Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Letter To The Aboriginese People

Dear Aboriginals,

We need to talk. We have a problem. I know, I know – I thought everything was cool between us. I thought we’d reached an understanding: you would provide us with entertaining dance routines and skilled footballers, and we would provide you with military incursions into your communities and helpful suggestions on how to spend your money, like the suggestion "You can only spend your money how we tell you to". There was a healthy give and take between you Aboriginals and we "normals", and you’d been nice and quiet for a while, which frankly I found extremely commendable. I really thought we were making progress.

But then.

Then came Australia Day, and the most shameful episode in our country’s history since Manning Clark ate Weary Dunlop live on the Graham Kennedy Show. Now look, Aboriginals, I have nothing against peaceful protests, as long as they don’t actually happen, but no matter what your political proclivities, it is absolutely disgraceful that the prime minister, our sort-of-elected leader, should be subjected to the indignity of having angry people stand near her. Why can’t Aboriginals have some respect for the office of prime minister? Is it because there were no prime ministers 40,000 years ago? You have to stop living in the past, Aboriginals. Today we have prime ministers, and they deserve respect. They don’t deserve to be tucked under the arm of a bodyguard like a Steeden under the arm of Sam Backo (he was a famous Aboriginal footballer, you see – don’t tell me I don’t know how to speak to you on your own terms, Aboriginals).

What’s more, to do this on Australia Day is just bad taste, Aboriginals. It is disgusting that you saw fit to sully this great day which commemorates the liberation of Aborigine Australians. Now I know what you will say – you will say "liberation from what?" Which is understandable – I know you people sometimes have trouble with English. It’s easy for you, in your simple native way, to not recognise what a great day for your race the first Australia Day was. But consider this: if the British had not landed that day and claimed Australia for the King, it might have been the French! Or the Spanish! Or, I don’t know, Filipinos or something weird like that. Would you prefer that? Do you know how hard Filipino is to learn? Especially for people like you who never get into the good schools. I think we can safely say that Arthur Phillip in 1788 saved you from many generations of Eurasian tyranny and difficult verb forms. And it’s not that we expect thanks for it – we just expect a bit of peace and quiet while we are busy celebrating that glorious day. We don’t even mention the fact that a couple of years later you people STABBED Arthur Phillip. With a SPEAR, no less, which frankly is a bit on the nose. And yet we overlook that. We don’t demand a Sorry For Stabbing That Guy Day. We’ve got CLASS, Aboriginals. Maybe you could learn a bit from that.

The thing is, Aboriginals, there is only so long you can go on ignoring our generosity before we start to kick back a little bit. The white man is a proud and noble fellow, who can be pushed only so far. Don’t let the history of the European race fool you: we’re not all sweetness and light. And we’re pretty sick of giving and giving and not getting anything in return.

We came to this country in a spirit of cooperation and friendliness, wanting only to build a great new nation and hopefully escape from prison and live in the bush as cannibals. We built cities, and we let you live in them, even though they did in fact belong to us and building materials are not cheap. We gave you civilisation, and clothes, and an array of interesting new germs to learn about, expanding your experience and making you more cosmopolitan. We even gave you more downtime by providing free babysitting services, often permanently. It is difficult to think of a way in which we white dudes did not improve the Aboriginal lot, and I’ve gotta say, we were pretty shocked when you responded with nothing but whining and carping and dying of the flu. It made us wonder why we bothered.

Really, the whole history of the relationship between Indigenouses and real people has been one long tale of distrust and petty quibbling and ingratitude on an epic scale. And look, we can sit around playing the blame game all day long, but it would achieve nothing. Because we already know it’s your fault. Aboriginals, if you put half as much effort into buying fast food franchises and starting massive multinational mining corporations as you did into protesting and living in squalid conditions, you would all be extremely wealthy like us. But I guess that’s too much to ask, eh? Even after all we’ve done for you.

And it’s like you’re never pleased. We didn’t give you the vote, because we thought it’d be too much pressure for you, given ballot papers often have more than six candidates on them and ancient Aboriginal culture was pretty skimpy on maths. But you didn’t like that, so we let you vote, and then you go find something else to complain and/or die prematurely about. We give you alcohol, and you complain about alcoholism. We take away your alcohol, and you complain about not having any alcohol. We give you the gift of law and order, and then you complain that we keep arresting you without "reasons". Seriously, when are you going to be satisfied? We even agreed to stop calling you "Abos", even though that was a real timesaver and everything takes twice as long now.

