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I Have Some Problems With This…

with 4 comments

(Cross-posted at BPWOO)

Now, the front page story in the Herald Sun today was the story of how Melbourne City Council grants have been given to two artists whose art consists of building and then dismantling brick walls. OK. That’s a pretty crucial news story. Bravo, investigative journalism etc, well done on avoiding sensationalism and triviality.

I’m not here to quarrel with the front page story. I am here to quarrel with this editorial on the same subject:

No art to this waste of cash

This story starts like this:

“A MELBOURNE City Council grant to pay artists to build a brick wall, only to knock it down again, gives new meaning to ‘thick as a brick.'”

Now here’s the thing, “staff writer”…

No it doesn’t. I concede that you’re just following a trend here, the trend of finding a commonly used phrase with some oblique connection to a story, and then saying “gives new meaning to” in a sad and almost-touching attempt to be witty. I concede that 95 percent of these usages do not in any way demonstrate a new meaning being given to said phrase.

BUT that is no excuse! Can’t you think for three seconds before you write?

I mean, how the hell does that give new meaning to “thick as a brick”? If the artists were dressing up as bricks, perhaps, but they’re not, are they? They’re just building and dismantling walls. And you see, “thick as a brick” means the same thing as it always did, doesn’t it? If you said these artists were “thick as a brick”, it wouldn’t actually develop some devilishly clever double meaning. Dickhead.

And you probably think, OK, “staff writer” has pulled the wrong rein there, but everyone’s allowed one wrong rein-pulling in an article, as long as it is an isolated case.


This is the HERALD SUN, where sensationalism walks hand in hand with semi-literacy, and scaremongering rides tall in the saddle occasionally sipping from a canteen full of cool fresh not-as-funny-as-they-think.

Because it ONLY GETS WORSE. Later in the editorial:

“Another brick in the wall, as we are reminded by the Pink Floyd song, is to cost ratepayers $5500.”

Now I was stunned by this assertion, and immediately ran to my turntable to give “The Wall” a spin. And here’s an interesting fact:

At NO point during the song “Another Brick in the Wall” does Pink Floyd either say, or paraphrase, the sentence, “Another brick in the wall is to cost ratepayers $5500”.

Check it out, Herald Sun! The album is readily available! There is, in fact, no reference to ratepayers at all!

In other words, if you were to listen to any of the three parts of the song “Another Brick in the Wall”, you would not be reminded in any way of the cost to ratepayers of another brick in the wall. What is more, I doubt that this was ever Roger Waters’s intention! It seems, to say the least, far-fetched to suppose that as he sat down to compose his masterpiece, he thought, “Now we need a real epic protest song so that people will never forget how much it cost City of Melbourne ratepayers to hire two women to build and tear down small brick walls. It was $5500, and after this hits the charts, EVERYBODY WILL REMEMBER THAT!”

I do not think this happened.

And to pile outrage upon outrage, it’s not even true that another brick in the wall will cost ratepayers $5500. That is the cost of the entire installation – so one brick would be just a fraction of that. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT HERALD SUN!

And even if you don’t, please note that a newspaper editorial is, ideally, a considered commentary on current events. The purpose of editorialising becomes, at the least, blurred, when the editorial morphs into some kind of bizarre comedy routine/1970s prog-rock medley.

THINK about it.


Written by Your Friends

March 16, 2010 at 07:07:19

4 Responses

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  1. This made me laugh. Aloud.

    Nigel Featherstone

    March 16, 2010 at 08:08:20

  2. I liked that original article because poking fun at pointless arts grants is just so fun and life-affirming. Also, it drew a number of teary-eyed, huffy responses from the arts community, which is good too.

    Interesting how I know plenty of folks in the arts community who’d make jokes about crappy ‘conceptual arts’ projects most of the time, but as soon as the Hun publishes something like this, they get all defensive.

    Also, you talk about sensationalism and semi-literacy like it’s a bad thing…


    March 19, 2010 at 02:02:14

  3. Tim, poking fun is all very well. But there is a right and proper way to poke fun!


    March 20, 2010 at 03:03:03

  4. I laughed a lot at this. I even made that funny snort sound through my nose.

    yt sumner

    March 25, 2010 at 11:11:11

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