I don’t know whether I have ever been to Wentworth during my visits to the Enlightened East. But oh, ye Gods, I hope someone will start offering guided tours so I get a chance to sample the delights. And someone had better start writing the soap opera of the election antics in Wentworth. Correction, it’s already written itself, but someone -¦ please, someone -¦ put it on screen! Give it a few months, but once the entertainment value of the formerly-liberal party’s current self-incineration has worn off, we must remember and cherish Wentworth for what it’s worth.
It is difficult to pick the high point of events, owing to the plethora of choices. For starters, we have the spurned lover who was running against the Labor candidate (or was he the spurned lover? Who knows, this will have to be resolved after much suspense in Episode 13). I never understood why this personal affair (or termination thereof) was of such great political import, although one might argue that the focus on two environmental candidates who jilted each other (apologies to one party or the other) brought new meaning -“ and carbon-free entertainment -“ to the word tree huggers.
Perhaps this emphasis on trees would be a good opening episode; a smooth seduction into the area’s Leafy Liberal neighbourhoods whose trees are crying out to be hugged amongst their frigid surroundings, juxtaposed with contrasting shots of the electorate’s more -¦ ahem -¦ free-wheeling areas in which trees have a generally more ambiguous sexual identity.
Then we have the leaked email exchange between a journalist at a newspaper that clearly transgressed the boundary between a jocular conversation and, well, what exactly? Blackmail? Intimidation? Clash before comments? Anti-Semitism? This tantalizing question that is to be resolved in Episode 19 sets the stage for the climax of the series -¦ or does it?
Another possible candidate for the winning moment is the so-extremely-well-targeted accusation by the Labor candidate’s political opponents, delivered by the nation’s newspaper in its traditional obedient service, that the candidate employed a staffer with anti-Zionist views. This explosive high-impact accusation fizzled a bit once people recognized that the candidate in question is Jewish himself. So now we have a Jewish candidate who is accused of -¦ voluntarily surrounding himself with anti-Semites or anti-Zionists. How utterly damning, really.
Just a suggestion to whomever launched this attack; it might have been more successful, and in preferable synchrony with the ex-Prime Miniature’s how-dare-you-annihilate-me campaign, to accuse the candidate of surrounding himself with members of the Labor party. Overall, one suspects that the people behind this journalistic coup must have been smoking something a lot stronger than broccoli -“ and I bet they are Tough on Drugs too. This delicate interplay between public and private morality might form the basis of Episode 21.
Lest one stop there, we have -¦. THE SLAP! In broad daylight, by the aforementioned award-winning journalist, at a polling booth, in front of witnesses. I have been unable to ascertain whether the journalist has resurfaced since then or is now permanently submerged in the editorial swamp at the nation’s newspaper. Oh my God, now that surely must be the highlight of the whole saga! How can one possibly top that? In fact, this climactic moment could be strung out over a few episodes because scribes at the national newspaper seem to have a worrying proclivity to physical aggression; so we ought to dedicate an episode to a colleague’s drunken and televised attack on Mr crikey.com.au. That episode could also weave in another subtle moral dimension because said drunkard later revealed Mr Rudd’s humanity to us all by reporting his visit to a strip club in New York. Scary stuff, better put that one on after the 10 o’clock news. But back to THE SLAP: What a fitting end to a series in Episode 34 -“ but wait -¦ no, it’s not over yet.
Because, Wentworth is blessed with the opposing candidate known as the Rain Maker. A multi-millionaire by trade, full of sympathy for the common man, even if the common men are liaised in homosexual unions. (The latter considered a notable weakness by many members of his extremist Tupperware Party). In compensation for this mark of weakness, the Rain Maker spent $10 million of tax-payers’ money while the government was in caretaker mode to bankroll -¦ the investigation of an untried Russian technology that aims to trigger rainfall from the atmosphere, even when there are no clouds, in the words of our soon-to-be-defossilised Auntie. Wow.
Lest you think that this is an isolated, brazen but perhaps brave, attempt to extend the frontiers of science, it must be noted that the Rain Maker also redirected $50 million of public funds for the national climate change adaptation centre, against scientific advice, from a consortium involving ANU, UNSW, and the University of Melbourne to -¦ ahem -¦ a university in a Liberal seat in Queensland. Rain Maker indeed.
To top it off, a little while ago, the Rain Maker, true to his ambition-before-brain style, has also thrown his hat in the ring to compete for the nation’s most poisoned chalice: namely, the position as leader of the Decimated Tupperware Party. And that, without a doubt, is a fitting end to the Wentworth series (Episode 54), and the beginning of another soap opera that will capture the nation for years to come. No, I am not referring to the Rain Maker’s leadership of the opposition, but to the delicious shredding of one Tupperware leader after another by the unflappable Kevin 07 and the Heffernan-buster Julia 16 (or thereabouts).
Thank you, Mr Howard, for the thoroughness of your demise, which has accelerated the country’s much-needed transition from a sick and twisted re-run of the 1950s to a resumption of modernity.
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky is an Australian Professorial Fellow at the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia. He has been researching people’s memory and cognition for over 20 years and occasionally comments on public issues from a scientific perspective, although in this case the need for satire was greater than the need for science.
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