By Michael Jensen.
If you turn on the television to get a laugh, you’ll probably find yourself getting scolded by a self-righteous prophet of liberal pieties instead, writes Michael Jensen.
Is it just me, or have the comics of Australia turned into preachers, moralisers, and puritanical do-gooders, whose mission in life is not to make us laugh but to tell us what to think?
Now, at one level, this is exactly what good comedy does. It exposes folly, and helps us to see with moral clarity what is right and what is wrong.
But when it comes with a veneer of hip – from a dude in torn jeans and dreads, or from a guy in a natty suit on a yoof program sponsored by the government – then it feels like a bait-and-switch tactic.
Turn on, tune in for a laugh, and find yourself laughing at those with whom you disagree because, apparently, they are scum. They aren’t cool, like us. You know, you and me, who just know so much better. Ha ha.
Exhibit A is Tim Minchin. Minchin is fancied by his fans as a latter-day William Gilbert. But doggerel sung to piano by a man trying to look like a waif is still doggerel. Rhyming it and singing it doesn’t make it true, or even witty. He picks an easy target – Cardinal Pell – and heaps invective on him. Well, maybe it was deserved, but it was scarcely courageous, or radical, or outlandish, and it was as strong a piece of sanctimony as heard from any pulpit.