Guest post by Lindsay Perigo
The rumoured looming demise of Campbell Live has triggered an avalanche of obituaries for "true current affairs," of which John Campbell, his fans claim, is the last embodiment standing.
Rather than "lawyer up," as other rumours suggest Campbell to be doing in an effort to retain his slot, I'd urge him to negotiate a new slot where ratings pressure is not so intense, and where he can be himself unreservedly: sharp, ferocious, funny ... and somewhere to the left of Jim Anderton. "True current affairs" is ideologically non-partisan; in that sense, its death occurred long ago, in all media. Let Campbell be liberated from the necessity of pretending he's non-partisan, and be the John Pilger he's always hankered to be. Let him be a Sean Hannity of the Left ... and make no bones about it. If TV3 are worried about "balance," they can always point to Paul Henry.
Even as I dispense this unimpeachable advice, however, I have a sinking feeling the channel itself simply won't be interested. This is an enterprise whose executives are, rightly enough, primarily focused on turning a profit for its long-denied, long-suffering investors. As such, they must ensure that TV3 has as many viewers as possible in order to generate as much advertising revenue as possible. This is where a terminal problem arises in our current culture for any TV programme that even remotely smacks of substance.
For twenty-five years at least, state schools, captured by left-nihilists hell-bent on the destruction of civilised values and behaviour, of intelligence and idealism, have been diligently churning out zombies. Illiterate, innumerate, inarticulate zombies. The walking brain-dead. These infantilised deformities can barely read or write; they can't spell or punctuate; they think "grammar" refers to their parents' mothers; they imagine syntax is a levy on their crack; they have a vocabulary of 6 words ("cool," "awesome," "like" and "oh my god") with a few more incorporated into a sort-of complete sentence on a good day ("Like, oh my god, I'm like so totally over it!"); in lieu of speech they evince that lethal affliction sometimes charitably characterised as an "accent"; they cannot focus on one thing for more than a nano-second; and, most crucially, they cannot think conceptually (the distinctively human mode of thinking)—theirs is the perceptual world of babies and animals. Since they can't truly think, they don't truly feel—hence the chilling Narcissism noted by many commentators. Every part of their brain except that which deals with toys and gadgets has been lobotomised by the child-molesters of the mind who, decades ago, were let loose in our (anti-)education system.
Thus do we have a cosmic paradox that will astound future historians: in the words of comedian Louis C. K., "an amazing, amazing world wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots that don't care." Many of these zombies are now back in the classrooms ... as teachers. And it is now largely zombies whom television channels have to secure as viewers in order to attract advertisers.
It doesn't help that television executives and programmers, instead of engaging in zombification as though it were a regrettable necessity, do so with aggressive, unseemly relish; they are sleaze, in eager thrall to the stupefied.
In such an environment, John Campbell doesn't stand a chance—no matter how much he tries to accommodate it by hype and hyperventilation and saying "awesome" when he'd rather say "marvellous." Put him out of his misery in a slot where he's not obligated to do that!
I am not an advocate of the view that government should own television channels. Nonetheless, while government-spawned zombies rule, and government does own a television network, I would say the least government can and should do is make that network a place where zombification is halted and reversed. Restore "true current affairs." Restore genuine ideological neutrality. Restore well-spokenness as a crucial part of a broadcaster's craft. Let this channel be a haven to which non-zombies can repair. And apply the same philosophy to Radio New Zealand where, instead, a hybrid of zombification and hard-left political correctness is currently being pursued.
Such a course, in conjunction with the de-zombification of our schools, would go a long way toward creating a culture in which a) thinking is not only permitted but encouraged, and b) ideas are promoted and debated with the same zeal Mark Weldon and Julie Christie bring to their unutterably odious and vacuous "reality" shows.
That would be a culture fit for brain-alive human beings. I'm sure John Campbell would thrive in it.
Lindsay Perigo is a former TVNZ newsreader and current affairs interviewer. He left TVNZ in 1993, proclaiming its news and current affairs "braindead."
He is the author of “Shut the Duck Up—Kiwis Don't Quack,” Total Passion for the Total Height, and The One Tenor.
Visit him at lindsayperigo.com, and follow him at SOLO, where this post first appeared.