Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bob Katter’s pixellated degenerate art show

Gotta love a good degenerate art show – the early-warning canary in the fascist-state coal-mine. Timing is everything with these shows – put ‘em on too early, and you’ll be laughed at, or worse, accused of promoting the very degeneracy you aim to get more people to shudder at. Too late is not such a problem, but by then every non-degenerate’s degeneracy sensors are set to hair-trigger, anyway.

I am truly baffled by the pixellation of the two royalty-free stock-agency photos* Katter’s party bought and used in its now-infamous campaign video. The two photos don’t show anything ruder than the upper bodies (originals have been cropped to delete the waists) of two shirtless men (i) lightly hugging and (ii) giving/receiving a kiss/peck on the forehead. Oh, and with a rather non-homoerotic prop wedged firmly between them in both photos – an inverted fruit-basket**, which happens to look like a moulded plastic bustier with exaggerated boobs and a pregnant belly. The pixellation is definitely of the "bustier", but also – whether incidentally or deliberately it is hard to tell – of the joining hands of the two men. Perhaps the pixellation is to stave off any accusations of Katter’s promoting gay degeneracy in general, or more particularly, foreplay involving fruit-baskets (which may be an endemic Queensland perversion to be stopped in its tracks at any cost, for all I know).

The best comment I have seen on the fracas comes, strangely enough, from Queensland Labor (caretaker) Premier Anna Bligh, who said the ad was “bizarre” and “way, way beyond what we expect in a political campaign”. The same article also points out what most commenters have skipped over – that Campbell Newman’s implied degeneracy goes past supporting gay marriage (and inter alia, illicit acts involving fruit-baskets), to his HANDLING A SKIRT. I’m no expert, but the skirt in question looks like it may have been the height of bogan fashion c.2002 – as to what fetish this skirt-handling further incriminates Newman in, I quake to even speculate upon.

Otherwise, John Birmingham, calling the two men in the photos “a bit sad and pixelatedseems to confuse the edited images with the quite decent resolution of the originals – in which the men don’t seem particularly sad, either. But the shocker award for saying “Yes, I can SEE the degeneracy”, when no one else can, including the actual curators, must go to Michael Gordon with Michelle Grattan. Gordon and Grattan describe the Katter video showing “a shirtless gay couple, one significantly older and more anxious than the other”. WTF? While I can see the age difference (I’d guess it as early 30s vs late 40s), I simply cannot see that the blank stares of the two guys (in the non-kissing photo) materially differ on the anxiety-meter. But then again, if you turn from the original photo to the Kattered one, a pixellated fruit-basket could be like a Rorschach blotch, a window straight into the viewer’s subconscious. In which case, Gordon and/or Grattan’s subconscious seems to belong in that special hell where bogan skirts c.2002 go to die – or not.

* Hat-tip to John Birmingham

** Click on video (of Channel Ten breakfast show interview with French photographer Franck Camhi)


Bustier pic link added – bustier is by Jen-Paul Gaultier, it (or another one) is in the collection of the NGV Melbourne.

This afternoon saw a quote emerge that I couldn’t have expressed better myself:

"This sort of vilification should not be tolerated. We live in Queensland, not Russia."

That was Katter party State leader Aidan McLindon today, calling for federal communications minister Stephen Conroy to ensure the ABC reinstate the stood-down Suzanne McGill, when all that ABC (casual) employee McGill had done was an outside-job, paid voice-over for a party-political video ad. Since it is quite possible that McGill had nothing to do with the offensive visuals (more than sound) in the video, I'll leave her role at that.

But as for Aidan McLindon: separation of powers – or basic ethics – has never been Queenslanders’ strong suit.

Further update 27 March 2012

Melbourne Uni legal academic David Brennan points out that Franck Camhi would appear to have legal redress against Katter’s party for the derogatory treatment of his photographic works. Here’s hoping that, with Katter’s party now represented in Queenland’s parliament, they get held to account.

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