Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter


TV & Radio

Feb 11, 2014

Razer's class struggle: who cares about Schapelle aside from journos?

The tabloids tell us every scintillating detail about Schapelle. The broadsheets tell us the bogans who read the Murdoch press are idiots. They are both completely wrong.

User login status :


The “cultural” reading provided by the nation’s better weekend news outlets is usually bad enough. It seems to focus largely on “critical” interpretation of online dating and the ethics of cooking with quinoa. Last weekend, however, it was especially naff when it was given over to writing about writing about writing about Schapelle Corby.

The term “meta” does not begin to describe this piece by Lauren Rosewarne in The Conversation, which was not actually about Corby — only “cheap” and “racist” media do that! — but about the author’s own experience of writing in another outlet about Corby, which apparently led to someone saying something mean to her on Twitter. The Sunday Age had a more legitimate take on the risks of reporting about Corby as Sins of the Father author Eamonn Duff spoke of threatening phone calls he had received.

That all journalists are likely to receive death threats at some point in their careers notwithstanding, at least Duff could spin a good yarn about the Corby truthers. This was mildly interesting until other Fairfax journalists wrote about Duff writing about his travails, which, to be frank, weren’t ever entirely unprecedented. You point publicly to someone’s guilt, and someone is bound to point back.

But the piece by Rick Feneley used the fact of Corby’s strongest supporters to build his case that the story “obsessed a nation”. And then The Guardian declared Corby a “national obsession” by rehashing the once true but nonetheless very dull comparison of media coverage for Corby as against that of the Bali Nine.

This coverage is as transparent as it is stupid. Talk about having a bet each way. First, liberal media are producing no fewer images or generating any less profitable SEO in writing about writing about writing about obsession about Schapelle. Second, they are saying things, as in The Guardian piece, that are not worthy of a good first-year student. I mean, not to be a dick about it, but these “revelations” that decent-looking young white women get more play in the media as victims or perpetrators of crime is about as fresh as the nasi goreng at Kerobokan.

That it is a stale observation doesn’t make it any less true. Unless, of course, it has become less true — and I genuinely believe that in the case of Corby, it has been less for some time.

I had no sound evidence for my professional suspicion that no one gives much of a crap about the Corby story until the dreadful miniseries Schapelle managed to score less than half of the viewers than the INXS biopic on a rival network. That more people wanted to see a fake Kylie in a bad wig snog some dude who looked nothing like Michael Hutchence than the “real” story of the boogie board bag I think is a reasonable indication no one cares to learn much more about this case.

I have seen in both progressive and conservative media the assertion, respectively explicit and implicit, that Schapelle is a “national obsession”. Rupert Murdoch’s media give us detail on Schapelle. Liberal media give us nothing but snotty op-eds on Schapelle.

“Traditional media do not always take the pulse of the culture properly. They got it wrong again.”

Many of the “think” pieces on Schapelle assert that Murdoch media detail on Schapelle is evidence that people who read Murdoch press are dumb; ergo, Australians who are not Us are dumb. In short, these columns amount to: LOL, look at them reading about Schapelle. Let’s write about writing about Schapelle. To prove that we are not dumb.

They both have it wrong. The purported millions who were interested in Schapelle “unironically” did not watch that silly show. And the readers of The Guardian, The Age and The Conversation and anywhere our worst cultural studies proponents now publicly rub themselves didn’t either. These Enlightened readers clever enough to see that Schapelle is a white woman were most likely too busy congratulating themselves on not watching a show enjoyed by a bogan mindset that doesn’t actually exist.

We have invented an underclass to blame for all our own ugliness.

If you don’t believe me, go and read Fairfax’s The Daily Life. Almost every column is people are so dumb and prejudiced but we’re not”. Ditto much at The Guardian. These publications build on the hideous mass delusion that We are reconstructed while They remain victims of stupidity. These publications have made an imaginary class of bogan our national political unconscious.