I mean, look at Cathy Freeman. We didn’t have to let her on that Olympic team. There’s a little white girl somewhere who cried her eyes out because her place got taken by Cathy. We gave her that place out of the goodness of our hearts. And then, even more generously, we gave her a gold medal – we didn’t even ask her to give it to us when she got back or anything. Didn’t that prove that we were perfectly willing to let Aboriginals do stuff and be on TV and everything? But still you don’t seem happy, whining about land rights and infant mortality rates and basic human living standards and frankly, it’s starting to get us down. It makes us wonder if you were really ready to participate in society after all. We let you, because you’d been fairly well-behaved and we thought it’d be a nice treat for you, but if you’re going to repay us by protesting and stealing shoes, maybe we should reconsider. Maybe it was all too much, too soon. You’ve got to walk before you can run, even when you’re black, I suppose.

The point is, Aboriginals, if you want to keep getting favours from us Australians, you’re going to have to stop acting like such dicks about it. A little grace wouldn’t go astray, you know? A little decency. A little team spirit. I mean, we’re all in this together, aren’t we? Some of us more than others, obviously, but that’s only to be expected because we’re a bit more presentable. You can’t blame us for that – God just made us this way. And he made you that way, and I don’t think we can ignore the implications, right?

You need to chill out, Aboriginals. We’re not asking you to like us – although if you don’t it just shows how mean you are. All we’re asking is that you go about your business quietly and peacefully, and let us go about our business quietly and peacefully, and stop yelling at our prime minister, and maybe, you know, go out to the desert and talk to the birds or something. That’s the sort of thing you guys like, isn’t it?

We just want a little bit of respect and to not have to be reminded of your existence very often. Then I’m sure we can all get along, Aboriginals and civilised humans alike.

Yours tolerantly,

Ben Pobjie (White)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thinking a Bit More

I have been thinking a bit more about Margaret Court. Now, Margaret Court doesn't really matter, being as she is a mad old bat with no more sense of reality in the 21st century than a time-travelling Neanderthal, who thinks it's reasonable to cite the number of Wimbledons won as proof of the correctness one's views on homosexuality. However, I think it does matter how we think of said mad old bat.

Because the thing is, Margaret Court is a bad person. She's not just a loveable daffy old goose who's not quite "up to date". She's not a great Australian who deserves respect despite somewhat "un-PC" views. She's not your grandma. She's nasty and she's hateful and she wants to ruin the lives of perfectly nice, decent human beings purely to satisfy her superstitions. She is a bad person, and it's important we remember this.

And it's important that we remember that in remembering this, we do not get sidetracked by red herrings about "freedom of speech", as those who get a kick out of being as nasty and hateful as Court is try to convince us that disagreeing with her, and calling her out for what she is, is "censorship". It's important to not give ground to those who claim, when a person is given a public platform in Australia's most-read newspaper to spread vicious, senseless hatred, that the "real issue" is whether she's entitled to her opinion. Everyone already knows she's entitled to her opinion, and we're entitled to ours. Which is that her opinion is repellent.

It's important to remember this because this is a matter of progress. The fact is, if Margaret Court had written a column about how, as a 3-time Wimbledon champion, she is absolutely certain that blacks and Asians are disobeying god's law and were an abomination to good Christians, nobody would be wringing their hands about the mean lefties who won't leave poor old Margaret alone. They'd just call her a racist bitch, and rightly so. That's because consensus is that blacks and Asians are people. It would seem that we're not quite there with gay people. It would seem that we still believe that any rights we grant them are our "favour" to the gays. Because gays don't actually deserve any rights or privileges or respect - we're just nice enough to give them a few if we're feeling magnanimous. So if they complain, they're just being whiny. If they object to being labelled evil, or a lesser form of life, they're being ungrateful, or just mean to our great national treasure Courty. We apparently have not progressed to the point where we're willing to say, those folks who like sexytimes with members of their own genital persuasion merit the same rights as any of us purely by virtue of the fact they exist as human beings. They don't need to earn it, they don't need to play nice, or pipe down and smile politely - they just need to be treated the same as everyone else, because that's what they are.

But we're not there yet. And that's why Margaret Court can vomit up the trash that she does, and that's why she can be defended by her fellow bigots hiding behind the skimpy veil of free speech. And that's why we've got to slash that veil to ribbons and tell the bigots that bigots they are, and that they will be left behind while we move on.

And move on we will, and move on we are. Margaret Court and her cohorts lash out like this, because they know we're winning. We're winning and they're losing and every time they scream about immorality or redefining marriage it's nothing but the strangled yelp of a battered old dog that knows it's never going to win this fight. We're winning. They're losing. Our world will move on. Our species will skip happily into the future, and our enemies will be left in the past, whimpering. Margaret Court knows it. They all do. That's why they scream so loud, and cry so pitifully about bullying and censorship when their screaming is treated with the contempt it deserves.

