Monday, January 02, 2012

When Animals Attack

David Williamson is one of those playwrights beloved of high school English teachers.

His writing is workman-like, his observations of Australian society once sharp and amusing, now seem flabby, shrill, depressing.

Most likely this is because he has lost touch with his audience falling foul, as many TV scriptwriters and playwrights do, of the snobbery that treats those whose patronage provides his income with contempt.

Williamson was featured here nearly five years ago when he bemoaned in print that he had to spend time with the ignorant money-fixated hoi polloi on cruise ship holiday.

Today Williamson is at the centre of another literary slap-down with fellow foul-mouthed, leftist snob Bob Ellis whose writings lurch from arts reviews, politics and social commentary with all the finesse of a man drunk on his own ego.

Professor Bunyip (a bunyip whose turn of phrase is a bubbling wellspring of sharp social observation and quick wit compared with the stagnancy of thought from the likes of Williamson, Ellis, FitzSimons and Hardy) has the background here:

WHAT with the spigot of mates’ moolah turned off, elderly onanist Bob Ellis must have a bit too much time on his hands these days, as he has stepped up those exercises in automatic writing which The Drum finds so agreeable. And since that humble vessel is insufficient to the outpourings of such a cascading ego, Bob also has been alerting the world to his continued presence via a recently launched blog. Things are going well for Blogger Bob, who has not yet learned to link, but who nevertheless celebrated 1000-or-so daily page views by noting his site “just might attract some advertising, from cinemas and theatres, for instance.”

Idle hands are said to do the devil’s work, and Bob’s stubby digits would seem to be the proof of that. Where once Mrs Palm’s ten daughters were able to occupy their few empty moments extracting cheques from a Palm Beach letterbox – cheques drawn against the taxpayers’ account and authorised by NSW Labor pals and his crow-eating cobber, ousted SA Premier Mike Rann – their secondary joy just lately would seem to be the needling of another august presence in the pantheon of Australia’s artistic elite, the fantastically revered playwright David Williamson. Oh, and his missus, Kristin Williamson, is just a bit peeved as well, which is entirely understandable. Even without reference to that billiard table, what respectable matron could tolerate in silence assertions by her hubby’s critic that she and he once fused themselves into a three-day lump of sweaty, socially aware, artistic flesh?
Although the good professor warns against rubber necking at the train wreck to come one is compelled to trawl through the wreckage to see if it is as bad as it appears.

It is.

-- Nora

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