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.