The history of the human race is the long, slow, painful story of society trying to catch up to decency. We're closer than ever, but there's still so far to go. But we're going to get there. We'll reach that peak. As long as we know, when confronted by the bigots and hatemongers who want to drag us backwards, to shout aloud, to call them what they are, take them head-on, swat them aside like the petty mosquitoes they are, and leave them in the dust where they can't hinder us any more.

That's why it's important what we think of an unimportance like Margaret Court. And it's important to say what we think. Because every time we tell the truth about these people, we move that tiniest bit further forward.

To the victory that both sides know is coming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Helpful Guide To identifying Important Opinions From Sporting Champions

Is is easy to see how people could get confused by today's article in the Herald Sun by Margaret Court, in which the tennis legend points out that if we keep letting people put their bits wherever they want to, our children will go blind and nobody will win at tennis anymore. Not that they would be confused by the content, per se: it's all good, commonsense advice for the modern generation and an important message for those hedonists among us who would rather have donkey-orgies than get beaten by a nun.

But it does raise a problematic issue: obviously we know that famous sportspeople are a lot more "on the ball" than the regular chap or lass, and their opinions hold far greater value than yours or mine. But how do we identify which sporting champion to listen to, and if two different sporting champions express conflicting opinions, how do we know who's right? I mean, if Greg Norman writes a column tomorrow telling us all to make bottom-whoopee every night, what are we to think?

It is to resolve this problem that I have embarked on a study of sporting prowess and how it relates to social and political opinion. This is the Pobjie Scale of Sportsperson Rightness.

On this scale, sporting achievements carry a certain value, which contributes to how correct the sportsperson in question will be on any given subject. Margaret Court will always be VERY correct, because she won 24 grand slam tournaments. On the other hand, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt have only won 2 each, so they are 1/12 as authoritative about things as Court. Even if they make a joint statement it only carries a sixth as much weight as Court. So if you ever see an article written by Rafter and Hewitt advocating gay marriage, you can be sure that gay marriage is six times wronger than non-gay marriage, in tennis terms. Steffi Graf won 21 grand slams, so she's almost as correct as Court, but in a face-off, Court still wins. So should Steffi offer an opinion on how to resolve the Eurozone crisis, it will be a good one, but if Margaret Court disagrees, you have to go with the Aussie. Rod Laver of course won only 11 majors, but did complete the Grand Slam twice, which has a multiplier effect. Then again, so did Court, which cancels that out, but the multiplier does mean Laver outpoints, say, Pete Sampras, should they disagree on issues of social and/or monetary policy.

OK, so far, so simple, you say, but what about non-tennis players? How can we compare them? Here it gets a bit more complicated. Allan Border hit 11,174 test runs, which means his opinion is very valuable, but is it more valuable than 24 tennis majors? And what about Heather McKay/Jack Brabham?

Well now we must implement a points system, whereby each sportsperson's achievements receive a weighted score according to difficulty, prominence of their chosen sport, and ability to get their opinions into the paper. Utilising this "Pobjie Scale", we can see that Border's test runs add up to 46 points, or "dinkums", whereas Court's grand slam victories add up to 51. So Court beats Border. What Allan Border's views on gay marriage are I don't know, but if they clash with Court's, he will, sadly, be incorrect.

Shane Warne, though, is a very different matter. His 708 test wickets and 3000+ test runs add up to a monumental 59 dinkums, meaning he is a true opinion leader, or "SuperMargaret". Therefore, if it turns out that Warne is in favour of marriage between consenting sexual unconventionalists, Margaret Court will be rendered incorrect, and must either adjust her views or come out of retirement and win Wimbledon again if she wants to be taken seriously.

Mark Webber, on the other hand, has only 7 dinkums, and can therefore be ignored about everything.

So, next time you see a sporting legend opining on vital matters pertaining to our society, our government, our economy, or our eternal souls, simply refer to the below chart to judge whether you should listen to them or not. In order of opinionistic correctitude, Australian sportspeople run thus:

Shane Warne - 59
Margaret Court - 51
Cadel Evans - 48
Allan Border - 46
Steve Waugh - 46
David Campese - 45
John Eales - 43
Layne Beachley - 40
Dennis Lillee - 35
Ian Thorpe - 33
Dawn Fraser - 31
Greg Norman - 28
Ron Barassi - 25
Makybe Diva - 22
Jeff Fenech - 19
Sam Stosur - 15
Sally Pearson - 12
Mark Webber - 7
Mark "Jacko" Jackson - 2

Armed with the Pobjie Scale, all Australians should know what to think about everything in no time!

In Defence of Racism

Tomorrow is Australia Day, and we all know what that means.


Of course, if most of us were asked the question, "What is your favourite thing about Australia Day?" we would, if we were honest, answer, "the racism". But there's the rub - if we were honest. Yet who among us can truly say that he or she is honest, given modern society's kneejerk antipathy to racists of all kinds?

Yes it is true - racism is frowned upon in today's society. The honest old-fashioned racist is hounded and harassed, bullied into hiding his racism. Why, these days you can't even say in public, "I am a racist", without being painted as some sort of bigot.

And yet, what are we really afraid of? Are we afraid that if racism is let out in the open, different races will be discriminated against? Well, yes, we probably are: in fact it's hard to imagine what else we could possibly be afraid of.

The question is, is this fear fair? Is it justified? Today we preach tolerance of different races, different creeds, different lifestyles; yet somehow the poor old racist gets left out in the cold, walking sadly down lonely, rainy streets, unable to find a place to rest his head thanks to that dread sign hanging outside every inn: "NO RACISTS ALLOWED". Is this really the way we want our society to function?

Let us be frank: anti-racist prejudice is the worst kind of prejudice at all. It denies freedom of expression; it denies freedom of conscience; and most heinous of all, it denies courage.

Yes, courage. For what braver act is there to stand up for what you believe in and speak out against the prevailing wisdom? It takes guts to do that, and our harsh anti-racism stance is telling our young people that guts aren't worth a damn anymore. Oh yes, we might say to our children, "Speak your mind, stay true to your beliefs, have the courage of your convictions", and yet if those convictions are that Asians should go home, or that Aborigines smell funny, suddenly we want our kids to shut up and cave to peer pressure. Somehow, if all the "cool kids" want your child to smoke a cigarette, we fly into a panic; yet if those same "cool kids" are pushing your child to treat all races with respect and dignity, for some reason that's "OK". What kind of message are we sending to our youngsters in the end? Be assured, we are raising a generation of lily-livered poltroons, who will be unable to resist the impending tide of rampant invasions by nations that had the good sense to encourage their young people's natural racism, rather than suppress it. Although I suppose saying that almost every other country in the world wants to invade us due to their inherently animalistic natures is probably "taboo" now too - ye gods, where will it end?

And on Australia Day, the day when we should be feeling the greatest pride and joy in our great nation, this horrid pall of repression hangs all the heavier on us. For as we listlessly poke our sausages and flip our burgers, and mumble hesitantly, "I love Australia", what we WANT to be doing is shouting it to the rooftops. "I LOVE AUSTRALIA," we wish we could cry, "BECAUSE IT'S BETTER THAN ALL THOSE OTHER DIRTY COUNTRIES!" But we can't, because we know the insidious secret police of the PC junta are listening, and we will be shamed and berated for expressing our own natural, healthy Aussie opinions.

And so we hide our racism. We wrap ourselves in flags, stick more flags on our cars, and get Southern Cross tattoos, and cravenly claim it's because of "patriotism". Patriotism? As Samuel Johnson said, patriotism is the last refuge of the guy who doesn't have the balls to be racist. We frantically refute any suggestion that our swathing ourselves in the trappings of Australiana is motivated by racism - "no no, it's just because I love Australia," we wheedle. "I have nothing against other races". But inside, screaming for freedom, is the truth - that every flag we wear as a cape, and every starry tattoo, is just a proxy for the racial hatred that dare not speak its name. And as a result, millions of Australians are made miserable - persecuted for their beliefs, and silenced by militant tolerantists who hate nothing more than free speech and honest self-expression.

And yet this CAN change - and we are the ones who can change it. This Australia Day, don't hide your racism under a bushel. Stand proudly beside your barbecue, take a deep breath, and cry, "I am an Australian, and I hate all races besides my own!" You will feel much better, and you will have struck a blow for freedom.

Being racist is what Australia is all about. Don't let the fascist socialist gay feminist nanny-staters stop you from being as Australian as you want to be.

They're probably all Jews anyway.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Note On Interpretation

It is one of my strongly-held principles, when perusing articles on the internet, to always read the comments. For how else can I discover the mindset of the common man?

And a common theme, when I look through the multitude of cris de coeur at the bottom of these tracts, is that the readers feel that the author believes he or she is somehow "better" than them. That these opinionistas suffer from a superiority complex, and their purpose in writing a given article is to show just how far above the common crowd they are and put the readers in their place.

And unsurprisingly, the readers appear to resent this. I don't blame them, having gained the impression that the writer thinks they're better than them, for feeling aggrieved. So I would like to take the opportunity to send a message to the reading community:

It's all true. Yes, I think I'm better than you. I'm smarter than you, I'm better-informed about the issue at hand, I'm more reasonable in my argumentation, more logical in my thought processes, and morally superior in my worldview in regard to my fellow humans. I'm also far more talented than you, better able to skilfully convey my point of view, more adept at swaying my audience to my way of thinking, and vastly superior to you in my capacity for infusing my perspective with humour. In writing I am better than you, in thinking I am better than you, and in spelling and grammar I am better than you. What's more, I am inherently a better person, and my existence on this planet is of infinitely greater benefit to the human race than yours.

