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The Forum > Article Comments > Ratbags at the gates > Comments

Ratbags at the gates : Comments

By Helen O'Neil, published 17/3/2009

In an era where returns on public sector spending are measured those in the creative arts must show they are embedded deeply in community life.

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I certainly agree with everything this article says, but I also feel that articles with more of the 'ratbag' in them are also needed at this time in the public forum.

While the official line filtering down from top leadership seems undeniably to view the arts as 'decorative indulgence' , the feeling in the community not only absorbs this idea but, practically, regards any form of artistic expression firmly in the category of 'hobby'.

Given the current economic worries parents are likely to be more concerned that their offspring learn skills for the so-called 'real world' and that any real effort to educate in a more holistic way is a waste of time.

So we need more ratbag teachers too. Teachers who can inspire and inflame young minds...though the possibilities of such teachers in the current system is limited in the extreme.

The article confessed early on that it was difficult to explain the what the importance of the Arts was and I think that's the rub. Unless one is preaching to the converted, any rhetoric, discussion, push or programmes for the Arts continue to be ignored in favour of 'real' issues.
Posted by Romany, Tuesday, 17 March 2009 11:11:18 AM
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Helen O'Neil: "...the defence by artists of Hensonís work, as the product of an elitist group too blinkered to recognise the pornography and sexual exploitation of children that was obvious to ordinary Australians".

If we re-examine the various Henson defenders and apologists, it becomes clear that very many if not most of them actually comprised a group (not mutually exclusive) whose members would fit far more accurate descriptions such as arts bureaucrats, liberalist pundits, journalists, academics, lawyers, cultural commentators, and even ideologues. As we can see in Croggon's case, artistic pursuit was arguably not her "day job" when measured against her far less aesthetic earners as a bureaucratic functionary.

That was one of the main problems with the so-called "Henson Debate": a crowd of networking, bureaucratic luvvies hovered about in a cause celebre that did very little to examine its own case, and tolerated absolutely no dissent. Hence the widespread public perception of a degenerate elite simply preoccupied with guarding its own "turf" or sectoral investment of self-interest.

Conspicuous examples demonstrating the above situation were:

1) Famously transgressing artist Ivan Durrant and his publicly expressed opposition to Henson's preoccupation with naked children. On being referred to Durrant's case, Hensonites simply refused to discuss his dissenting opinion! Many others alluded to the cowed mutterings of Australian artists, long appalled by Henson's artistic child porn.

2) Avowed "lefty" journal Overland making a blanket hagiography of Henson, and smug, imperious attack on his opponents. Croggon's own CV apparently reveals clear networking "luvvy" status in Overland's past schmoozes.

Therefore, O'Neil could add that The Yartz in Oz have another, perhaps even bigger, problem in their very institutional and hierarchical blinkering, and moated siege mentality. That may better define the actual type of "elite" in question, and it seems to refer little to actual "artists", but much to just another kind of aspirational and expansionist herd.
Posted by mil-observer, Tuesday, 17 March 2009 6:37:21 PM
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