I’ve come back from a few days R&R at a marvellous farm, to hear that the ACT government is tossing $19,000 to an Aspen Island Theatre Company to do the “creative development” of a fun play called Kill The Deniers.
Don Aitkin wonders if it is a comedy, so I went with an open mind to investigate. After reading his other works, I conclude the writer, David Finnigan, seems to be doing a brave new kind of living satire -- one where he lives the genre full time as he prepares, never breaking out of character in tweets, blogs, or plays. Sheer brilliance! He is self-satirizing the paranoid useful idiot who swallows improbable scientific visions about controlling the weather, and uses hyperbolic crass motherf…… language in a form of scientific self-mockery. Taking things to absurd extremes, he calls himself peaceful while he admires terrorists, invents conspiracy theories, and dreams of bloody revolution.
Truly, this could be a remarkable production that we will laugh at for years to come. In a stroke of innovation, the production is not the play that is in draft — instead it’s the media, the blogs, and his own parody responses. The show is on!
See how this is unfolding. The grant itself is stimulating political discussion:
The ACT Opposition and right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt lined up to condemn the grant, part of the latest round of ArtsACT funding, calling it an “outrage” and demanding the government reconsider its funding. -- Canberra Times
Talking about killing people is OK, says the company with a straight face, because, they say, they don’t mean it in a violent way:
But ArtsACT director David Whitney said the authors had explicitly stated in their application they did not advocate or believe in violence of any kind, including for political reasons.
This is how they describe their peaceful play– so inane, it has to be satire of the Original Totalitarian Wet Dream — which has naked political aims, and mocks the idea of persuading people in a democracy with good communication skills:
According to the description on the play’s website, it is about a group of heavily armed eco-activists who break into a major Australian institution and hold the occupants hostage.
It says in the play their demands are an immediate cessation of all carbon emissions and the immediate transformation of the Australian economy away from any reliance on fossil fuels.
Aspen Island has responded to the critics, saying this is satire (well, of course, I mean, who could take this for real?):
An idea, or scenario, can be treated in many ways. It is premature to judge the way our production – which we hope to follow our creative development – will do this. Our application for funding describes that we will explore the idea through a satirical exploration of the tropes of the hostage-crisis action film genre.
Good-o, says Jo, who is a big fan of satire. The play might be a good way to expose the power hungry bullies and namecalling thugs to the mockery they deserve for pretending to be scientific, and their fake concern for the environment and the poor. Now normally a satirist would use irony to espouse one view in their writing, while they state the opposite in their personal views. But David Finnigan writer, theatre-maker and arts producer, must be permanently on the job. I can find no chink in his writing. Even the straight faced, seemingly non-satirical work is “in character” as the gullible believer, e.g. Finningan “… humankind has become one of the most significant drivers of the planetary systems. “
Good satirists understand their targets. Here is Finnigan-the-writer, pretending to be an artist but secretly playing the role of a paranoid fearmonger, thinking skeptics may be trying to kill him.
We are not advocating for the murder of carbon lobbyists! Frankly at this late stage in the game it looks like you guys are trying to kill us, where us = anyone not wealthy enough to survive in a world of 9+ billion where the capacity of the planet to support the human population has been devastated by anthropogenic climate change and efforts to adapt to face the challenge have been hamstrung by well-heeled political lobbyists. But we’re not suggesting you guys should be killed, not even a little bit, not even at all. Bless! — KillClimateDeniers – Tmblr
It gets better. This below is from Finnigan’s About page, where the man of peace openly admires people who fight to the death for abstract concepts:
“It’s going to be a rough century. How are we going to get through it? We’re going to need a couple of things:
1. Love. Passion. Seriously, lots and lots of love and passion.
2. Guts. The guts to fight and die for a thing that seems far off and away.”
It’s a clever way to mock the so called “climate science” fans who pretend to care about calculations of climate sensitivity, but are running on hot passion rather than numbers. Bravo David F.!
Naturally, being a satirist, he exposes the fakery of his claims of peace, again, right out there on his own “About” page:
“In short, what would it take to actually stop climate change, dead in its tracks?
The answer is: guns. And lots of them.
Armed insurrection. Revolution. Or at the very least, a massive hostage scenario.”
Presumably David-Finnigan-the-self-satirist will toy with Fairfax journalists and green politicians soon and say he was only talking of water-pistols, or metaphors
of cleansing, I mean cleaning. Then we can all laugh at them. Of course, he doesn’t mean real hostages either. Which he explains by admiring other satirical actors called “Chechens” who did this amazing play in a theater in Russia:
In 2002, about 50 armed Chechens broke into the Dubrovka Theatre in Russia and took the 850 occupants hostage, demanding an end to the Russian occupation of Chechnya. Their efforts were unsuccessful, ending when the Russian government gassed the building with a toxic substance, killing 200 of their own citizens as well as the terrorists. Nevertheless, their attempt provides a model for what a real challenge to the status quo might look like. They went in with no expectation that they themselves would survive, but they put their own lives (and the lives of nearly a thousand innocent bystanders) on the line to try and put a stop to a war that has been raging for decades.
His use of satire within satire is gifted. Finnigan is really mocking the entire arts world, and government grants system. His self-portrayal of a blind crass activist, talking “science” while living in the delusion of being a sophisticated intelligent player is fooling politician and journalist alike. And he got $19,000 out of them! Way to go David F. He’s been in character for years already; past works include “Oceans boiled into sky.
His sophisticated “artiste” pronouncements include these words in Top 200 polluters:
“… BHP is the 9th largest company in the world by some reckoning and it’s lobbying the Australian right-wing govt to cancel the carbon tax, fuck those guys”
How could anyone mistake Finnigan for a serious writer making serious plays?
Finnigan’s twitter feed.