royals and others. Sure, kids today have the Eagles or Dockers, but in my day Big Bob Johnson would change your oil at his local servo. Can you imagine Ross Lyon wiping the oil stick and doing your windows? The other week, I was at an Eagles game: every Eagles goal, this idiot supporter would get up from his seat, head over to his mates and high-five them, like he’d had some part in it. This pseudo-American rubbish eats away at culture. No banter between
fans, no wit, no put-downs, and no drop kicks. Bring back Melrose, Rioli and Peake, and the days when ‘corporate box’ meant a cereal packet.

ISOLATION ROCKS
Would Paul Rigby or Judy Davis have become great artists if they’d been raised in Sydney? Doubt it. Unlike the Eastern States, there was no artistic infrastructure in WA to make hacks into celebrities. Artists had to do it from iron will and originality. When you look at the Aussie artists who achieve international acclaim – from The Triffids to Tame Impala – there are an awful lot from WA.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS DRIVING KIDS FROM LITERATURE
Recently, my 16- year-old daughter was bemoaning the fact that for HSC extension English, crime had been dumped for what amounted to chick-lit, with emphasis on the role of ‘gender’ and other politico-speak. She is now going to drop the course to concentrate on history and biology. She’s not alone. If there is one area that should be free from conformity and political pressure, it is literary fiction, where ideas – liberating, repellent or plain entertaining – are given freedom. What could benefit society more than more people reading? It’s what inspires us and gives harbour from a seemingly hostile world. Kids should not be subjected to this didacticism. And surely one of the most obvious fields where women excel beyond men is literature; think of all the women in publishing. Agatha Christie showed women can best men even in crime writing, so leave the bunkum for courses in politics, and let kids be inspired by their curriculum, not brow-beaten by thinly veiled agendas.

THE MUNDANE CAN BE THE GENESIS OF ART
I hated growing up in Perth’s hot nothing-land of bush and sand. I ached for the chipped industrial brick of Nottingham, like Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, or San Francisco, to the strains of Zappa’s guitar. How could sparse ovals, neat houses, Gary Carvolth and the Shirley Halliday Dancers ever generate art? And yet they had to, for nothing is more powerful than an artist synthesising experience. The sticky Laminex table was my inspiration for Suburban Boy, Half-Time at the Football, and Living in WA, and later for City of Light and Before It Breaks. Art from non-art is the alchemy of the suburban would-be artist. Howard Arkley and Greg Macainsh proved it.

THE BEST SCREEN-WRITING IS ON TV
US feature films have become expensive comic books, but TV offers story excellence, particularly in the crime genre. From Scando noir (The Killing, The Bridge and Unit 1) to the black-humoured observation on US society (Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire), the good stuff is all on the box.

PLOT IS UNDERRATED
Screenwriting tutors and books tell you that character is all-important. They’re wrong – at least in popular film or fiction. Agatha Christie’s two great characters never changed, but her ingenious plots did. From Transformers to The Bridge, it’s plot that hooks and keeps the audience. Great characters are essential for great films, but for every Little Miss Sunshine there are a dozen dreary Aussie films that burned a generation of filmgoers because they had no plot.

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