Whatever else you might say about Pauline Hanson, she’s a fighter — and she’s got a better ear for what the Australian people think than the elites who’ve despised and demonised her for over 20 years. When Hanson wore a burqa into the Senate chamber, the political and media elites were beside themselves with fury — and ordinary Australians cheered. “Onya, Pauline!” as they say.
Now, Hanson is firing the biggest guns so far in the Australian theatre of the Great Meme War II — with a series of educational cartoons hilariously poking fun at nearly everyone in Australian politics.
The first three episodes are on social media already and have racked up around 750,000 views in just under two weeks across all platforms.
On Pauline Hanson’s Please Explain channel on YouTube they sit alongside speeches against vaccine mandates, but the cartoons shy away from overt political statements, aiming instead to poke fun at pretty much everyone except Hanson herself.
The point, says Nicholson, was to appeal to a younger demographic “that’s not politically engaged. We’re hopeful it makes politics seem a little more accessible to youth, by showing its silly side.”
This is a grassroots campaign, in every way. One Nation is the underdog who refuses to give up in Australian politics, while Stepmates, the studio commissioned to make the series, is run from the ground floor of a sharehouse in the inner Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, with a staff of six. The studio owners vigorously maintain that their outlook is strictly centrist and apolitical.
“We’re centrists, we take from the left, we take from the right, we make fun of ourselves, we make fun of everyone.”Stepmates says its
mission is “To Make Australia Funny Again”, but claims they had the slogan long before Donald Trump adopted MAGA for his campaigning. Their aesthetic and humour is clearly indebted to South Park […]
The approach from One Nation was spurred, Nicholson says, by a
short called Dr Spectrum, in which a doctor with an Indian accent (voiced by Nicholson) spruiks the benefits of having your child diagnosed with a behavioural disorder. “Your child will go from embarrassing and naughty to placid and special. And also you will now be eligible for free money from the government … congratulations. Stop making your bad parenting the problem and get the diagnosis you deserve.”
That’s the sensibility [One Nation staffer James Ashby] wanted them to bring into the political space. Their response: “If you guys are willing to go bold, do something a little different, we’re in.”
As is the case with anything to do with Hanson and One Nation, the elites are clutching their pearls and shrieking about “Trump”, “dog whistling” and “the Right”.
“Pauline Hanson is basically your superhero in this depiction, here to clean up all the mess,” says Dr Andrew Hughes, lecturer in marketing at the Australian National University. “It’s very much picking up on Trumpism, but then again Don Chipp said the same thing when he founded the Democrats in the 1980s – ‘I’m here to keep the bastards honest’.”
Dr Stephen Mills, senior lecturer in social and political sciences at the University of Sydney, says the spots are effective vehicles for One Nation’s key messaging.
“They present Australian politics as corrupt, a bit of a freakshow, and the major parties as collusive,” he says […]
Dr Mills, meanwhile, wonders if the portrayal of politicians as nothing more than a self-interested rabble “might further undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of mainstream legislative politics”.
Of course, that kind of concern plays right into the sort of narrative the Right has made its own in recent years: “It’s just a bit of fun. You snowflakes take everything too seriously. Lighten up.” Meanwhile, the dog-whistling continues.Sydney Morning Herald
Well, gosh, imagine having the temerity to undermine the legitimacy of mainstream politics. Keep that up, and voters might desert the major parties and vote for people who’ll actually stand up for their interests.
And then were will the elite be?
In the meantime — Onya, Pauline.
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