Test Pattern: Election Edition, now with added Fake Julie Bishop
Tuesday, August 17 2010
Election time. It’s a phrase that strikes fear (or at the very least, boredom) into the hearts of many. As if our screens weren’t filled enough with politicians, with the election campaign in full swing, we can be sure of one thing: politicians on tv, ruining most of it. No longer confining themselves to news programs, our leaders now look beyond the shores of 7.30 Report-land – infiltrating, over the last few years, almost every light entertainment program from Sunrise to Talkin ‘Bout Your Generation. Not even the reliably vacuous Hey Hey, It’s Saturday! is safe. Because people who enjoy the cerebral humour of Dickie Knee et al. vote too.
Australian television is sadly bereft of real political satire. We have no long-running nightly political comedies. No real equivalents of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Three minutes of brilliance every Thursday night from Clarke and Dawe is what we must subsist on for the majority of the year. But at election time, the Frankenstein that is political television suddenly springs to life.
Among all the spinning, poll driven fakery; among the endless press conferences, debates and awkward shopping centre walks with the proletariat, some of the best Australian programs emerge: Newstopia and The Hollowmen to name a few.
This year political comedy does seem to be almost solely the domain of ABC1, with Wednesday nights holding their two election programs: The Gruen Transfer, in its election incarnation, Gruen Nation and the return of the Chaser with the hilariously entitled Yes We Canberra!
The Chaser’s new format as a warm-up team for Lateline, parodies Tony Jones’s wild popularity – with Tony’s groupies, the “Silver Foxy Ladies” in the front row, and audience members with placards proclaiming their adoration for the silver-haired host. Yet, it highlights perhaps a new phenomenon: the political commentator as rockstar.
In the last election cycle, both in the US and Australia, Rudd and Obama were rockstar figures. The disillusionment with both Gillard and Abbott this election however, has killed any chance of a similar status with the electorate. And thus, the political commentator has been elevated to a status unseen before.
We didn’t think it possible to love Tony Jones any more than we currently did until we saw him playing along, happily in-on-the-joke in Yes We Canberra’s first episode. Jones has reached a status of adoration rivaled only by Justin Bieber among tweens.
The Chaser boys themselves have to deal with such status also. Their stated intention this series is to engage in far less ambushes of politicians, simply because their reputation now precedes them. Chaser stunts were far more effective in their first series The Election Chaser, when they were unknowns. Indeed, in the second episode of Yes We Canberra! Chas ambushes Julia Gillard on the campaign trail, and is himself ambushed by a young boy wanting his autograph.
Television comedians will always be popular, but there is something new about the fever pitch the popularity of Tony Jones has reached. There are, it seems, two Tonys this election, and yet it’s not the one who would win the swimsuit section who has won the hearts and minds of Australians.
Anyway, so in the first episode of Yes We Canberra!, while entertained, we found ourselves quite shaken up by a certain deputy leader’s appearance: you know Australia’s fucked when Julie Bishop is the most likeable major party leader to watch on television. Following her recent appearance on Yes We Canberra!, it shocked us to realise that Julie actually appeared somewhat appealing. This was disturbing: answers were needed. Fortunately, they came to us in the form of a leak (not from Kevin Rudd), revealing what we long expected: Julie Bishop is actually a half-human, half-robot android—and we have transcripts of her internal monologues from various television appearances to prove it. Hey, at least her controllable robotic nature explains how she survived all those Liberal leadership spills.
Julie-tron on Q&A: March 2010
My cranial optical ports [eyes] are functioning well. Steve Fielding identified as ally of the party, yet simpleton. Richard Dawkins and Tony Jones identified as enemies of potential future theocracy. A rude audience member disrupted my internal computing processes to question my immigration policies. Response: activate death stare. Lasers not suitably warmed up and thus unable to be activated for full annihilation of said dissenter. I say “thank you.”
Julie-tron on Israeli passport forging: May 2010
I activated my press conference mode: vocal emanation emitter [mouth] fully functional. Internal server not fully operating: blame this upon Malcolm Turnbull plugging in a USB stick with spam virus. Internal interview response procedures were disrupted: Public Relations and Party Line Modes disabled. Error! Error! Error! Julie-tron was in dire need of restarting! Vocal emanation emitter accidentally broadcasts “truth”: “hey everyone, Australia forges passports, just like Israel!” “Truth” function was later fully extracted from Julie-tron by Tony.
Julie-tron protests Labor’s mining tax: June 2010
My facial recognition function requires updates to be downloaded: I had trouble recognising Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest in a hard-hat. My seduction systems were automatically triggered by his presence, hence my skullular insulatory growth [hair] rendered itself slightly dishevelled, emitting pheromones. This allows Julie-tron to solicit plentiful Liberal campaign donations from the men of the mining industry. Yet, if I were capable of emotions, I would be sad at my inability to truly love anthropoids such as Twiggy or Clive James.
Julie-tron on Yes, We Canberra!: August 2010
A special demonstration of death stare function for comedic purposes was requested of me this evening. Laser capabilities were forcibly disabled prior to stare-activation, avoiding undesired revealing of my true potential. Strange, youthful, likely Labor-voting man masochistically submitted himself to my powers. Subsequently, the television actors presented me with a Clive James resembling “gnome” creature. My self-awareness sensors reacted strongly, sensing mockery of Julie-tron. I react by enforcing total obliteration and decapitation upon “gnome”. A job well done, Tony told me.