That is why I write these articles. Why else would I? Why would I take the time and effort to craft these masterpieces of reason and wit, if not to ensure that you all get the message of your inferiority loud and clear? Not to mention the wonderful boost to my own self-esteem.

So when you're next reading an opinion piece, and wondering if the author considers themselves better than you, put your mind at ease: they do. And they're right.

Writers: we are better than you, and we know it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sliding Doors...

Ashley Mallett asks what if Warne had played Bradman? And his answer is as elegant and enthralling as any piece which asks what if something that didn't happen did happen and then makes a bunch of stuff up could be. It's just a shame he didn't explore the other possibilities, of which there are many. Such as:

- maybe Bradman would have been caught by Hayden, not Ponting.

- Maybe Bradman would have scored 48, not 49

- or maybe he would have scored 189

- or 257

- 0r 0

- maybe Warne would have pulled a hamstring in his run-up and been unable to bowl to him

- maybe Bradman would have refused to bat due to a sponsorship dispute

- maybe Bradman would have hit the first ball back at Warne's face, killing him instantly

- maybe Indonesia would have invaded at that moment, abruptly ending the match

- maybe the paradoxes of time travel would have caused a rip in the fabric of spacetime, destroying everyone at the ground

- maybe a dinosaur would have eaten them both

- or maybe Bradman would have scored 52

It's fun to imagine things!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An email what I got

A sad reflection...

on the state of Australian society, that a newspaper (Saturday Age) would publish the vile blasphemy of your writing. I do not attend any films, only view those on TV that date back forty years or more, because the modern ones appear to be laden with the sort of blasphemy contained in the article I read. Do not be under any illusion, Mr Pobjie. Blashemers will be punished. In the Ten Commanments, only one carries an extra threat: 'Do not use God's name carelessly, because the Lord will not lightly acquit those who misuse His name' (loose translation of third Commandment). Australia never was, is not now, a Christian country, but all the good things about Australia have come from the Christian influence that was more evident in past centuries.

If you have any moral character at all, Mr Pobjie, I sugest a printed apology would be appropriate, if you ever get to write for The Age again

Athur Comer

Thursday, January 5, 2012


1. No, I have not quit Twitter. But I have felt very much like it on numerous occasions, and vacillated over whether I should or not. Probably if I did my mental health would improve. I have not quit because I enjoy Twitter, and going there to make jokes, find out new things, and chat to friends is fun. This is quite important: I use Twitter for fun. I don't use it to toughen my hdie against attack, and I don't use it as a forum to hurl abuse, and have it hurled at me. I like to go to Twitter to feel good, not to feel bad.

I have a full-time job. Not writing: an actual, 9-to-5, five day a week office job completely unrelated to my writing or my comedy. Forty hours of every week is spent at work. Around fifteen hours a week is spent travelling to and from work. Everything you read that I write, in The Age, New Matilda, King's Tribune, The Drum, Crikey, in my books, on this blog or anywhere else, was written in my personal time outside work. Any time you saw me speak or perform anywhere was my spare time, not my working day - these days I've probably come straight from work: until July last year I would have been going TO work after the gig, as I worked night shift for five years. Time for sleep and to spend with my wife, my six-year-old son and two-year-old twin daughters, is on top of this. What I'm saying is, I don't have a hell of a lot of free time. To spend any of it at all going online to absorb a torrent of abuse from complete strangers would be terribly inefficient.

2. When you tweet to me, you tweet to me. Please keep in mind that what has been grinding me down has not been people talking about me - I don't much mind what people say about me, and even if I did I wouldn't deny anyone's right to say it. But when you tweet TO me, it's addressed to me. You're not talking about me, you're talking to me, and I take it as such. If you are the kind to send abusive letters or make obscene phone calls to strangers, or walk up to people in the street and swear in their faces, then please do keep on tweeting "@benpobjie you are shit". If you are not that kind of person, then please do bear in mind mind that when you tweet that stuff, that's exactly what you're doing, and I'm going to treat you like the rude bastard you are. Talk about me all you like, but please do not expect me to take kindly to people who I don't even know talking rudely TO me. Of course a lot of people will tell me it goes with the territory, but almost all of them will be people who don't have to listen to strangers calling them a misogynist cunt on an hourly basis.

