Monday, March 06, 2006

Tropfest controversy

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother – the typical Australian journo is so useless that s/he can write a story whose subject carries undoubted interest for any newspaper’s younger-than-boomer demographic, but entirely stuff it up in the execution. And I’m not talking rocket-science here – a few clicks on a mouse, and a real story on Tropfest controversy just about writes itself.

The first story manqué, SMH by journo Alexa Moses, is here.

This is craptacular journalism for two main reasons. Firstly, John Inglis’s protestations about being a film/TV amateur are incorporated verbatim and unchallenged. Plainly, Ms Moses hasn’t got a clue about a common profession of past Tropfest winners#: (you guessed it) film/TV professionals. Nor is such particularly striking or esoteric knowledge – a quick perusal of Tropfest’s rules of entry (PDF) indeed confirms that film/TV amateurs and professionals are equally welcome to enter.

Ms Moses second sin of journalism is graver, in any case. In discussing John Inglis’s actual offence against the rules – self-plagiarism – she ignores an easily-accessible (= to the extent Google may be expected to have, in the minds of its Sydney users, a Sydney-centric, China-style firewall, the following even happened in Sydney, too!) and recent precedent.

Plagiarism controversy, re 2004 Tropfest winner. Surely you could have at least mentioned this, Alexa? And while you’re at it, why not mention the fact that Tropfest entrants using aliases – thus allowing for gender- and ethnicity-bending – is NOT against the rules. Indeed, in the not-so-ancient-past (1997), Tropfest winner Paul Fenech held onto his prize despite his deliberate gender- and ethnicity-bending.

Even without any of the above knowledge, Moses’ “Helen Demidenko” comparison is ridiculous. Helen Darville assumed a fictional ethnic identity which was essential to the marketing of her novel. John Inglis’s film, in contrast, does not depend on its creator’s ethnic alterity (or not).

Also belonging in the journalistic dog-house is Moses’ fellow SMH journo, Garry Maddox. Maddox compounds the erroneous “Helen Demidenko” comparison, and also repeats by implication the “no aliases” supposed entry-rule, this time under the umbrella of a winner’s personal vent against John Inglis. Here’s a hint, Garry: please leave toxic bitching to the professionals; i.e. women, and gay men (amateur male bitching is best left to Cronullans seeking pretexts to provoke pogroms).

In summary, Tropfest may well be a Sydney-centric wank that has achieved, certainly in recent years*, little more than giving TV commercial directors either a leg up, or another trophy in the cabinet. But lest I be thought a bit harsh here, I will admit that Tropfest has had a concrete, broader outcome – each year it takes place, the collective IQ of Sydney goes down a couple of palpable and irrevocable notches.


* Tropfest's brag-board is here (click on 29.11.2005 SONY TROPFEST HISTORY). The only post-1997 main-prize winners who crack a mention – Emma Freeman (Lamb, 2002) and Tim Bullock (Buried, 2003) – have since had bright careers making (unspecified) TV commercials and bad (named) TV dramas.

# Complete list of Tropfest past winners

Sometimes Paul you just rock
Couldn't agree more, Paul. My reviews of Tropfest's overwhelmingly underwhelming finalists is here.
Got here from Crikey. Will return.
Your reviews ARE here, Ed, not IS here. If you're going to join the chorus of voices decrying the standard of journalism, get your own house in order first.
Simple typo, my friend. Impossible to edit these comments, don't you know. Wish I'd noticed it a millisecond before I hit the 'publish' button, not after.

Besides, critiquing typing errors instead of journalistic content, ethics etc. is sooo 'Media Watch' in the late '90s.
By the way, Anon, fxh's comment above is missing a couple of commas. Why don't you give him a good ol' anally retentive rev up too.
Spot on brother.
A couple of months ago my sharp son spotted mick kelty at a breakfast meeting in a hotel coffee shop in margaret river.
He sidled past and read some script on a folder that suggested that kelty was in town to make an address to some meeting that night.
When I rang the young lady journo at the worst australian who was doing the inside cover gossip page to dob him in,she asked-who is mick kelty!!!
she probably thought you meant Mick Keelty...
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