Film & TV

Oct 4, 2011

Actual intellectuals with passionate arguments = best Q&A ever!

I make no secret of my opinion that Q&A is the worst show on Australian television. But a politician-free panel redeemed the ABC show last night.

Mel Campbell — Freelance journalist and critic

Mel Campbell

Freelance journalist and critic

I make no secret of my opinion that Q&A is the worst show on Australian television. In a previous Crikey piece, I blamed this on our increasingly anti-intellectual culture, calling the show:


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34 thoughts on “Actual intellectuals with passionate arguments = best Q&A ever!

  1. Leon Lefonque

    Great review.
    Real intellectual discussion without the politically orchestrated tweet.

    Thought it was interesting they did not show the audience break up at the beginning of the show.
    Something like 60% some brains, 30% no brain, 10% brain dead!

  2. Phen

    For the first time in a long time it was thoroughly entertaining.

    Agree completely about the superficiality of the Twitterfeed feature too.

  3. Simon Roberts

    I completely agree with this, a great qanda, and now back to ignoring it. If they had real intellectuals on every week to stimulate and engage I’d be hooked.

    The tweets across the screen are so distracting and annoying, especially when you have people you really want to listen to and then reflect on what they have said. I am coming to the conclusion that “comments” on the internet, whether through twitter or affixed to a newspaper webpage etc, are a totally worthless addition to the store of human knowledge and wisdom. Part of that is the anonymity of those who post and therefore the lack of repercussions for the rudeness and vileness, in a way you couldn’t get away with in real life. Shut them down! Oh, that includes this. Bugger….

  4. Son of foro

    I welcomed Greg Sheridan’s comment that ‘democracies always tell the truth’. I look forward to News Ltd’s celebrating that, no, in fact Julia Gillard is not a liar.

    “The Twitter commentariat is possibly the worst thing about Q&A. ”

    Amen to that! Is it so hard to listen to people speak for an hour without having to remind the world that you exist?

  5. Nici

    I rarely watch it (for much the same reasons, twitterfeed included) and nearly turned off because of Greg Sheridan. But I thought Zizek would be worth a look last night.
    And he was. And so was everyone else, bar Greg Sheridan. Really, no offence to Sheridan, but couldn’t they have chosen an Australian intellectual of the same quality as the rest of the panel ie not a journalistic hack.
    Next week, I’ll be pressing off again (especially as there’s no horse-fucking on Deadwood to watch instead.)

  6. Scott

    “When Eltahawy brought up that religion is institutionalised in US foreign policy, Sheridan accused her of making up a quote from George W Bush”

    Well, the quote that God told Bush to invade iraq is heavily in dispute. A palestinian politician (Nabil Shaath) made the claim in 2005 in a BBC documentary which discussed a meeting between the PLO and Bush in 2003. However the quote has been denied by the Whitehouse and also by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (who was present at the meeting). Even Shaath has backtracked saying he did not believe the words were literal, but a reflection of Bush’s committment to a palestinian state. No transcript of the meeting, or varification of the quote from another source has even been released.

    So Sheridan was right in that the quote’s authenticity is murkey at best. Being an expert on the middle east, Eltahawy should have known all this.

  7. zut alors

    @ 1.34pm Leon: They did have the audience breakdown, the numbers were similar to the usual demographic.

    This is a fine review. I thoroughly endorse the criticism of the tweets being distracting. The one exception last night was that gem from Ben Pobjie mentioned above (calling it Oliver Reed’s last great acting role as Slavoj Zizek).

    Two suggestions to Q&A:
    – drop the twitty tweets
    – ban all politicians (unless retired, then they have the guts to be frank).

  8. zut alors

    @2.26pm Scott: Assuming Sheridan is right, if G0d didn’t tell Bush to invade Iraq he shouldn’t have done it.

  9. jungarrayi

    Best Q&A ever? Probably, but the one with the writers wasn’t bad either.
    It’s the usual twideldee twidledum politicians using Q&A as an extension of the infantile point scoring question time, that usually spoil matters. Politicians please note: the programme is called Q&A, not just Q.
    If only they’d answer the questions, it would result in a vast improvement.
    Rob Oakshot (last week) came accross pretty good; it is refreshing to see a politician that thinks sticking to his principles (whatever they may be) is more important than winning the next election.
    As for Tony Jones, if he’d stick to being clever and funny (which he can be), and not let his prejudices get in the way by cutting off discussion whenever he does not agree with what is being said, Q&A would be less painful to watch.
    Living in a “Prescribed Area” under the NT Intervention, I find it hard to forgive Tony for the Lateline programmes he hosted, that were one of the triggers for the NT Emergency Response and that subsequently were shown to be in the same league as the Golf of Tonkin, WMDs and the Children Overboard.

  10. jeebus

    @Scott, it was not a surprise to anyone that religion drove Bush.

    And there’s more than one anecdote regarding his justifications for the Iraq invasion.

    “In the winter of 2003, when George Bush and Tony Blair were frantically gathering support for their planned invasion, Professor Thomas Römer, an Old Testament expert at the university of Lausanne, was rung up by the Protestant Federation of France. They asked him to supply them with a summary of the legends surrounding Gog and Magog and as the conversation progressed, he realised that this had originally come, from the highest reaches of the French government.

    President Jacques Chirac wanted to know what the hell President Bush had been on about in their last conversation. Bush had then said that when he looked at the Middle East, he saw “Gog and Magog at work” and the biblical prophecies unfolding. But who the hell were Gog and Magog? Neither Chirac nor his office had any idea. But they knew Bush was an evangelical Christian, so they asked the French Federation of Protestants, who in turn asked Professor Römer.”

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