3. This whole storm is NOT about people criticising my work. The debate that sprang up about the word "hysteria" was not sparked by anything I wrote. It was a friend of mine, not I, who wrote the article referring to hysteria. I joined the conversation to defend him and put forward my belief that it was not a sexist remark and not an invalid criticism to make. I still believe that, and presumably so do the many, many people of both sexes who made exactly the same argument that I did. My opinion of what "hysteria" means is, incidentally, based on my experience of the way it's actually used, and the dictionary. Other people differ, and that is fine and I will continue to think they're absurdly wrong and they will continue to think the same of me. But I feel it is quite important to note that this controversy is not based on my own article in the King's Tribune about porn, but on somebody else's article and the furore around one single word used in that article.

4. Anyone wishing to make a point about the article I DID write should note that it is, like most things I write, comedy. This is not a defence against charges of offensiveness, but it is a defence against charges of literally meaning the absurdist jokes within it. If you're going to engage with it, you have to engage with it as comedy, or else you are, frankly, an idiot.

5. Mainly this is all because I said "fuck you" to a beloved Twitter feminist. This was not because I reject the idea of male privilege, because I don't. Male privilege is real, and it is significant, and it is an interesting area of discussion. And I don't need it explain to me, because I've had it explained to me in the past, and I've never once denied its reality and its very real effect on society. But it is not a golden snitch in arguments - you can't produce it and claim victory by default. "You couldn't possibly understand because of male privilege" may or may not, in any given situation, be true, but it is not an argument: it is what you say when you can't be bothered making an argument. Because even if it's male privilege that causes somebody to be wrong, you still have to be able to explain why they're wrong: otherwise you're just copping out (and for one thing, if it's just a case of male privilege, what have you got up your sleeve to shoot down the ten women saying exactly the same thing as me?). I have never, ever, tried to win an argument by telling my opponent, "As a woman you are incapable of understanding". For somebody else to tell me I am incapable of understanding because I am a man, thereby invalidating any opinion I might have on the basis of my gender, is not a serious attempt at debate: it is an attempt to shut the debate down and declare victory by one vagina to nil. Frankly, anyone who does that to me - especially on the end of a conversation in which I've been patronised, condescended to and told that I was letting the world down by not cimply agreeing with what I'm told - is saying "fuck you" to me: and I prefer to just say "fuck you" straight out rather than dance around it that way. Anyone telling me I have no right to an opinion because I'm a man will get the same response every time.

6. I am a feminist. I am not a feminist because feminism needs male allies or because I've decided it's a cool club to join. I'm a feminist because I can't help being one: the way I view the world is simply a feminist one and I can't change that without changing almost every opinion I hold. This doesn't mean I'm always right about gender issues: I don't know anyone who I think is always right about gender issues, so I can't see how it'd be possible for me to be. And the aforementioned male privilege means my worldview is always coloured and I do have to take extra care in examining and testing my own views.

But I am sincere, and I am dedicated, and I am going to keep being a feminist, keep expressing feminist opinions and keep acting in the feminist cause, because it is very important, it is right, it is just, and it is a far bigger deal than my hurt feelings. I've found as a male feminist that you tend to get much more abuse from other feminists than from sexists, but that's life. I may not like it, but feminism matters much more than I do.

I'm also going to keep on disagreeing with other feminists and saying "fuck you" to anyone who disrespects and patronises me - especially if they are going to accuse me of sexism or misogyny. I think I've nailed my colours to the mast with my work. Nobody who knows me personally could think I'm anti-feminist. Nobody who knows my body of work could think I'm anti-feminist. Anyone who does think so is either ignorant, misinformed or just plain stupid. And I freely admit that being accused of bigotry of any kind riles me up something fierce.

7. I am by no means famous, but I am to a certain extent a public figure, and a lot of people know who I am even though I don't know who they are. And I'm still figuring out how to negotiate that, and not get too caught up with the bad stuff. Learning on the job, so to speak. I try to be pretty open and friendly, and engage with the people who read my stuff, because I'm grateful to them and I like the fact my work allows me to meet interesting new people and converse with them. Twitter is great for that, and I don't want to end up with my tweets being reduced to carefully crafted zingers and links to my columns and nothing else, never replying to people or opening up to the public. I want Joe Hildebrand's job, but I don't want to be Joe Hildebrand. I'd rather be able to keep being me for as long as possible. I beg your forgiveness and patience for the fact that being me is often really quite annoying for everyone.

8. Whatever else you think, you can't deny King's Tribune gets people talking. Go subscribe.

9. I suffer from depression and anxiety. This means I sometimes overreact to things, and get more upset than I should. I know this. I apologise for it. I don't want to make excuses, and I'm working on improving in this regard. I don't want people to cut me slack for it - it's just an explanation.

