Quick Post: Akerman shouldn’t be wrong about #PeppaPig (#auspol)

In (yet another) post bemoaning bias at the ABC, Piers Akerman has exposed himself to ridicule by claiming that children’s programme Peppa Pig pushes a ‘weird feminist line’.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with the statement, up to and including the adjective ‘weird’ to describe a ‘feminist line’.  That it descends further into a claim about ‘Labor’s Handbag Hit Squad’ should reveal that this is Piers seeking attention rather than making a serious point.

But here’s the thing: both Akerman and the people who are criticising his comment are tacitly agreeing that there would be something wrong about Peppa Pig taking a feminist angle in its show.  ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Piers!’ say the nay-sayers, ‘It is a children’s show and therefore isn’t feminist.’

Why shouldn’t Peppa Pig take a feminist angle?  What would actually be so wrong with a programme that lays the groundwork for indoctrinating children in a particular political construct?

As a conservative, Akerman should be right behind a campaign to indoctrinate children with a set of values.  Instead of having a cry-baby whinge-a-thon about how the ABC is showing children’s programmes that indoctrinate children, he should be front and centre saying: ‘I want to see some children’s programmes that reflect my homophobic, xenophobic, mayonnaise-on-white-bread view of the world.  What I want to see is more Disney cartoons on the ABC.’

Of course, he won’t say that because the current brand of ageing mediocre conservatives believe one and only one thing: that they are not ideologically-driven and that everybody else is.

If only Peppa Pig were unabashedly feminist, we could have a conversation about how ideology works and the importance of ensuring the next generation of Australians grow up with the right values (whatever they may be).  How pleasing it must have been when Piers was raising his children prior to ideology appearing on the ABC.  I, for one, didn’t have any Indigenous people on my television screens when I was growing up.  I didn’t have any of the First Australians telling me that they exist or that they have views or that they have a culture.  No, no, no.  It’s important that children’s television not be ideological (and ‘ideology’ is code for something that belongs to Others).

Piers is actually extremely insecure about the value of his culture.  He wants to win the Culture War by default, denying the legitimacy of any other voice in the conversation.  But it’s an impotent approach to the problem, eschewing responsibility for defending our cultural values, and failing to acknowledge the strength of these ideals.

There’s a difference between protecting the rainforest and defending the dead wood.  Piers, Bolt, and Henderson are definitely in the dead wood territory.  If we’re going to espouse conservative values, we’re going to have to start looking towards a new generation of voices who can engage rationally with contemporary public debates.

And this leads us squarely back to Piers’ major point: the bias problem with the ABC.  For what it’s worth, I agree with him.  Each Monday night, I get the same old progressive claptrap and followed by a few straw-conservatives who belligerently refuse to contribute anything meaningful to the Q&A discussion.  I no longer listen to Hack on Triple J because it’s excruciatingly uncritical.

For what it’s worth, I found it difficult to understand the complaints from the left that the ABC was showing a right wing bias.  The complaints, as I understood them, related to particular journalists, especially Chris Uhlmann.  I came away from those debates wondering if we really had a handle on the language needed to discuss what bias is and how we identify it.

Back to the topic at hand, even when I agree with Piers about progressive-bias at the ABC, I’m blessed if I can think of a solution to it that involve our current generation of conservatives.  Piers himself was on ABC’s Insiders programme time and time again, and time and time again he was a national embarrassment.  I still suspect that he’s invited in order to stir up controversy for ratings.  Andrew Bolt was in the same category.  Henderson — who has a weekly blog in which he pretends to be a dog — sits there on a taxpayer-funded couch and moans for an hour.

So what does Piers want?  More of him and his News Corp mates on the ABC?  Who the hell would watch that?  I wouldn’t, and I’m conservative.

Does he want there not to be an ABC?  In which case, who is going to broadcast cultural events?  The commercial stations?  How long did it take before there was an Indigenous television station, and was it the private or public media which created it?

The lack of conservative content on the ABC is hardly the ABC’s fault when Australian conservatives are such a moany bunch of incompetent sooks.  We have all the power.  See the current government?  They’re our guys.  Did you see what the Attorney-General did as his first act as minister?  He booted out Barrie Cassidy from the Old Parliament advisory council and appointed Andrew Bolt in his place.  We created this mess, nobody can fight us on equal terms, and now we want a pity party.  Harden up.

Before Piers starts blaming the ABC, perhaps he should look a little bit closer to home.

Finally, if people would kindly stop linking to Piers, he will go away.

Author: Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based PhD student, writer, and policy wonk who writes about law, conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. Read his blog at OnlyTheSangfroid. He tweets at @ClothedVillainy

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