Flat White

The Canberra convulsions and the Honey Badger

23 August 2018

5:37 PM

23 August 2018

5:37 PM

I don’t follow rugby so I don’t know the Honey Badger. But I do follow politics and know that a former Bill Shorten staffer is a contestant on the new series of The Bachelor and she is in pursuit of The Badger.

Such political infiltration of a top rating television program is pure genius for Labor and yet another example of the politicization of our trash culture. Why can’t they just leave us all alone?

So what can we learn about the state of politics and what the Opposition team is up to by watching this show all the while lying like a politician and denying we’ve ever seen it?

Alisha – a former Shorten event ‘advancer’ – is already taking on the role of the everywoman narrator. It isn’t surprising given the right-wing trade union past of her ex-boss. She is making perky Machiavellian observations to camera about the state of play whether it’s Cassie and her very real and personal gym-membership based connection to the Badger or the Cat-Sophie situation and what this means for the future stability of the Government.

Alisha looks like Frozen’s Elsa in her soft evening frock and equally sharp elbows and she is the one to watch as she has a brain sharpened by the very best political minds in Canberra which isn’t saying much.

One female columnist has already betrayed the collective by claiming Alisha is the natural villain for the show but I don’t see it.

In fact, Alisha is extremely likeable and polite in that way 12-year-old political advancers often are when they ask you the first and only time to hurry up and move the fucking furniture.

Like Canberra there is always the risk of political scandal but as long as she doesn’t end up with the mythical ‘Batch Pad key’ (Barnaby-style) or is mean to the other bachelorettes (Emma H-style) or isn’t tricked by the magic of television into some embarrassing race-baiting incident (Pauline, Fraser, Bob, just-about-anyone style) or just decides that she wants to be prime minister then we should all do just fine.

The Bachelor – this Honey Badger – is an interesting creature. He is rugby star and underwear celebrity Nick Cummins and with his curled baby locks represents a Shirley Temple man-child amongst these voracious bachelorettes as he struggles with what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century.

There is something retro, old Labor and Bob Hawke about him – the 1980s hair, the weak pornographer moustache, the ballooning muscled Schwarzenegger physique back to a time when muscles on men were legal.

Unlike previous bachelors, Honey Badger talks Strine, not male model. English is not his first language and he might not be able to answer all the questions on the citizenship test yet we welcome him onto our television screens for the diversity he brings.

But still, certain other prejudices persist. Why for example is Osher Günsberg host rather than Laurie Oakes? And then you realize it’s all an attractiveness thing.

The Badger isn’t stupid, has a real job as a sporting personality and says things like ridgie-didge and beaut. He tells his dates he likes a ‘yarn’ when he wants to talk love and has that working class twang that you get from doing those tinder courses on how to get a lot of sex by sounding working class.

How this works with the more clearly aspirational tastes of these brutally telegenic young women will play out in the weeks ahead in an intriguing political exercise to see who out of Marx (it’s about class), Freud (its about sex) or Kim Kardashian (its about me) was right and which one gets the rose. My money is on Kim.

As we see in the yoga session date the Badger is a sensitive soul with love on his mind. What he is doing with these grasping bachelorettes is anyone’s guess as with his alert face, soft features and button-nosed snout he is more curly haired labradoodle than angry badger. A labradoodle circled by a pack of love rottweillers just like Malcolm Turnbull.

And just like Canberra politics at the moment it’s almost too cruel to watch and yet we cannot look away.

Michael Scammell is a freelance writer.

Illustration: Network Ten.

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