10. I didn't want to write this, and I wish I wasn't, but it seems the affair refuses to die because some people just want to keep it going. Please bear in mind: all that happened was that some people you don't know disagreed with each other about one word, and then one of those people was rude to another one in one sentence on the internet. It's unbelievably stupid that people are still talking about it: it just doesn't freaking matter, people. I'm desperately hoping that by laying all this out I can put a full-stop on it. Henceforth anyone wishing to rekindle the argument will be blocked, mocked, and have their parentage called severely into question. Because I'm sick of it, and almost everything on earth is more important. OK? I'd love to get back to joking about the Biggest Loser and inserting the word penis into movie titles now if it's all the same to you.

11. Thank you for listening. Please enjoy this picture of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe in the Avonlea schoolhouse.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bob and Dave at Home

The front door slammed shut as Bob Ellis, man about town and politico-literary guerilla, announced his homeward return with a hearty, "I have returned! And so it goes!" Placing his ivory-handled umbrella in the stand and doing up his zipper, he went in search of his housemate and best friend.

"I'm in the study," called Dave, "exposing the pretensions of the middle-class!"

Ellis lumbered portentously to the study, where he stood in the doorway, wiping his lips in the manner of man who had written speeches for Whitlam and was a close personal friend of Rodney Cavalier. "What are you working on, Dave, my old friend and sparring partner, man of peculiar talents and even more peculiar flaws, who has profited so mightily from the Australian public even while disdaining them, like a cat insulting the milk it drinks?"

"It's a play!" cried Dave, turning from his brand-new iMac bourgeoisie-processor, eyebrows practically perming themselves with enthusiasm. "It's about how young people don't understand things!"

"Excellent, excellent," murmured Bob, withdrawing a flask of cognac from his hip pocket and taking a long draught.

"Have you had a good day?" asked Dave. "I hope you didn't meet any young people."

"I had an excellent day. I lunched with Bryan and Rachel, then went for ice-cream with Della Bosca and had sex up a tree with someone who may or may not have been Jacki Weaver - I'm not sure, the ice-cream was taking its toll by then."

"Jacki's wonderful," said Dave. "I loved her in that thing I wrote."

"I had a haircut too, do you like it?"

"It's all right, I suppose."

"Robert De Niro said it was the best haircut he'd ever seen. But perhaps you disagree."

Dave sighed. "Come clean, Bob. We all know what this is about. You've always been jealous of my beautiful, thick hair."

Bob scoffed, as he pulled a bottle of Merlot from his jacket and sucked it down. "I would hardly be jealous of that hair, Dave - it's lowest common denominator hair. Your showy, obvious hair has for decades been holding back younger, more vibrant hair. I'm quite happy with my own hair - Jack Thompson likes it for one, as does Sigrid Thornton, and Bruce Spence, Ray Barrett, John Wood, Robyn Nevin, and Rolf de Heer. Who likes your hair?"

"EVERYONE likes my hair!" Dave exploded, leaping from his chair and brandishing a rolled-up Quarterly Essay threateningly. "My hair has embodied the hopes and dreams of middle-Australian barbers for forty years!"

There was a tense moment, as Bob swigged from a jar of rum and Dave absent-mindedly wrote on the wallpaper, "Idea for play - uni students: idiots?" The tension was broken as Bob burped nobly, and announced, in that thunderous voice that spoke of a man who once had tapas with Neil Kinnock:

"It's time for dinner!"

Dave, jolted out of a reverie in which he had been mentally constructing a scene in which some teenagers failed to appreciate the importance of famous writers, nodded. "Yes - I made spaghetti."

"Spaghetti?" spat Bob with the kind of disgust only possible in a man who had written many award-winning films. "Why on earth would you do that? I don't like spaghetti. It speaks to me of nights alone in Pisa, staring up the leaning tower and wondering, when will people learn? When will they learn that capitalism is nothing but a con-job? When will they learn that this pasta they crave is just the device of wicked men in love with their own avarice? When will they realise that while we eat spaghetti, millions of Hazara peasants die simply because of our own failure to pay independent filmmakers enough to ensure we can make films about Hazara peasants dying? Spaghetti? Spaghetti is representative of the whole dirty, corrupt, money-hungry, pestilent, rotting, award-winning filmmaker-hating husk of modern democracy. And it's a pity."

Dave stood, hands on hips, petulant as the youth who still didn't know how smart he was. "Well, spaghetti was in the cupboard, Bob. What was I to do?"

Bob paused mid-sip of vodka. "You could have done many things. You could have run down the fish and chip shop for some blue grenadier. You could have got some Chinese. You could have called Domino's and had pizza sped to our door like Phillippides's message of old. You could have made a shepherd's pie, ignoring the plutocratic lure of nouveau cuisine. You could have whipped up a chicken curry, like my old friend Don Chipp did the night we found ourselves lost at sea after a drunken carouse with Louis Nowra led to a perhaps ill-conceived plan to sail to Canberra and punch Ros Kelly in the face. You could have written more plays about good, wholesome working man's fare like pies and chips, breaking the stranglehold of Mediterranean culinary entropy that has this whole nation in its grip, even to the point of allowing this snivelling eurotrash harpy Gillard to impose her sniffy big-nosed chicanery on us all. You could have done all, but you did not. And it's a pity."

