captain cook statue graffiti
A recently defaced statue of Captain Cook (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

“Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?” Nobel laureate Bob Dylan warned journalists half a century ago in "Ballad of a Thin Man".

This past week’s carry-on -- from Gone with the Wind to the Cook statues and on to Basil Fawlty -- is best understood as that sudden moment when all the Mr Jones in Australia’s media discovered that somehow a major cultural reset has been going on without them.

It’s not unusual for journalism to be slow to keep up with Australia’s changing understanding of itself. Historically that understanding travels on a long, imperfect arc through music, academic research, feature film, books, even advertising and television, long before it lands on the news desks to be integrated into daily journalistic practice.