||Year End 2003|
Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Unions: Fightback 2003
Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Politics: United Front
Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
International: Net Benefits
History: The New Guard
Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Review: Culture That Was
The Locker Room
Backs to the Wall
Looking The Otherway At Christmas
Culture That Was
But the rise and rise of reality TV suggested a lack of stories would not deter the viewing public and if anyone really wanted profound comment on the state of the nation they needed look no further than the manicured backyard of our Kath and Kim.
Fresh from winning the Best Drama gong in 2002, the show this year scooped the Outstanding Australian TV Comedy at the Australian Comedy Awards and became the top rating comedy show of 2003. Next year a new reality TV section might need to be created as the show becomes less of a comedy and more of a frighteningly recognisable allegory about the M Generation - M for me, materialism, my backyard, and letting the market decide.
Kath's self-centred daughter revealed the dark flip-side of Generation X. She aggressively pursued her own agenda at the expense of everyone in her path, all but blind to the feelings and needs of all - including herself. While many wrote off the show as an unfair attack on the middle classes, aspects of Kim's character transcended fiscal status, geography, gender and history.
There was a lot to be learned from this familiar creature such as why we had a Liberal Government in power, why we continued to wreak havoc on the environment, and why ... anyway, you get the drift.
Other highlights in the 2004 battle of the realities included Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in which five stereotypical self-parodies attempted to replicate themselves using malleable 'straights' wooed with the promise of free designer goods; Big Brother III, scooped by a chip shop owning suburban lass whose scant use of the English language was more than made up for by her prolific exclamations of "bugger"; and Australian Idol, won by divine Afro-crowned disco dancing Guy Sebastian despite his main competition being endorsed by Bob Carr for being a true blue Aussie.
So popular was reality TV in 2003 that Channel 7's 2004 line-up boasts a mega 14 new reality shows in a bid to play catch-up to Channel 10. Meanwhile Channel 9 will continue to straddle the line between reality, fiction and fake with it's latest offering Nip/Tuck. Centred on a plastic surgery practice the black comedy combined with white-bread drama of this show is compelling viewing despite the unpalatably realistic portrayal of life under the surgeon's knife.
For those seeking culture from places other than atop well-worn couches, Aussie cinemas offered a different view, where escapism pipped reality as the name of the game.
In Ted Emery's The Honourable Wally Norman audiences lived vicariously through the plight of a redundant meatworker who got a shot at running the country when his employer went belly up. Secretary portrayed a strange and kinky relationship that at its core followed some similar pattens to the best of them. 28 Days Later provided a modern horror take on a biological warfare worst case scenario.
Even historical movies got the fantasy make-over, including Ned Kelly, The Night We Called it a Day, and The Hours. Gregor Jordan's take on Ned Kelly was window-dressed with so much fiction the guts of the story was all but spilt. But The Night We Called it a Day met with more success with its quirky take on an already bizarre event, in which Frank Sinatra swapped his place in the hearts of the nation for a spot in union folklore as the man who did it his way and was forced to pay the price by Aussie workers.
But that's all in the past now and it's time to look to the future, for now it's non-ratings season so it's every man, woman and child for themselves.
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