Friday, June 11, 2004

Paul Watson admits “I was wrong on baby boomers”

Yes, it’s true – stereotyping people on the basis of age is intellectual sloppy. More immediately though, attributing behaviour to a class can result in an epistomological catch-22: when the stereotypical attributes are found in an unusually high degree in one individual (member of the class), there is simply no adequate word to describe him/her.

Hence, I need to say here that baby boomers generally are fine and dandy. But Melbourne’s Professor Sam Ball is not one of them. On the contrary, Ball is a fuckwit of monstrous proportions, a living testament to how some soixante-huitards deserve to be force-fed until they choke on their little Robert Pirsig chapbooks.

In 1968, Ball was in America, working as “director of research and evaluation” for a proposed children’s television show, “Sesame Street”. Which might actually make him too old to be a boomer, but I’m going to go with a hunch, and put Ball in that job at 22 y.o. Ball’s smugness is a giveaway here:

[W]e made a major effort to develop a values orientation . . . “Sesame Street” decided to show children of different backgrounds playing together. It also decided to show preschoolers that it was OK to make mistakes when you are learning. Think Big Bird.

But these kinds of decisions were based on the views of parents and not just the whim of the writers or producers.

Oh, how truly radical – Ball and his team of underlings decided to include black people on a kids show! And not only that, their decision to do so was certifiably whim-free and 100% parent-approved.

Taking Ball’s argument to its logical conclusion, each children’s television show in Australia should have a full-time Research and Evaluation Department*, to develop and refine a “values orientation” based on the continual focus-group testing of parents.

Some would call this a pointless waste of money, but living the high life on the taxpayer teat comes naturally for Ball, then and now (he is currently CEO of the Victorian Board of Studies, the body that sets the school curriculum).

As to why Ball simply presumes that in 2004, Australian parental-values recoil in horror at the sight of a lesbian couple (with children!) is a moot point. My guess is that his much-vaunted parental-approved thang for “Sesame Street” was a crock to begin with, and Ball’s Research and Evaluation Department was never too concerned with the wearing-down-the-shoe-leather stuff. Certainly, a goodly proportion of white American parents would have, in 1968, thought that showing black kids playing with white kids was, to use the modern term “political correctness in the extreme”.

But hey, that’s Ball, and a minority of baby boomers for you. They spent their youth in cushy jobs in which they only had to pretend to work, and then towards the other end of their working life they get immense satisfaction by pointing out how wrong some things are, and how they could and should be fixed by throwing money at the problem and employing arrogant young tossers.

Professor Sam Ball – what a piece of vapid, self-righteous scum.

* Ball’s job was no pilot-project-only one: the position of director of research and evaluation at “Sesame Street” apparently continues to this day. Nice work if you can get it.

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