Monday, August 08, 2011


Q&A the ABC's answer to... something, brings out the misanthropist in me. It singularly depresses me where no other program succeeds in doing so. I really, really wish it didn't exist.

I honestly can't handle more than 5-10 minutes of the show at a time. You could criticise channel ten's 7PM project for dealing with serious issues in an off-hand way, but is anybody going to confuse a panel featuring Charlie Pickering and Dave Hughes as a source of legitimate information? No.

But they could with Q&A, the one show on television ever, that I literally can't handle - here is my general experience of the show from the snippets I get before I reflexively change the channel to something that I may actually learn and grow from (last night it 2003's SWAT featuring Samuel Jackson and Colin Farrel on channel GO! a thought provoking movie.):

A young liberal planted in the audience reads a lengthy, loaded and prepared question out directed at the token Labor politician.

A politician bleats out some bleating message that over/under whelms me with its factual dubiosity.

A token comedian says something close to sensible.

Tony Jones redirects the question to a Liberal/Labor party member who proceeds to bleat.

A panalist who's opinion must surely by now be regarded as invalid (eg. John Elliot) voices their opinion.

Some left leaning member of the audience makes a statement-in-the-form-of-a-question.

Those are pretty much all I see coming out of Q&A, which arguably would be better called 'Q' to dispel the misleading notion that any of it's participants may be in possession of Answers.

The show is no Insight, which I also stopped watching, but was in the least insightful. Q&A is not.

Q&A puts punters, pollies and pundits together in the studio to thrash out the hot issues of the week.

It's about democracy in action - on Q&A the audience gets to ask the questions.

It doesn't matter who you are, or where you're from - everyone can have a go and take it up to our politicians and opinion makers.

Energetic and opinionated - Q&A brings Australia's egalitarian and larrikin spirit into the studio.

Q&A is about encouraging people to engage with politics and society.

Q&A is hosted by one of the ABC's most respected journalists - Tony Jones.

Q&A is live to air - it's happening as viewers watch.

Interrestingly, the 'About' page for Q&A doesn't make any claims to impartiality and refers to Australia's 'egalitarian and larrikin spirit' which is quite the opposite of an impartial point of view.

I think people are kind of addicted to argument in some way, but they shouldn't carry misconceptions about how unconstructive the process of argument is.

The intellectual stimulation of creating new ways to defend the stance your ego is invested in can be intoxicating. But argument and 'debate' is an emotional process rather than an intellectual one.

My principal use to make me groan inwardly when he described 'debating as a sport' but nowadays I think he was probably exactly right (if not for the exact wrong reasons). But debating had us defend stances we were arbitrarily assigned for the gratification of winning. I remember shamefully after some debates we lost having sleepless nights thinking about what we should have said and how dumb some of the opponents arguments were.

Similarly what you see on Q&A is people defending and attacking positions that are largely arbitrarily assigned by the ovarian lottery. People tend to defend their moral-geographic-cultural-economic circumstances all of which they had little say in they were just pushed out of a vagina into that life. Few possess any domain of expertise that may make their opinion valid, yet they field questions that demand expertise.

This may go some way to explaining why Q&A (and the media in general) allocates a fuckload of time to issues that are not being resolved by the media on an ongoing basis like the Carbon Tax, Assylum Seekers and the Economy at large.

I feel the audiance comes to Q&A too invested in their opinions to actually be swayed by anything said by anyone on the show, do people watch it with some sadistic bloodlust hoping to see the otherside's champion fall? If so, they must feel some base animal anticipatory gratification watching the show and walk away week after week feeling dissappointed, like pursuing a relationship with a narcissist.

More worrying is anybody who does feel informed or swayed by what they see on Q&A, the logical tactics and strategies employed by the panel members of Q&A are an indictment of either the ABC's audience or the Australian Education system or both. If people with no expertise can convince people to take a stance on such issues one way or another, then perhaps those 'punters' that embody the 'Australian egalatarian and larrikin spirit' should not be engaged and participating in our democracy.

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