Media Watch, watch

Words by Aiden McNamara
Art by James Meadowcroft

The column no one cares about, even when they’re in it.

It’s a Monday night. You’re a well-informed, politically active individual. Your supply of worthwhile Netflix content is dwindling. You find out the person whose opinions you regurgitate as your own is on TV. This means only one thing: it’s time for your bi-yearly 12 to 13-minute viewing of ABC’s Q&A.

Tragedy strikes. You’ve accidentally landed on the GO! channel. The Big Bang Theory is on. It’s that episode where they’re on the train. You’ve seen it already, yet you can’t look away.

In the ad break you question your life choices. You have no answers. All this thought of questioning and answers jogs your memory.

You’re finally on ABC. It’s 9:17pm. You think you’ve missed it completely. You check the schedule. “Why does Q&A start at 9:35pm? Surely ABC’s key demographic is in their second REM cycle,” you wonder. You’re now watching ads on the ABC. You didn’t think that was a thing. They’re all ads for other ABC shows. A little masturbatory, but you understand.

It’s 9:18pm. The next program is starting right on schedule. It’s an oddly specific start time. Suddenly you hear a groovy funk/jazz fusion. Lights flash alongside fast paced graphics. “Wow, what an exciting and well made intro,” you think, “Did the ABC buy the rights to some kind of high budget HBO sequel?”

“MEDIA WATCH” appears on screen. You realise it’s not Game of Thrones 2: Play Time’s Over. You’re disappointed, mostly in yourself; the montage of politicians and public figures should have been an immediate giveaway.

Suddenly the Channel 7 midday news is on. You don’t really understand how you can have such a loose grasp of time and reality. You’ve been black-out drunk before and lost hours. And if it’s not Christmas or your own birthday, you never really know the exact date, yet you wonder if this should be a wake up call. You continue to question your life choices. Your mind drifts and you wonder how things played out for Sheldon and Leonard on the train, despite having already seen the episode. You realise that the show’s writing is very clever: it lends itself to repeat viewings by virtue of being so forgettable.

Media Watch is back on. It’s Monday night again. It never wasn’t. The show had just opened with footage from Channel 7 from earlier in the week. That should have been apparent. You wonder if this show is only for well-informed intellectuals with a penchant for understanding abstract television program structures, or maybe you are not as intelligent as you once thought. You continue watching. You are now noticing all of the nuances of this television masterpiece. You spend more time than reasonable admiring the Media Watch logo. “It’s clever because an M is just an upside-down W,” you think. You are now disappointed in your own initials and their lack of symmetry, an insecurity you didn’t think was possible.

“Hi, I’m Paul Barry and welcome to Media Watch,”. You’re only 39 seconds in. You continue to be impressed by the nuances of the program. You’re listening to a well-spoken and highly-respected figure in the media industry, but you’re distracted by some of the tones in his voice, wondering if he’s a relative of Frank Walker of National Tiles fame.

Paul Barry proceeds to present a composed, well-researched example of a shortcoming in a section of the media. “HA! That’s one for Bazza! Take that Tracy Grimshaw!”. You are now barracking for Paul Barry. It’s not that kind of show. As you scrawl “P.B.” across your face in green and gold paint, Barry moves on to the next segment.

You’re beginning to think that the reason you are having so much difficulty following the show is because you haven’t kept up over the last few seasons. You don’t know the characters very well and all the running jokes are lost on you. It’s at this point that you decide to pause Media Watch. You have the benefit of not having to wait a week between episodes, so you can binge-watch all the episodes over just a few days – the same as your approach to university lectures. You start at Jonathan Holmes, the host before Barry. As you binge watch all of Holmes’ episodes, in what can only be described as a Jon-athon, you wonder if he’s actually the smuggest man you’ve ever seen, or maybe it’s just his face.

Q&A has finished. You haven’t slept in 3 days. You begin to wonder why you bothered doing this. You realise that Australia needs Media Watch to keep the media accountable, but someone needs to keep the Media Watch accountable. It’s a thankless job, but someone has to do it.

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