The Pearl Bullivant Person of the YearPearl is closing 2018 with the inaugural ‘Pearl Bullivant Person of the Year Award’ in recognition of an Australian who has enhanced our culture. After some stiff competition in the form of Pearl’s favourite celebrity, Salim Mehajer (a man who deserves our recognition for putting Auburn on the map), Pearl’s award will be bestowed upon the politician and journalist formerly known as the ‘Human Headline’, Derryn Hinch.
Beast readers will probably be wondering why Derryn not Kerryn, given that our new MP for Wentworth is appearing on The Beast’s front cover this month. Or even an NRL player, a WAG, or a bachelorette? Derryn may be loitering in the pool of unrepresentative swill in the senate, doing little besides occasionally upsetting Pauline, but Pearl holds him solely responsible for two annoying cultural phenomena pervading our society – beards and shame – and for this he deserves my award.
Although the beard trend preceded Derryn’s senatorial debut, Australia co-incidentally hit peak facial fur at the time of the Talking Beard’s swearing in. Bearded men have always taken Pearl’s fancy (think Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski) but their appeal turned to turn-off as soon as they became synonymous with cashed-up hipster tradies driving VW Amaroks, with their tattooed arm sleeves perched on the window sill holding a decaf soy latte and a sourdough baguette.
And then there’s ‘shaming’, a term that for the older generation is intrinsically linked to Hinch during his days as a TV current affairs host in the ‘80s. Back then, Hinch publicly shamed criminals, but in the 21st century shaming has become a virus. Everybody is being shamed and we’ve got Derryn’s ascendance to the cross bench to blame for it.
The outcry ‘I am being shamed’ has become an excuse for bad behaviour, the go-to reaction of those whose dubious lifestyle choices are being questioned and examined. The ‘shamed’ plays heavily on victimhood in reaction to valid opinions (I’m not talking trolls or zealots here) concerning their actions.
A travel journalist who dares question the intrusive selfie obsession in the Louvre is accused of shaming tourists and being a naysayer. Mummy bloggers accuse a pre-school in the US of shaming hard-working families when it puts up a sign that implores parents picking up their kiddies to get off the phone. Feminists who criticise Kim Kardashian mania are shaming women. A journalist who critiques the dangerous trend of vampire breast enhancements is left comments such as, “It’s a free world, stop shaming women who make this choice.” Immunisation dissenters accuse pro-vaccinators of shaming their children. The tosser who parks his Maserati in a disabled spot accuses me of shaming him in Bondi Westfield. The mega rich are being shamed for their wealth. The LNP is shamed by the ABC’s Four Corners.
How sad that Australians have become so defensive. Our nation will come to a standstill and be governed by the self-righteous and powerful if we lose the art of self-reflection, investigation, critique and vigilance. All I can say is SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
And, of course, Merry Christmas!