Some more rigourous self-examination leads me to again consider the question of: why did I want to stage Mike's work?
Some revelation came in the family car when a rendition of "Pumped Up Kicks" slopped out from the radio and arrested me from my exit across the road to Benalla's fantastic second hand bookstore, which I visit every time I come home.
I love this song because it is the ultimate in ironies, a song from the perspective of a schoolyard killer that has somehow become a hipster anthem, now active in selling XXXX's new Summer Ale.
As I swim through the emo-painy ecstatic half-melody, entering the blissful state of moral and ethical collapse it demands, I think about how shit get appropriated so much nowadays. How those few bastions of resistence (against what? why?) are swallowed up by commercial interest, how those who champion something are so seldom rewarded unless their championing serves some "safe" cause, how those things which sit awkwardly or are only championed by a handful of people as far as I can see, and the world's survival seems dependant on those few individuals continuing their struggle, continuing to sacrifice the mobility, possibility, pleasures for the sake of a humanity they surely have become too cynical to believe in any longer. All of this is blindingly obvious, I knew its politic when I was 8 years old. We all know it.
But doesn't it seem unfair to you? That a handful of people, these "renegade" figures, should shoulder the burden for the rest of us, that they should be bastions of truth and justice while the rest of us simply comply with whatever it is we are told, or jump on a skeptical bandwagon when it presents itself?
It's a staged binary - but doesn't it sound familiar? A hero narrative - resonant, but so obviously flawed. It describes perfectly our existence. It is fed by the media, it is fed by individuals following its line, it is fed by this fame-drug we seem to all be on nowadays. As if surrogates can fulfill all of our fraught desires, and we can appreciate them from an armchair.
And it begs the question, if its resonance is any indication of its truth: Shouldn't the rest of us take some fucking responsibility as well?
Out here, in Benalla, the media literally create the global context. There are no people from outside coming through, and everything happens far away. Information comes via the local Video Ezy or one of the daily papers, or if its about the weather - the locals.
The people here are completely reliant on media for their political information, which makes them ripe targets for manipulation. Sure enough, you can't walk far without being hit in the face with a big multi-national chain, giant monstosities creating an absurd connection to foreign without any actual information. Ad after ad pummels the screens with stock occer tradesman figurines and problematic gender stereotypes. But you can't NOT watch, what the fuck else is there to do? Apart from the wonderful placebo that is footy.
And if the media get it wrong... if The Age or the Herald Sun engage in some selective reporting (as if they don't constantly) or heaven forbid, an Ad tries to commercially exploit a cultural or gender based stereotype, (only to be mimiced by kids), or Carrie Bickmore naturally laughs off a scripted suggestion that if she attached her keys to her bra she would jingle jangle as she walked around, well, the aftershocks are catastrophic, and its results are felt at dinner tables everywhere.
The reality for people in rural Australia is that the most information they get is from their environment, and their environment never really changes (except slowly, almost unnoticably). They feel left out of conversations which happen in the city because they have no handle on where to begin. And when you're out here, it's not hard to see why. Given the amount of manipulation which goes on, the amount of fabrication, the bullshit, it leaves one with almost nothing true, except the landscape. How easy it would be to retreat to that sanctuary, that true bush.
But no. We live in a global world, as Barnaby Joyce said on Q+A last night. This global world affects people everywhere, as Mike points out in his monologue. But their reliance on the media is a killer, because the media have long since abandoned them.