Matthew Reddin

About Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

The ‘Bird of the Year’ poll has been hijacked by politics, because of course it has

Proving that we can’t have nice things, The Guardian’s meaningless Bird Logie has devolved into a partisan squabble.

 

 

A weird confluence of events happened this morning. One of the more amusing handles I follow on Twitter – Sweary the Bear – brought my attention to something. “Shut the fuck up about #BirdOfTheYear for a second, would you? I’ll make my decision once I’ve tasted them all.”

Which tells me a couple of things. One, there is something called Bird of the Year, and two, there’s enough back-and-forth about it that it’s becoming a trending topic on social media. And here I’d insert the face-slapping emoji, if I knew how to do such a thing, which I don’t, because I’m an adult.

And here’s the bit of confluence that also seemed to have happened. He who asks me to contribute to this site pointed me in the direction of how this seemingly innocuous little avian hashtag has been hijacked by politics. NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge had his 50c worth by Tweeting, “Has to be the year for the Black Throated Finch – at threat from the Adani Mine. Vote for these beautiful little birds in the #birdoftheyear”

 

 

So, there’s that side of the argument. And if you bring Adani into the mix – any mix for that matter – you’re bringing about the conflict between Left and Right. Those in favour of the Adani mine will therefore have to vote for a different bird, a more jobs-centric, economic rationalist bird, because the conclusion will be drawn that the Black Throated Finch’s mere existence is a theoretical threat to the Adani mine, which is quite literally the hill many of them will be willing to die on.

And suddenly, something which was already quite stupid, has gone into the realm of painfully stupid, while simultaneously robbing space of proper discourse and further dividing a politically fractured culture. Over a fucking Bird Logie, or something.

I don’t know how we got here – that everything becomes politics and a matter of left v right. A high-profile member of the Church gets done for child rape, and all of a sudden the shouty ‘law and order’ types on the right are saying that justice – once blind – is now blinkered by leftist mob mentality, and even though due process was observed and a jury found a unanimous verdict, the whole thing’s corrupt. Usually, one might just be sad that someone you liked did something evil. It happens. It shouldn’t, but it does.

But now, because the Left says that child rape is bad, the Right will apparently double down in opposition to a conviction for it.

So, from one end of the spectrum, we have this Pell business, and at the other, it’s a bird poll. We can’t all like the same things, because we apparently disagree on other things (not for nothing, but In ABC poll I took once said that I had some startling percentage of policies in tandem with One Nation, and I might presume that they too enjoy ‘sleep’ and ‘cake’; even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day). It’s unnerving, yet symptomatic of something that’s bigger, broader, stupider, and almost entirely fuelled by the media.

Another case in point: I didn’t even know that you still could climb Uluru – I was quite happy in what was the (false) knowledge that they’d shut that thing down years ago due to safety concerns and the objection of the local Aboriginal folk. Yet, because everything these days is placed in the binary of modern politics, a bunch of people who would probably not have climbed the thing have all tripped over each other’s dicks to climb it, knowing fully well that the traditional landowners found such behaviour abhorrent to their sensibilities.

They knew that the action – which they didn’t have to do – was going to cause grief to a group of people, and did it anyway. Did it, in all likelihood, precisely because it was going to cause them grief.

 

Those in favour of the Adani mine will therefore have to vote for a different bird, a more jobs-centric, economic rationalist bird, because the conclusion will be drawn that the Black Throated Finch’s mere existence is a theoretical threat to the Adani mine, which is quite literally the hill many of them will be willing to die on.

 

So, back to this Bird of the Year thing. I was quite happy not knowing that it existed, much like the Uluru thing, and the fact that in the US they seem to have a Hall of Fame for toys, and at one point a red rubber ball was inducted into this Hall of Fame. I was much happier a person not knowing about that, but now I do know about it and I’m stupider for it.

Surely, we’ve crossed the Rubicon here – something that needn’t matter is hijacked by politics and ideology, so it becomes news, and now – for reasons unknown – becomes newsworthy and in as much, matters.

For a popularity contest surrounding birds, some seem to get worked up about it because they like their favourite things to win – it’s in part why we watch awards shows. Others merely pretend to get worked up about it because it’s fun to take the piss out of such spectacles.

Then, you throw politics into something which is palpably apolitical, and every News Ltd, IPA, Sky News dipshit will now have to have their say and ensure that whatever the Greens MP likes doesn’t win. Because this is what matters now, apparently.

Funnily enough, you know who doesn’t give a frog’s fat ass about ay of it? The birds.

 

 

 

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