8 Sep 2006, Comments Off on In praise of raving ratbags

In praise of raving ratbags

Author: Helen

Pavlov pretty much has the Irwin-vs-Greer thing nailed: One one hand, you can’t really argue with what Greer said in her Guardian article following Steve Irwin’s death. Irwin may have done a bit for conservation, in a theme park-ish kind of way, but when it comes down to it, his career was very much about Steve Irwin. But still, publishing a scathing piece like that when his wife and daughter’s grief is still so raw is a failure as a human being rather than as a writer. The guy down the road might be a complete dickhead in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean I talk loudly about his failings in the presence of his widow of one day and distraught little girl. Someone – sorry, I’ve lost the reference in all my googling and reading– remarked that Greer, like Irwin, lacks boundaries, and I think that’s the key to it.

This was Germs’ Baby-Bob-and-the-crocodile moment. Both Greer and Irwin, desperate to show off their mastery of their respective skills, forgot about judgement. Susoz points out that the Grauniad actually commissioned Greer to do the piece, which is an important detail I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Still, she could have refused.

Ever heard of a thing called projection, where sometimes the thing you hate the most is something you see in yourself? I can’t help thinking that Germs and Irwin are not opposites, but very alike.
Larger-than-life self-promoters. Prone to engage in ridiculous stunts (Irwin and his son with the croc, Germs on Big Brother). Ratbags. Larrikins. Mug lairs who like to shock. I’m surprised that Greer doesn’t have any insight into how alike she and the Crocodile Man really were. Unfortunately, I’m less surprised that her critics don’t see that. One reason is that the Aussie Larrikin image is heavily gendered. “I find it impossible to imagine that any woman would be hailed as a “typical Australian” in this kind of way, let alone about 50% of the population who aren’t blonde ockers,” says Susoz. She’s right.

So as soon as I saw Germaine’s article in the AGE the other day, my head was in my hands, because, as Pavlov puts it, I knew she was going to, as Pavlov says, stir all the knuckle-draggers up. And by crikey! she did. Because people somehow identify Germaine Greer with “feminism”, as if she was some kind of Australian Oracle on the subject, it was the cue for a slew of comments about hairy armpits and nasty wimminists hatin’ on our beloved national treasures™.

Trouble is, I think with her ability to irritate just about everyone (including old patriarchy-blamers like me), and her penchant for speaking her own mind about our sacred cows, she is just as much an Australian institution as Irwin was. She’s a real ratbag and an eccentric, and we need them in these carefully marketed times.

B-b-Bernice Balconey (no relation) has more.

Comments (0)

  • Cristy says:

    Great post. I just finished one about Birmingham’s attack on Greer and then had to amend it to add a reference to your post because it related to much to what I was trying to say.


  • shula says:

    beautifully said.

  • Helen says:

    (shuffles feet) Aw, thanks!

    OMG, that Birmingham article was feral. Another clear case of projection.

  • Armagnac Esq says:

    More than anything the whole episode yet again demonstrates the dire lack of competing media in this country.

  • wbb says:

    I like Greer very much. Those big intellectual egos. Hughes, James, Hitchens etc. Their politics and manners are secondary – their monstrous minds thrill me. I’ll never forget the exruciation when Jana Wendt interviewed Greer in Oxford. What a missed appointment of minds.

    But you’re right, Helen, it must be bloody frustrating having Greer on the Girl’s Team sometimes. But the net score has got to still put her well up, I’d have thought. And let’s face it, someone was going to react with intellectual, snobbish bile to the manufactured semi-mass hysteria over Irwin’s tragic death. So it may as well have been Greer. A dirty job, but deep down we all wanted someone to do it.

  • Serendipidity says:

    We do indeed Germaine Greer … only to show how many crazed rednecks there are in Australia and America who are ready to attack and mob-kill anyone who even so much as criticises their kind, as rednecks do.

    Steve Irwin was not a leader of rational humans; if you search the web for anti-Greer posts you’ll see what I mean. …. are there that many petrol station attendants on this earth who did not inherit a crocodile park!? … and therefore see such an irksome media-hogging clown such Steve Irwin as some kind of success God?

    It’s not the post-mortem attack (awww Stevo doy’d ya bitch), and most of these people don’t care about animal welfare, but the attack of a stereotype who is afterall not so stereotypical. Frightening isn’t it? More frightening than Steve Irwin himself.

    It’s not just a delicate lack of competing media, but a real lack of a decent common denominator intellect in the media, … the level of intellect is appalling. And to create and nuture Steve Irwin who after all turns out to be a need!

    I have cable: I watch Animal Camera. That’s how you do it nowadays: you send in a remote camera – to the depths of the oceans six kilometres deep; into underground caves full of sleeping baboons, wherever … and you watch, monitor and record and comment from a control station.

    I was glad someone said SOMETHING! I couldn’t stand it. But if I was Germaine Greer, I would have said something worse. F*@k the media.

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