The spectre of Murdoch stifles comedians

Michael Hogan writes: Re. “An Australian Colbert? We’re too cruelly irreverent for decent satire” (December 19). There could be another reason there is no Australian Colbert or Daily Show, and it has to do with he who controls what we see and hear. Both those shows are hugely popular, and both take huge amounts of piss from the “unfair and unbalanced” “Faux” network, owned by one R Murdoch. Not even Crikey journalists (obviously with an eye to damaging the potential of their future employment with the great man) dare tell the truth, let alone take the piss from the great man.

Our own version of Faux, “pie in the sky”, and its associated “experts on Australia’s 24-hour news churner”, provides glorious fodder for satire, piss-taking and character assessment. Where are our comedies, let alone our political satires? Over his dead body, by the looks of it.

The PR machine and mediocre movies

Cameron Bray writes: Re. “Anchorman and movie marketing” (December 19). James Burke with his “comedy is subjective” piece kind of misses the point of Guy Rundle’s pop at Ron Burgundy. The well-made point was that we are in a sad world where full-spectrum PR dominance can make films assume putative pop-cultural status (and thus drive bums to seats and DVDs to baskets) unrelated to (and indeed, given the need for the effort at all, in inverse proportion to) their quality.

My favourite recent example is The Great Gatsby. It was quite hallucinogenic to read, within the same newspaper, excoriating reviews of it as a gobbler of career-ending proportions alongside space-filler puff pieces about some aspect of “flapper style” that was back in vogue thanks to the very same customer-proof stinker.

The so-called world food shortage

John Richardson writes: Re. “How a Tasmanian data project could save the world” (December 19). It’s hard not to despair at the profound ignorance that continues to fuel the commonly held but erroneous belief that the world is suffering from an acute food shortage, when the absolute opposite is the case.

Instead of lauding well-meaning but misguided programs like the Sense-T Project in Tasmania, which aim to increase agricultural productivity but which ultimately succeed in only quickening the rate at which the quality of our pastures are depleted while adding more unnecessary cost to the supply chain, Paddy Manning and the World Bank would do better to recognise that the real challenge in feeding the world’s population lies not in growing more food, but in building more effective supply chain solutions.

In its latest report published in September of this year, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that one-third of current world food production is wasted, costing the global economy more than US$800 billion annually.

Instead of parking more ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, surely it’s time to build a fence at the top?