Dr Stupid is the second most popular attraction on Crikey after Hillary and has filed an excellent column this week on repetitive columnists and an assortment of other media goodies. Our Dr Stupid goes some way towards replacing the long lost Media Watch.

Would you expect to be paid for doing this? Of course you wouldn’t. Nobody gets paid for doing work that has already been done.

Nobody, that is, except for Australian journalists. Listen up, News and Fairfax – one reason why newspaper sales keep falling is because your opinion writers keep writing the same dull space-filler all the time.

Mike Gibson, the Daily Telegraph sports babbler, began his Wednesday column with: “One of the oldest sayings in football is ‘what happens on the field stays on the field.'”

Readers knew then to brace themselves. What followed was the one billionth sports column about how the ancient code should be abandoned. Gibbo rehashed lines we’ve heard so many times we are able to recite them from memory: on-field assaults can end professional sports careers; people would be charged if the attack happened on the street rather than on a field; players should be brave and name attackers.

In writing this, Gibson was doing work that had already been done. Even the Headline – Breaking The Code – had a rotten, aged stench about it.

Hey, smack fiends! Peter Fitzsimons has the cure to all your problems. The Sydney Morning Herald intellectual unveiled his astounding plan last Tuesday: Let’s legalise heroin!

Before you explode with shock at this never-before-considered notion, please listen to Mr Fitzsimons’ inventive, original arguments:

One: Legalising heroin would “remove its dreadful glamour.” (Bet you’ve never heard that before, you prohibitionist monsters!)

Two: Legalising heroin wouldn’t send the wrong message to kids, because kids see heroin everywhere anyway. (So what? Kids in the southern US used to see lynchings. Is that any reason to legalise murder?)

Three: Because the existing laws don’t work, kids lose respect for the law. Therefore, the law should be abandoned. (Fitzy hasn’t realised that this argument could also apply to speeding, shoplifting, cheating at bingo in fact, to almost any common crime.)

Four: Legalised heroin would have to be regulated and taxed, which would torment dealers out of business. (Sure it would. As if people who don’t care about the threat of arrest and prison would panic over a few little tax laws.)

Five: Money spent on the war against heroin could be spent on other important things, like hospitals. (Which is just as well, because they’d be loaded with dying junkies.)

Six: Legalising heroin could not possibly be worse than the current situation. (Bullshit.)

Quite besides Fitzsimons’ flawed logic and arse-up reasoning is his major crime: we’ve read all this stuff before. Fitzy even uses the old “smoking behind the boys toilets” line to illustrate the appeal of the illicit on young minds.

That car is finished, Peter. Go build a new one.

Amid this welter of deja vu, Phillip Adams at least takes a novel approach. He recycles his own material.

In his March 31 column in The Australian, Adams attempted to draw a link between cricket and Christianity. “The three pieces of wood at either end of the pitch represent the Trinity,” he wrote. “The bails that link the stumps? They represent the Nicene creed. The red ball? His Satanic majesty.”

Adams first made these laugh-packed observations about 20 years ago. Since then he hasn’t even bothered to come up with a one-day version of his Christian-cricket crap. What does the white ball represent – the Virgin Mary – is chapter 10, verse 26 of the Book of Job (“He has described a circle upon the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness”) a reference to day/night matches and the field restriction circle?

Put your hands up in the air – or, better still, shove your fingers down your throat – if you’re sick of columns about eating disorders and excessive female skinniness. The Age obviously isn’t, although there is nothing new to say on the subject. “Once and for all, can we sew this one up and get on with our lives?” asks the London Guardian’s Shane Watson in the first paragraph of a piece run in last Tuesday’s Age. She then went on and on and on about it for another 600 words. Please, Shane, let us get on with our lives!

The Logies are corny and embarrassing. Every year someone writes this. This year it was the turn of Michael Shmith, The Age’s popular spelling mistake, to indulge in some old-fashioned Logie-moaning. Remembering a long-ago Logies night, he wrote: “The only highlight was, on the way out, when I found myself alone in the lift with Paul Hogan. ‘Going down?’ he asked, somewhat curiously.”

More curiously, The Age ran this on page one of its Saturday edition. Curiouser still, how can someone be alone in a lift if someone else is in it?

All of these writers are paid to come up with new, vivid, entertaining commentary. Instead they offer scabby, shop-soiled, seen-it-before screeds. Like used car salesmen, Australian journalists are flogging secondhand goods.

Meanwhile, in the media’s spare parts bin:

* Strangest Q&A question of the week was from the Daily Telegraph’s Michelle Cazzulino, who asked Rove McManus: “So what’s it like being important enough to have your own website?” Dr Stupid tried to ask the same question of Mayne, but his secretary refused to put through my calls.

* The Australian’s Emma Tom, sometimes accused of writing too much about herself, last Saturday wrote about Kylie Minogue instead. Tom claimed Kylie had the “ability to overcome a daggy start to her career, then stretch that career over more than a decade”, sneered that Kylie’s voice “had all the timbre of a party whistle”, and dismissed her as a “highly financed mediocrity.” Hmmm. Looks like Tom was actually writing about herself again.

* Headline on page two of Wednesday’s Australian: “Telegraph editor gets Post in NY”. Headline on page six of the same edition: “Post illnesses a ‘coincidence'”.

* Crikey subscriber Stephen A. noted a telling line in the Sunday Telegraph’s list of Kylie’s tour engagements: “1:30pm: Interview with A Current Affair. Meet disabled fan.” That plucky Mike Munro he’s an inspiration to us all.

* Another Crikey friend points out that Sydney Morning Herald TV critic Doug Anderson went nuts again last Wednesday in one of his reviews, raving about the need to protect Australian cultural values. This was in a review that recommended a film made in, um, Argentina.

* The ABC and the SMH share many high profile staff. Might the SMH therefore be inclined to treat gently any ABC personalities who find themselves in troubled circumstances? Exhibit A: Last Wednesday’s SMH report on ABC cricket commentator Greg Matthews being charged with drink driving made no mention at all of his ABC role, merely describing him as a “former Test cricketer.”

* “Slater shows the stunning reflexes which make him such an outstanding Test cricketer,” ran a caption in Friday’s Tele. Too bad the pic showed him dropping a catch.

* The Tele’s Voteline is still drawing minimal responses. A Crikey correspondent suggests this is because the questions readers are asked to vote on are too wordy and formal. A look at last Thursday’s question, on the reduced beer excise not being passed on to drinkers, backs him up: “Wouldst thou quaff a yard of ale at the public house of an innkeeper in whose character lurketh the unseemly taint of usuriousness? Well, wouldst thou? Yes ? 1900 969 520. No ? 1900 969 521.”

More mockery to come next week. Remain vigilant.

Email us at [email protected] and we’ll pass through straight through to the Stupid Doc.

Peter Fray

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