Tag Archives: age of seeming

Is The King Tide Of “Seeming” Receding?

23 Sep

I do not agree with many of the views espoused by Herald Sun columnist, blogger, and Channel 10 TV host Andrew Bolt.

I do, however, most wholeheartedly agree with his views on what he has — brilliantly — described as “The Age of Seeming”:


Whenever the general topic of pretentious preening and posturing by those who care more about “seeming” than “doing” arises, I often recall Bolt’s column of December 2nd, 2009.

This, dear reader, is in my opinion one of the best op-eds I’ve ever read.


In particular, though,  it is one of the best op-eds I’ve ever read that so brilliantly skewers the zeitgeist of our times.

Consider whether anything has changed since Bolt penned these words, nearly four years ago:

The Age of Seeming

THE AIDS ribbons were the first red flag of this Age of Seeming – this great explosion of public sanctimony.

For a long while, no celebrity dared turn up at a big do without wearing that loop of red ribbon to show they cared.

Was a single AIDS patient actually saved by this flaunting of compassion?

Don’t be silly. These ribbons were for advertising the wearer’s good heart, not the sufferer’s weeping sores.

It was weird the way they suddenly vanished. Do edicts on the cause-du-jour get published in Vanity Fair, so the fashionable don’t risk turning up to an event caring about the wrong thing?

How mortifying if Cate Blanchett was the only one in a room of red AIDS ribbons to be wearing the brown ribbon of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

But if red ribbons vanished, this new virus of “consciousness raising” stayed, mutating into ever more offensively reproachful forms.

Only last week, I watched Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the now deposed opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, boast they’d taken the following oath, which they urged all other men to swear, too:

I swear: never to commit violence against women, never to excuse violence against women, and never to remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.

Pardon? Were Rudd and Turnbull saying it was this oath that now stopped them from belting their wives?

Of course not.

Was their oath likely to be sworn by the kind of men that would?

As if.

Were they telling me to swear it, too, because they think I’d otherwise punch a woman?

How dare they.

So what was all that really about?

Rudd’s smug face told the story. Here was another preening ritual of seeming good without achieving it, while making even the innocent feel accused.

Creepy, yes, but how many such Seeming Ceremonies we’ve had. There was last year’s apology to the “stolen generations” that no one can actually find, and now a sorry to the “Forgotten Australians” for having been removed from lousy parents for their own safety.

What on earth did such sorries achieve? That’s not saying sorry. That’s just blaming someone else (and the wrong people, too), while gloating over your far finer moral feeling.

It’s a seeming contrition, with none of the searing regret of a real one.

But on these Seeming Ceremonies went. They’d dance at Make Poverty History concerts that didn’t raise any money; they’d acknowledge traditional owners whose descendants weren’t present; they’d stage naked protests against fur that attracted only the sticky-handed; and they’d catch jets to signings of accords that only pretended to cut the gases they’d just belched.

Once you had to show your goodness by doing something practical, like slogging through malarial swamps to build a health clinic in a jungle.

Now you do it by jogging with mates to “raise awareness” – which means asking someone else to do the real work.

Maybe the next ribbon should be yellow, so the Seemers can raise awareness of the Doers who have got the rough end of this moral pineapple.

It pleased me greatly this afternoon to see from the above video, that Bolt is continuing to try and bring this topic of “seeming” into the public consciousness.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we may someday as a result begin to witness the king tide of “seeming” receding.


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