Friday, June 25, 2004

The bunny-eared Catharine Lumby

Sydney academic Catharine Lumby’s particular research interests are (i) teenage girl’s body image (with a special focus on Sara-Marie, from the first “Big Brother”), and (ii) pornography. Although I assume that there is not too much overlap between the two areas of interest, I can safely guess that Lumby must be the world’s number one authority on the Semiotics of Bunny Ears, from the Playboy Mansion to Perth’s white-trash broadacres.

I point out her specialties because it is fair to say that otherwise, she knows shit – as demonstrated by this Op Ed tangentially about Big Brother 4 contestant’s Merlin’s “free the refugees” stunt.

The (unnamed) recent article which so offended Lumby, is here. While I agree that it “epitomises much other media commentary on the subject” – i.e. it is standard baby-boomer drivel – I don’t think that it otherwise deserves any real attention. What Mark Coultan wrote is so ludicrous that he could be secretly taking the piss, in parodying a washed-up soixante-huitard, for all I know or care.

What I do know is that spectacle of middle-aged adults like Lumby, rushing in to defend the heroic idealism of yoof, is altogether unedifying. Particularly when she is not even addressing the said yoof, as demonstrated here:

The reality is, of course, that for every free-love pot-smoking radical trying to smash the system in 1968, there were 10,000 others glued to Pick A Box, wondering whether to vote for the DLP next time and ironing another short-sleeved shirt to wear to the office the next day.

(In case you don’t get it, Lumby is playing a game of boomer-centric “Trivial Pursuit”, masquerading as a joke).

Ha ha, Catharine. You just juxtaposed the typical boomer’s (and mine, and – I’m guessing – your) parents against the soixante-huitard yoof. Gee, you could/should have been a cheesy US sitcom writer – in 1972.

Where Lumby’s “joke” falls flattest is in its the implication that the wheels of fusty-oldster-ism have now turned full circle – 1968’s yoof have now become their dinky, conservative parents. If only it were that seamless; if only there was no middle-bit.

Catharine, you may want to take a look even down the corridor from your tenured (I’m guessing) office in academia. Guess what? Whatever the soixante-huitards have become now is almost beside the point. The fact is that they ruled and rule the world, and – needless to say – they have fucked it up to its neck.

“Ironing another short-sleeved shirt to wear to the office the next day”. In 2004, if only. So go back to your hear-no-evil Bunny Ears, Catharine Lumby.

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