Of all the journalists pounding Melbourne's pavements in the quest for a good news story, surely the hardest working of all is my good colleague Staff Writer.
Here's SW's latest offering - an emotionally-worded opinion piece on the current round of arts funding by the City of Melbourne:
"This weird waste of ratepayers' money to stack and unstack 1000 house bricks is an insult rather than the recognition of honest labour it is supposed to be." It is pleasing to see Staff has moved from reportage to art criticism, divining the intentioned significance of the artwork in question and judging it a failure (before it actually exists).
"The money would be better spent on a brick wall in a hospital or a school." Again, facts give way to opinion, demonstrating SW's fierce willingness not to play by the stuffy 'rules' of journalism.
"Sadly, those in charge of the arts program are serious." Here Staffie is Sad, which makes us all sad. Except for the fat cats in City Hall who are too busy being Serious to be Sad.
"Surely anyone walking past a building under construction would be more impressed with the city's progress and the labour of those involved than stopping to watch a couple of amateurs pull down what they have inexpertly put up." At least Staffie has the triumpant visual narrative of builders to bring the cheer back into that art-ravaged heart. In a clever twist, the sentence itself is as grammatically unsound as the bad construction work SW decries.
"DO YOU SEE THE ERROR?" "I SEE THE ERROR LOL" "WAIT GUYS I DON'T SEE THE ERROR WTF"
"Another brick in the wall, as we are reminded by the Pink Floyd song, is to cost ratepayers $5500." I'll pay that because it made me laugh. The Pink Floyd reference makes no sense. The only way I can see this sentence working is if it was amended to "The project will cost ratepayers $5500. In unrelated matters, "Another Brick in the Wall" is the title of a suite of songs by the British band Pink Floyd."
"I have become comfortably numb (to your bloggy moaning)."
"Homeless men, some of them presumably hungry, will be encouraged 'to share stories about food and family, eventually producing a cookbook.' The money would be better spent on meals for the homeless, alcoholic and drug-addicted men it is meant to help." WALKLEYS AHOY.
Senior Herald-Sun writer Fiona Hudson updated the story this morning.
You can read it yourself. It doesn't need criticism here. But am I the only person to find a "bizarre" and "unusual" gender subtext to the reporting?
"Melbourne tradesmen said they were baffled at the decision to give two women $5500 to build walls that would last only a few hours."
Is the piece only baffling to men? Why reiterate the fact that the artists are women when it's been mentioned twice already?
Most baffling to me is the way the article seems to fall back on a particularly insidious discourse of beseiged blokes (tradesmen, homeless men) suffering because of women. The arts are characterised as feminine and then associated with emasculation, wastefulness and elitism.
I guess I have to agree with commenter Fred Nurk of Melbourne: "ALL ART IS SH*T, ALL ART IS A WASTE OR RESOURCES, ALL ARTISTS ARE WANKERS AND DO NOT VALUE ADD TO OUR SOCIETY."
Let's cleanse our minds of all this.
HEY HEY IT'S THE GAS AND FUEL BUILDINGS.