Whatever you do, don’t fuck with the narrative

26 Nov

It’s been my firm contention for quite some time that the viability of Australia’s mandatory detention regime hinges on the willingness of the corporate press to ‘report’ on the issue in very specific ways.

And it’s not just about the endless (often ridiculous) appeals to fear, resentment, distrust & pogrom printed daily in the pages of notable propaganda rags like the Herald Sun. In fact I’d go as far as to say that the ‘Bolt factor’, despite it’s dedication to the promotion of loud & proud ignorance, is subservient to a much more pressing concern: whatever you do, don’t fuck with the narrative.

I mean, who would want to right? It’s not like the issue is in anyway complicated by a myriad of factors including (but not limited to) war, persecution or climate disaster – ‘these people’ are coming (On boats! What gall!) to have their feet washed by the Australian tax-payer!

In service of the don’t fuck with the narrative rule, it is vitally important that all ‘journalists’ remember to refer to refugees/asylum seekers (who, awkwardly, just so happen to be fellow human beings) in the most abstract & sterile possible terms – in groups versus out groupsgrew here‘ versus ‘flew here‘ – in order to perpetuate & reinforce the rigid dichotomies that grant governments the domestic political cover they need to maintain & expand the detention apparatus. To humanise a refugee is essentially to relinquish the most vicious & effective cudgel, good ole fashioned appeals to fear, that both the government & their unwitting allies in the neo-fascist ‘protectionist’/’patriot’ lobbies have.

In this light, it seems more than a little odd that the Gillard government is suddenly rushing to try and tell sell the (fake) stories of people desperate enough to attempt to seek protection in Australia by boat, when similar attempts to tell (actual) stories about what it is like to be an asylum seeker (from Amnesty International & Getup to name just two) have been completely shut out of the press.

Perhaps the most useful way to look at this is as a further piece of evidence about what Labor’s priorities really are on asylum seekers & mandatory detention issues. We could use a whole lot of words to describe Gillard’s motives, but I think craven is probably the most accurate.

I have contacted Cultural Perspectives (the agency tasked with actually creating the new scare-the-brown-people-away advertisements) several times to ask them whether they see any inherent conflict between exploiting human tragedy in service of perpetuating what is (at best) misinformation, and their self-described ‘expertise’ on handling multicultural issues, which they themselves describe as ‘an area historically considered sensitive, complex and difficult’.

I’m sure you will all be shocked to learn that, despite talking to several different people, nobody from Cultural Perspectives has wanted to even put their own side of the story on record, much less answer any actual questions about the nobility of such an undertaking, or what it is going to cost taxpayers, or how effective they expect it to be.

I was referred on to the media department at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, but my previous experience in attempting to communicate with the sophists employed to spin & shill for government departments lead me to laugh so hard when it was suggested that the functionary from Cultural Perspectives took umbrage & promptly ended our call.

I will persist in getting them to say something other than ‘no comment’, and if they do it’ll be published here.

But don’t hold your breath.


One Response to “Whatever you do, don’t fuck with the narrative”


  1. From the ‘it won’t end well’ file: nurturing callous indifference & passive complicity « Disgruntled Biped - December 2, 2010

    […] banal & vapid cult-of-celebrity hysteria asphyxiates meaningful engagement with the issues, and as i’ve already discussed, ‘real’ news stories are framed in narratives that perpetuate fealty to one over-riding […]

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