Posts Tagged ‘Clayton Weatherston’

Resisting the decline

datePosted on 17:19, March 3rd, 2010 by Lew

This is art, can you believe it?After some reflection and consideration of the pretty well-made arguments against my last post on Sensing Murder, I now have a bit more understanding of and sympathy for the position of those who are so infuriated and offended (thanks, Tony, Keir, Andrew and others). While I still think the difference between psychics and other sorts of entertainers is one of degree rather than kind, I accept that it’s a pretty big difference of degree, and that matters.

I wonder if there’s a correlation between those who object most strenuously to shows like Sensing Murder and those who generally bemoan the falling standards of entertainment and current affairs, and particularly the rise and proliferation of reality TV formats, and the consequent “realitisation”, if I may coin the term, of other genres. I’m thinking, here, of shows like Lost, which started out basically as a fictional version of Survivor; and 24, which is basically a video game in serialised form; the talking-head rent-a-quote instant-experts which predominate in news and current affairs programming; and the reality-esque coverage of media heroes and antiheroes like Clayton Weatherston and David Bain.

I reckon there would be, and I reckon that no small portion of the reason people hate on Sensing Murder so much is because it represents the most egregious example of this trend toward manufactured verité — in entertainment, in real life, and in how real life is presented to us. In this, it’s just another example of “resisting the decline” of society, which happens to an extent every generation.

I should hasten to add that I think it’s important that the decline be resisted — but by the same token I think it’s important that the reasons for resisting it be clearly stated and understood. But here’s another thing: while there is undeniably a great deal of dreck in the reality TV ouvre, and a significant amount of bland mediocrity, has the move genuinely brought nothing of value? The most venerated examples of the reality genre — Survivor for one; Idol and so on for another — have given zillions of people a great deal of pleasure, and now form a pretty central part of our* culture. I have a particularly soft spot for Survivor since it’s essentially just a big ball o’ political, social and psychological theory implemented in a handy ritualised narrative form.

In case you think I’m a trendy hipster libertine, I do personally disdain a huge amount of pop-culture — but not to the extent that I wish its absence on others who are into that sort of thing. That’s where I draw the line with Sensing Murder: let those who have been duped of money or faith complain to the small claims tribunal, or Fair Go, or the Advertising Standards Board, or the Commerce Commission. Let those who dislike the programme turn it off, and voice their disapproval to TVNZ and the show’s producers. Let those who object to public money being spent on it, and to the Police becoming involved in it make their objections known strongly, but let it all be done in the knowledge that some folk want it anyway and are willing to pay for it, even if it is all faked (and, deep down, they know it).

Last generation’s trash is this generation’s treasure; and vice versa. So it has ever been. This is part of what it is to live in a liberal society. Is it not?

L

* Permit me this generalisation, since I don’t want to write, nor (I am sure) do you want to read, yet another awkward definition of the “self” in this context.

Some of my best friends are men…

datePosted on 06:00, August 13th, 2009 by Anita

Most of the talk about the trial of Clayton Weatherston and the killings by George Sodini has focussed on the anti-women sentiment and sexism woven into the discourse and society. But isn’t there anti-men sentiment in equal measure? Both are rooted in the idea that men cannot control themselves – when it comes to issues of sex and love men have no self control. The story it tells is that for men rejection becomes a killing rage without the chance of self-restraint.

In fact it’s rooted not only in the idea that men can’t control their rage, but in the idea that rage is their autonomic response to anything that goes wrong.

The prevalence of those myths and the unthinking acceptance of them doesn’t just lead to the deaths and beatings and rapes of hundreds of women a year, it also leads to the discounting and devaluing of masculinity.

I know so many good men: men who love, men who care, men with self control, men who do not have barely suppressed rage burning in their souls 24×7. Men who are diminished by every retelling of those myths of the generic caveman response.

When we finally repeal the provocation partial defence from the Crimes Act it will be a step forward not only for the women and gay men whose killings are trivialised by the defence, but also for every strong capable man whose masculinity is devalued by the idea that the measure of a man is his capacity to lapse into an uncontrollable killing rage.

Weatherston guilty, what about provocation?

datePosted on 11:31, July 22nd, 2009 by Lew

Clayton Weatherston has been found guilty of murdering Sophie Elliot, to nobody’s great surprise, perhaps, except his own.

First thought: good.

Second thought: should this be taken as evidence that the provocation defence doesn’t need to be abolished?

L