Flat White

The Taliban take over The Age Green Guide

23 August 2021

4:00 PM

23 August 2021

4:00 PM

At a time when the world is going to hell and some perspective is desperately needed, thank God for the ABC’s Virginia Trioli for digging through the detritus of the fall of Kabul and all that clickbait misogyny of the Taliban to find where the real disaster for women is – and who would have known its in the letters section of what remains of The Age’s TV pages, the Green Guide. 

Unlike the rest of us, Virginia has taken the time to go through the letters — well at least one of her producers did (I hope they remember that when they get a Walkley) — to find a letter from a female reader praising how well-groomed and dressed that nice, new ABC weather presenter Georgie Tunny is.  

Given the threat of reprisals from rogue Friends of the ABC members taking a break from updating their scrapbooks with articles on Kerry O’Brien and the Four Corners 60th anniversary, I don’t want to name this woman. So to protect her identity will refer to her from here only as Darren (not her real name). 

What Darren has done by praising the appearance of an on-air journalist who has just spent hours in make-up because they don’t want anyone to notice their appearance when on television is unforgiveable and yet this Talibanisation of the Green Guide has been going on for a while. Virginia was right to tweet about it, if only because under the new rules about what ABC staff can tweet about, there isn’t much left.  

Darren of course did her best to satisfy Age and ABC types. Describing Tunny as a ‘breath of fresh air, with plenty of sunshine’ is an obvious dig at the Morrison Government and its disgraceful inaction on climate change. Darren is clearly using Georgie Tunny as a metaphor for the environment, the rise of Greta Thunberg and zero emissions by 2030. It’s pretty clear to me that Darren is actually a member of Extinction Rebellion. What more does Virginia want?  

Of course, theories abound on why The Age chose to publish this letter. Some suggest that Darren is maybe a woman of a certain age who likes to sit down with a nice cuppa and thinks it’s nice to tell other people they’re nice especially when she thinks they’ve made an effort and doesn’t know what a social media pitchfork mob looks like.  

Or maybe she’s sick of the lack of dedication to good appearances and personal hygiene of some journalists (#IblameRupert) and praising the appearance of someone but not mentioning their skills as a journalist does not necessarily mean that Darren doesn’t also value these skills as well. As Darren often says when helping out on the cake stall at her grandchildren’s school fete — ‘Jeez Beryl, why are ABC presenters so binary?’ 

Virginia isn’t asking for much. All she wants is a minor, but thoughtfully balanced social media pile-on and a Green Guide where nobody will ever be caught off-guard again and have to read a letter they do not agree with. Especially when it’s written by some Darren.   

As Virginia points out speaking perfect Oprah-ese, this is a Learning Moment for Darren and all the other Darrens thinking they can live normal lives of writing to the Green Guide without fear of reprisal from ABC broadcasters. She even says it: ‘For God’s sake, grow up’. 

All Virginia is calling for is perspective, and maybe a sense of fun, to get us through these troubled times. I mean only last month she posted images on her social media of her and her masked production team dressed in sparkly dresses and tops to lift people’s spirits just after a further lockdown was announced. I speak on behalf of all Darrens to confirm this went down really well and didn’t irritate anyone at all — none of us thought to say, For God’s sake Virginia, Grow up. 

Michael Scammell is a Darren but has never had a letter in the Green Guide. He writes at https://mdswords.wordpress.com and Tweets at @MichaelScammell. 

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