Prime Minister Rudd’s was the first politician to plunge into the Henson outrage. Confronted – we are told – for the first time on Friday morning with some Henson images, he declared them revolting, and that they had no artistic merit. I’m not sure I disagree, but when it comes to art I don’t even know what I like, let alone know much about it.
Jenny Macklin put it best when she linked the images to the apparently remorseless s-xualisation of adolescents – especially girls – in the media. In that context, Henson’s work isn’t much different from what looked like a thirteen-year-old model pouting from the Weekend Australian Magazine’s fashion page. Which doesn’t make it OK.
But Rudd’s apparently instinctive moral reaction – strongly reminiscent of his predecessor – shouldn’t surprise. What did people expect from a church-going Queenslander? Hasn’t the “cultural community” been paying attention since the December before last? Rudd was never going to be anything other than wholly mainstream on such matters, and on the conservative side of the mainstream.
Moreover, in an era when men are afraid to touch the kids they coach, or play with, or teach, for fear of being labelled a paedo, what politician is going to stand up for the right of men, no matter how renowned in the artistic world, to photograph naked adolescents?
And Rudd would have to, Milne suggested, explain the behaviour of the ALP candidate in Gippsland, Darren McCubbin, particularly “in the context of his condemnation of Bill Henson’s “pornographic art” (quite why Milne uses quotation marks isn’t clear, since Rudd didn’t use that phrase, but anyway).
I got all excited reading the headline of this article, “Labor candidate’s platform for pervs.” What had Milne dug up now? Was McCubbin supporting Bill Henson? Had he given some furniture the nasal once-over? Had he proposed a Wild Western Australia-style threesome to some staff? Alas, not quite.
Apparently McCubbin is a director of a local cultural festival, and last year the festival included a group who sang a bawdy song. And worse, this was “in the middle of the conservative rural electorate.” Apparently the cockies can’t handle songs about c-cks.
Let’s hope they didn’t put any Shakespeare on, then. The Bard is full of rude bits that might upset those allegedly fragile rural minds.
Quite why Rudd has to “explain” what some people sang in a festival of which an ALP candidate was a director isn’t quite clear, but Milne seems damn angry at the Government. Perhaps they’re not treating him with the respect to which he feels entitled.
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And Milne also offers this cryptic line. “Labor’s Victorian headquarters is in West Melbourne, spitting distance from the inner-city theatre district. Which might explain McCubbin’s tastes.” What’s that supposed to mean? McCubbin’s ALP biography says that he is married with two kids. But he likes theatre. You know what that means, right?