If I can risk a little self mockery, it seems that our forum doubles on Mondays and Tuesdays as a self-help group for those who can’t believe what Q&A did this time, and surely this is the last straw. This observation ties in with a consensus I have witnessed in private conversations amongst contributors to The XYZ, and public discussions on our forum; that many of us still hold a deep affection for, or what used to be, the ABC.
We love Landline, Macka, British Television, Stephen Fry, Australian Story, The Couldabeen Champions, Classic FM, Peppa the Pig…. But that is how the ABC gets us. All good abusers know that if they are an asshole all the time, all but the most masochistic will abandon them very quickly. So they give us what we want and make us feel good about ourselves some of the time, (but are an asshole for the rest, if not most of the time). The ABC will lull us into a false sense of security, that maybe it has learned to behave, or that all that nastiness was just in our imagination, but then Emma Alberici will ask an accusation-as-question to the Federal Treasurer and the ABC has just crapped all over our boundaries, otherwise known as its charter, yet again.
When we accuse the ABC of bad behaviour it plays the victim and projects its own disfunction onto its critics, making out that we are the bad guy, claiming we are the ones trying to censor it, by making it adhere to its charter to be more impartial. It refuses to give ground, knowing if it can stall for long enough, we will eventually give up and accept the status quo, at least until the next Monday night. Outright denial gives way to false or half hearted apologies, burying corrections about what the PM actually said and not linking them to the original article.
At all times there is a subtle gas-lighting, with a lefty subtext underpinning most programming; whether it is the opening sentence in a news bulletin stating the the Prime Minister’s comments have been criticised; the ubiquitous “tolerance” themes of its dramas; the audible raised eyebrow in Margaret Throsby’s Midday Interview on Classic FM when someone challenges her assumptions; and this has nothing to do with Islam.
Emotional blackmail is employed, imploring us Helen Lovejoy-like, to please think of the children, who will be devastated if we lose Peppa the Pig. The ABC states that its independence is paramount, akin to the timeless baloney excuse, “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” We are told that if the ABC is privatised, it will no doubt fall into the hands of Murdoch or his ilk- “I’ll die if you leave me.”
When we examine why we keep going back to their ABC, or why we just shut up and take it, I think it is because we are still in love with what the ABC used to be – Big Bird and Elmo, superb cricket broadcasting, even that brief stint when it telecast the VFL. The ABC has changed, man.
It is time to take the only action that truly works against an abuser, and go No Contact. The government has tried to put conditions on its going back to Q&A, and already the ABC is playing the victim, accusing the government of trying to control it. We all know that once Q&A feels comfortable, it will revert inexorably back to its old tricks. One feels like shaking the Liberal government and screaming, “Why do you keep going back?”
We should accept that no amount of care, of understanding, listening, reasoning, pleading, bargaining or cajoling will make the ABC change. It is time for us to stop watching it. Stop funding it. Let it continue to be, on its own. When we stop feeding it, it will thrash around for a while, demand our attention, accuse us of abandoning it, stalk us, threaten us, promise it has changed.
But stay strong. It will get easier and easier each day without the ABC. Yes, we will miss the good bits. But eventually we will be able to move on and meet a public broadcaster which is the opposite of everything ABC, in The XYZ.