But Dave was already gone, to the dining room, where he sat beneath the enormous portrait of Ben Chifley giving Arthur Calwell a piggyback ride, weeping into his bolognese. Bob found him there, and sat across from him, sullenly digging a fork into his bowl, even as he drank deeply from a box of warm riesling that he had found in his shirt pocket.

After a while Dave could stand it no longer. "Bob!" he ejaculated. "I will stop making spaghetti when people stop eating it! I don't claim to be a great chef, Bob, but people eat my food, and they seem to enjoy it, and that's not my fault Bob. I don't make spaghetti for you, Bob, but for those little people out there who gain nourishment and enjoyment and a sense of soft-left superiority from it, and I'll be damned if I stop making spaghetti simply because bitter old lefties like you need to vent their spleen at those whose spaghetti always came out better-seasoned than their own. You know full well you'd never even have made spaghetti without a grant from the Spaghetti Council."

"And why not?" Bob roared. "Maybe if the government put more money into funding innovative spaghetti auteurs and less money into drowning brown babies at sea, we'd be in better shape. But I suppose if it were up to you, we'd be eating this bland suburban spaghetti until the day we die, swallowed by an enormous ginger vagina."

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. After dinner, both men sank deeply into the Jason recliners with satisfied-yet-regretful sighs. The TV was blaring, and for a few minutes they watched in silence.

"This is rubbish," said Dave.

Bob nodded. "It's very poorly written. They should have gotten a marvellous writer in, like Phillip Adams."

Dave nodded. "There is no witty, sparkling dialogue in this programme. It completely fails to show up the hypocrisy of the aspirational classes. Where are the McMansions?"

"This is nothing like the Wharf Revue," said Bob. "Modern television has nothing closely resembling the Wharf Revue, and it's a pity. I watched an entire episode of The Wire the other day, and not once did anyone do a Bob Brown impression. It's disgraceful. Fucking Gillard."

Dave nodded. Bob nodded. They both nodded. They stared at each other. Bob took another sip of the Viktor and Rolf cologne he'd found stuck down the side of the chair. David quickly wrote a play about non-goverment organisation office politics. A commercial for erectile dysfunction came on. They copied down the number. They nodded some more.

"Dave..." said Bob.

"Bob..." said Dave.

"Dave, I find your tired, unrealistic, cliched characters unbearable..."

"Bob, your bloated, self-obsessed polemics have become intolerable..."

"Dave, your contempt for the artistic community is revolting..."

"Bob, your insistence upon your own significance in matters of history is appalling..."

The world held its breath for a moment, and then...they were upon each other, grappling mightily in each other's arms, lips and tongues urgently exploring each other in a conflagration of burning leftist passion. Shirts were rent asunder, pants tugged at with the desperation of second-wave feminists clinging to outdated conceptions of women's place in political discourse.

"Bob..." Dave whispered.

"Dave..." Bob hissed, the desire carried aloft on fragrant bourbon fumes.

"Comrade..." they breathed in unison, as their progressive, influential bellies gyrated against each other, flesh slapping on flesh, and body mingling with body, till finally, they were no longer Bob and Dave, but simply Dob, or Bave, and they became one, coupling and uniting like the perfect synthesis of the Great Man theory of history and Keating-nomics, and their great literary bellows echoed throughout the night until, spent, they collapsed in a pool of sweat and socialism on the fireside rug, gazing into each other's eyes and panting with lust and exhaustion and angina.

"Dave," murmured Bob, caressing his old sparring partner's eyebrows, "do you think they'll ever understand?"

"No," Dave returned, making finger-circles in Bob's grey chest hair and tracing the outline of the tattoo of Kim Beazley's face that resided there. "They never will."

"Ah, me," Bob sighed, "it is hard indeed that in this day and age we find ourselves beholden to such minor, diminutive folk, who fail to appreciate the importance of a good political insult, or a book of essays, or a little-known movie. Hard it is to tolerate being ruled by the petty and the small-minded and the female who do not understand the burden we bear."

"The burden of history."

"The burden of genius."

"The burden of sociological perspicacity."

"The burden of enjoying blow jobs from pretty young women."

Dave stared into the fire, a single tear rolling down his cheek. "Things have changed, Bob."

"Indeed. The world no longer knows how wonderful we are."

"Oh well, what can we do, but keep on complaining?" Dave looked down. "Ready to go again?"

"In a minute," replied Bob, furiously poring over his autographed Kristina Keneally calendar. "In a minute, Comrade."

And so it went.