I woke this morning thinking of Tony Abbott, a rude awakening in anyone’s book.
What a pity Abbott didn’t stay in the seminary, and use the Catholic church as his political playground, I thought. The rest of us would have been spared his rampant ambition, and who cares if he’d trashed the College of Cardinals if they refused him a red hat?
What a pity also, that Abbott wasn’t moved to realise his perhaps most outstanding natural talent, that of thespian.
It’s become clear as we’ve progressed through the tortuous months since the ALP negotiated government, and since the day the LOTO failed to sell his arse in exchange for a ring of another kind, that Abbott has played whatever role his directors believed expedient.
We’ve watched Tony play the part of a highly offensive, sociopathically aggressive ambassador from the planet of negativity, whose speech patterns gave one reason to ponder whether or not the man was severely linguistically challenged.
Personally, I don’t think that role was difficult for him. It seemed to hint at his nature. Now he’s facing a far greater challenge – maintaining the role of reasonable, statesmanlike Prime Minister in waiting. The emperor has new clothes.
I’ve heard Abbott described as “complex.” I don’t see it. Rather, I’d describe him as deeply shallow, so bereft of depth and complexity that he can easily be refashioned into the character his advisors believe he needs to be in order to win power. Abbott is an accomplished progenitor of ersatz complexity. He belongs in a Baudrillard text. I have gazed long upon this man, and I cannot find anything of substance in him. He reminds me of nothing as much as the replicants in the classic film, Blade Runner.
Complexity may well be present in Tony, deeply repressed in the interests of ambition. And in all fairness, he is not alone in his uncanny likeness to a replicant: it seems as if the only way to get ahead in Australian politics is to appear as robotic and unempathic as possible. Complexity, that richly human state, is apparently incompatible with what the majority of Australians want to see manifested in their leaders.
I predict that after six months of an Abbott government, many of us will be begging to have Kevin Rudd back. Mark my words.
I’ve spent much of this last week bed and couch ridden, and fevered with flu. I re-watched three series of The Sopranos, including the episodes in which Tony Soprano, shot by his Uncle Junior, lies comatose in intensive care.
Now there’s a complex Tony. Even his shrink, Jennifer Melfi, is more than a little bit in love with his mercurial personality, though her own shrink, played to perfection by Peter Bogdanovich, reminds her constantly of Tony’s psychopathology, and urges her to ditch him as a patient.
Given his role in the bloody, death-strewn world of The Sopranos, Bogdanovich surprisingly wrote in 2012:
Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, “We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.” The respect for human life seems to be eroding.
As far as our politicians are concerned, the respect for some human life seems to be eroding, while respect for other human life seems to be increasing beyond all proportion.
I had forgotten the haunting Moby song used so effectively to convey Tony Soprano’s state of mind as he wanders alone in the space between life and death. I don’t know that enjoy is the right word, but anyways: