It’s a sad indictment of the mental prowess of the people who run the Australian media that they seem to think hiring people who work in an industry to comment on that same industry is in any way useful to their readership. Oh sure, we can see how they’d come to that conclusion: who better to dissect the foibles of a specialist area than someone intimately involved in that area? It works for sports coverage after all, right?
Jesus fucking wept. Look, in sports coverage you’re hiring old farts who no longer play the game to cover a game they know well. When you hire Jazz Twemlow of ABC2’s The Roast to comment on television, you’re asking a guy who still plays… wait, “Jazz Twemlow”? Give us a minute here.
And we’re back. Anyway, thumbs down to The Guardian AU for hiring a working television performer – ok, yes, at least two of those three words are optional extras in this case, but you know what we mean – to write a hefty chunk of their television coverage. Did no-one think this would give off the appearance of someone favouring his mates and taking a swipe at his foes in the business of which he is a part? “Conflict of interest” is still a thing, right?
Sure, he’s focusing his ire on soft targets like reality television and overseas imports, possibly to avoid such a conflict. But what if the readers of The Guardian AU want to read about local comedy? Even if he could somehow guarantee that his coverage was 100% fair and balanced and not even slightly tainted by, say, the fact that if The Chaser and Mad as Hell were both to somehow get the chop The Roast would obviously yet pointlessly be promoted to the big time on ABC1, the people behind the other shows would be entitled to be somewhat pissed at having a rival pass judgement on them. Unless he only ever said nice things, and we’ve already got enough of those “critics”, thanks.
And yet this screwing over of readers and rival shows is a regular feature of the Australian television critical community, mostly because most of the members of the Australian television critical community are desperately working to remove the word “critical” from their CV. Is it general knowledge that Fairfax daily TV critic Ben Pobjie is a contributing writer for the ABC series Reality Check? You’d think it’d be the kind of conflict of interest they’d mention in every single one of his reviews, but it seems not.
Again, this is the kind of thing where people say “as long as he’s not reviewing his own show, where’s the harm?” Here’s a clue: it means that Fairfax’s TV critic isn’t reviewing a program being broadcast on the national broadcaster. Reviewing doesn’t run along a scale from “this thing is awesome” to “no comment”, despite what a shitload of people out there would like to have you think – including, it seems, the nations top movie critics. Sometimes a negative review is appropriate. And with Pobjie writing for Reality Check, it’s not going to get one from him.
“But what about you losers,” a fictional tough guys says, lurching out of the shadows and gesturing wildly at us, “we don’t even know who you really are – you could be Rove McManus for all we know!” Good point. Fuck, but The Project is shithouse, ey? Guess we’re not Rove then.
The big difference between us and these guys is that we run a blog about Australian television comedy and to the best of our ability we cover as much Australian television comedy as we can. You can read our opinions and decide if we’re right or wrong. These guys are professional television critics who seem to be deliberately ignoring at least some of Australian television comedy due to conflicts of interest.
Hey, here’s a crazy idea: maybe next time, hire television critics who can actually do their damn jobs.