Originally published by Situation Theatre 21/07/2015
This was first written during Choppergate, just before the fall of the great economiser Bronwyn Bishop and the great statesman Tony Abbott. In a week when we all became a whole lot more afraid of the NRMA, it’s pretty clear not much has changed.
Satire has officially gone well beyond its tipping point. In the years of Howard, Rudd and Gillard, satire was about irony, ridicule and exaggeration. Nearly two years into Tony Abbott’s joke Prime Ministership, popular satire now rests on a more straightforward premise: accurate description of government policy.
Take some of these headlines from two of Australia’s prominent satirical news sites, The Shovel and The Backburner:
Public Now Forced To Imagine What Atrocities Government Committing On Manus Island
Environment Minister Puts 35km² Hole in Environment
Q and A Vastly Improved By Politician Boycott
Party Championing Freedom of Speech Makes It Illegal To Report Abuse
GST To Rise In Conjunction With Poverty Rates
Under Abbott, satire has become a list of empirically true statements. As a result, news outlets have grave concerns that actual headlines won’t be taken seriously.
Look at these for example:
Poor People Don't Have Cars, According to Joe Hockey
Coal is Good for Humanity, Prime Minister Tony Abbott Says At $3.9b Queensland Mine Opening
Prince Philip Awarded Knight of the Order of Australia By Prime Minister Tony Abbott
ABC of Jihad
Bronwyn Bishop Spends $5000 on 80km Charter Helicopter Flight From Melbourne To Geelong
In light of the fact that satire is now just news, and news itself is satirical, perhaps it's best to close this satirical-come-factual-description-of-trends-in-satire article with a riddle. How many more joke headlines about Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter trip will it take to come up with something funnier than the fact itself? The Shovel and The Backburner are trying to find out:
Bronwyn Bishop Starts Day By Smoking Huge Joint Made From Ground-Up Taxpayer Money
Choppers and Champagne: The Bronwyn Bishop Diaries
Turnbull Says It's Absurd To Charter A Chopper From Melbourne to Geelong: "Why Not Just Use Your Own"
On Probation Bronwyn Bishop Restricted To Travelling At $80,000 An Hour
Bishop: "Helicopter Ride Was Necessary To Avoid Having To Travel Like A Peasant"
Bishop Unable To Hear Calls For Her Resignation Over The Helicopter Noise
Bishop Latest MP Bishop Refuses To Eject From The Parliament