Last night I went to a show at the Adelaide Festival Garden of Unearthly Delights, and afterwards me and three friends had a great time dancing at the Silent Disco.
As we jumped and swayed around on the grass, I couldn’t help thinking that the Silent Disco is a great metaphor for the current turmoil (not a strong enough word) that the Australian Labor Party is experiencing. Maybe it’s just because I’m having trouble thinking of much else, but I’ll explain the symbolism as I saw it.
The Silent Disco consists of a DJ, in an open air space, who is playing three different tracks. Visitors to the disco are given wireless headsets, and only those wearing the headsets can hear the music. To those observing the disco, everyone is dancing around in silence, and are getting very excited about music that only they can hear. To make the scene even more entertaining, since there are three tracks playing, and dancers can choose which track they hear by changing channels on their headphones, the dancers are all dancing to different beats. One group might have chosen track one, and be bouncing to hip hop rhythms, whereas the people next to them are grooving to Beyonce, or shuffling to Oasis. Not only is it a really fun disco, but it also becomes an interesting spectacle for the people outside the disco, as it might seem from a distance that the headphone wearing dancers have gone a little crazy. Couldn’t the scene I am describing be symbolic of the current Kevin Rudd debacle?
Imagine that the dancers are the Labor members of parliament. They have headphones on, so certainly aren’t listening to their constituents. They are solely focused on whichever track they have chosen to listen to, which is often selected by one of their group of friends holding up one, two or three fingers enthusiastically to show that they’ve found a track that all of the group should turn to.
Rudd has been recruiting mates to listen to his track, which I imagine is the Macarena, or perhaps the Chicken Dance, and for some unknown reason, a few misguided fools are switching on. They’re obviously oblivious to how ridiculous they look dancing these well known moves, but perhaps they think because the wider public seem to like these songs, or did at some stage, that they’re on a winner. Simplistic fools.
The Gillard team, being the larger and more committed part of the dance floor, who are trying to keep their dancers on a stable path of progressive reforms, is lip syncing to Jimmy Barnes’ Working Class Man. Or perhaps The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction, but instead of singing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’, they’re changing satisfaction to recognition.
This group is doing their best to ignore the small row of ridiculous Macarena and Chicken dancers, and is also having to contend with pockets of the dance floor who, on Abbott’s directive, have tuned into I’m an asshole by Dennis Leary, changing the word ‘American’ to ‘Australian’. The Abbott crew aren’t content to just enjoy their music and come together to dance as one crowd. Instead, they scream in the faces of the Rudd and Gillard dancers, step on their toes and generally harass them to the point where an all out brawl is just moments away.
The people watching the disco are the general public who are trying to work out what songs everyone is listening to, and what the hell is going on. The whole scene soon resembles a mob of lunatics, blindly knocking into each other as they try to escape the tangled mess of mosh pit forming at the middle of the disco.
So who is the DJ in this metaphor? He’s the media of course. He plays the songs, and then goads the dancers into the tracks of his choosing. He’s conducting this ugly silent orchestra. Sometimes he takes requests, but he won’t tell the dancers who requested what. I think it’s time the dancers cut off his power, left the dance floor and went back to work. Sadly, this doesn’t look like happening any time soon.