Can we at LAST say that the Celebrity Criminal story has had its day and that traditional media have just made another error in trying to extend its life? Can we at LAST stop pretending that there is hard evidence in the culture of boganism?

Traditional media do not always take the pulse of the culture properly. They got it wrong again.

If a bogan is a victim of false consciousness who believes Australia to be something that it is no longer, then all the snobs who congratulate themselves on not being interested in Schapelle in the face of great interest (which DOES NOT exist) are bogan.

I am going to be sick if I read another “we are so much better than the bogans” piece. You know what? THIS is the dominant form of “journalism” that has replaced Celebrity Criminal journalism. Awful pieces of writing that seek to flatter the reader into believing they are better than everyone else.

The commentators intelligent enough to describe the racism, sexism and other systems that actually inform our culture are so keen in seeing it only as the sole work of bogans, they repress all their own prejudice and write a whole load of shit.

I will finish with some search engine savvy keywords just in case I’m wrong: Schapelle Schapelle Schapelle.

Helen Razer — Writer and Broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and Broadcaster

Helen Razer is a writer and broadcaster whose work has appeared in The Saturday Paper, SBS Online, The Big Issue, and Frankie. She has previously worked as a columnist for The Age and The Australian.

Get a free trial to post comments
More from Helen Razer


We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

29 thoughts on “Razer’s class struggle: who cares about Schapelle aside from journos?

  1. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    The website http://www.expendable.tv paints Eamonn Duff’s work on Corby family in a very unsavoury light.

    The website claims that Duff used discredited sources to fabricate smears and spread disinformation about the Corby family. I’m sure Duff is aware of these allegations – he wont sue however because he doesn’t want his work exposed to the exacting glare of a trial.

    The MSM is, as far as I’m aware, yet to reference the extensive work of the Expendable Project even once. Full disclosure of the truth in the broader public domain would extensively damage the all the nation’s major media outlets in a way that would make the recovery of credibility impossible.

    The MSM is in panic mode – the Indonesian establishment has probably released Corby after considering the Expendable Project and its research. They have likely decided that, in light of on their First Lady being spied on and claims that the Australian Navy was too distracted to check their GPS systems, enough is enough.
    The Indonesian elite are probably enjoying some of their own schadenfreude as their counterparts in Australia thrash around trying to contain this. I’m enjoying it too. Its long over due.

  2. Rob Baker

    I truly think that, guilty or not, Schapelle has been the victim of trial by media from the get go. Aussies love to fill up on half a hatful of knowledge so they can wax lyrical about their “informed opinions” later on down the pub.
    The fact is, I caught a portion of Underbelly:INXS the other night and had to laugh at the delicious irony of the scene where the band were forced to scoff down drugs they had “inadvertently” brought into some country. After which, they went on in other scenes to maintain a heroic pace of drug abuse. But then, I guess it’s much more romantic if you don’t get caught out at it.
    Yet wait – the drugs did eventually catch up with INXS, didn’t they? How different the representation of two sides of the same coin. Drugs are bad, mmmkay? Oh yeah, except when the result is a bunch of “classic Aussie songs and memories” we got from INXS, as opposed to ten years of the same old, same old National Lampoons Bali Vacation – which provides the always-ready-to-judge everyday Australians a convenient perch to look down on someone who screwed up. Any chance we get. No matter who we are, where we are from, what class or culture we belong to – that’s one thing that unites us all; the tendency to assume the position of self-righteousness from afar. The media provides the conduit; encouraging Aussies to express the poisonous belief systems we are being raised with that, surprise surprise, can be traced back to years and years of media indoctrination.
    So, what’s the alternative to subscribing to the broadsheet ideology? Listening to those loudmouth morons, Stefanovic and Koch? No thanks. It just beggars my belief that something as trivial as the Corby case has become some sort of dividing line of class distinction. To be perfectly honest, I’d never even lent it that much thought. But now I know that if you are reporting it, you must be much better than the class who’s reading it. What a strange, small world we live in sometimes.

Leave a comment