The Null Device
John Birmingham puts forward the case that the political right pretty much has a monopoly on humour, with the left having become too puritanical and politically correct to laugh, with the voices that dare to be outrageous being predominantly right-wing, from shock-jocks and reactionary bloggers to institutions like VICE Magazine (infamously offending the uptight by pejoratively calling things "gay") and the creators of South Park and Team America (who skewered Hollywood liberals and left-wing sanctimony alike).
Of course, this relies on a rather broad definition of "right-wing", as anything that goes against a doctrinaire liberal/progressive view of propriety and "political correctness". By this token, one would classify Coco Rosie as a right-wing band, placing them in the same ideological milieu as Pat Robertson and Little Green Footballs, because one of their number attended "Kill Whitey" parties. And while VICE's Gavin McInnes claimed in American Conservative to represent a hip new conservatism (a view he later retracted, claiming he was joking/being ironic), the cocaine-snorting, nihilistic libertinism epitomised in the magazine, as much as it may offend "liberals" (or straw-man caricatures thereof), hardly fits well with the canon of conservatism and its emphasis on values, tradition and authority. However, it does fit in with the recently noted shift towards Hobbesian nihilism and radical individualism.
On a tangent: some American conservatives are concerned about FOXNews' alarming slide to the radical left; the channel, once the shining beacon of all things Right-thinking, has been compromising its Fair And Balanced™ reputation by running programmes on topics such as global warming. Pundits blame the influx of liberally-inclined ex-CNN reporters, the staffers having spent too long in Godless New York, away from the Biblical certainties of the Red States, or Murdoch not really being "One Of Us", but rather a cynical opportunist.
And finally, a study on the neurology of political belief has showed that True Believers of both stripes are adept at ignoring facts which don't jive with their beliefs, and experience a rush in the reward centres of the brain when they do:
"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."
The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say. Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.
The 3RRR summer break is over, which means that the normal breakfast team is back. Which is a pity, because I much preferred Richard Watts' summer guest breakfast show.
Watts is a writer, spoken-word artist, DJ and regular of the Melbourne arts scene; when he spoke, it was thoughtfully, and about things from the arts to current issues. He had other RRR presenters stepping in to co-present, and they were similarly intelligent people like Alicia Sometimes. Though most of the show wasn't talk but music; the music was an eclectic selection, spanning decades, and I don't recall him playing the same track twice; the music was radio programming at its finest, in the same tradition as John Peel.
The three regular breakfasters, however, are the typical crew of professional buffoons, joking and guffawing about current news, sports and pop culture, in a marginally more intelligent way than on commercial radio. The volume of chatter exceeds that of music, and the music is repetitive: they apparently bring in a handful of CDs, choose one track from each and play that week in, week out. I cannot count the number of times I've heard, for example, Wolfmother's "Apple Tree" or Danger Doom's "Space Ho's" (which they played today again) on the show in the past few months. (Not that these are necessarily bad songs, but if I wanted to hear the same "alternative" tracks over and over, I'd buy a FM radio and tune into Xfm or something.)
I'm thinking of reprogramming my RRR recording scripts to skip the breakfast show altogether and wake me to different programmes.