It was billed as a “piece of Australian television history” – a 1970 Silver Logie which recently sold at auction for around $5700. Talk about ye olde cultural cringe – it wasn’t even awarded to a homegrown show. Instead the very plain looking silver plated gong was given to the American TV show The Mod Squad. Why anybody would fork out that amount for such an obscure piece of memorabilia is hard to fathom although perhaps it suggests the annual Australian TV awards, still hold some cachet.
Tainted by dodgy voting practices and infamous drunken after parties, the Logies have long suffered the stigma of a poor man’s Emmys or BAFTAS with the actual silver and gold plated gongs amongst the most miserable looking, poverty row trophies ever to be awarded for anything of supposed significance. If the Oscar statues are regarded as something to hug and hold close to the heart the actual Logie gong is about as tactile as a crow bar.
Exiled from Melbourne to the ‘glitz and glamour’ of the Gold Coast, last Sunday’s 60th Annual TV Week Logie Awards, for all their red carpet hoo haa, could not hide the fact that Australian free to air TV is probably at an all time low when it comes to providing quality entertainment and informative news coverage. Given the funding cuts to SBS and the ABC and calls from within the Liberal Party to privatise the national broadcaster there is not a great deal to celebrate when it comes to local TV.
Faced with increasing competition from streaming media providers like Stan and Netflix, the commercial channels have lowered the bar even lower as they appeal almost desperately to the lowest common denominator. A rash of dating shows like Love Island, have joined Australian Ninja Warrior and other mindless reality show offerings to supplement the big rating winners like The Voice and House Rules.
Whilst there’s now a proliferation of digital channels on free to air, it’s often hard to find anything worthwhile to watch, especially outside of the peak rating periods. Endless reruns of shows like Hogans Heroes, Seinfeld and Mash fill much of the programming hole as do similar repeats of American reality shows like American Hoggers and Cajun Pawn Stars.
It’s all a new paradigm of fast food TV, miles removed from what we might call the golden days of local TV in the 60s, 70s and 80s when tonight shows, Matlock Police, Homicide, Countdown and old school quiz shows dominated both the ratings and the Logie awards. They may not have been as slick and as technically polished as today’s reality fare but there was a certain honesty and integrity about them.
If we are to persist with this annual orgy of self-congratulation maybe it’s time to ditch the current Logie statue and replace it with something that reflects the current true state of Australian TV – like the ‘Gold Remote’. The giant oversized remote control, mounted on a replica pizza box, would be a true representation of viewer frustration – constantly surfing from one channel to the next in a futile search to find anything worth watching.
As for the hundreds of pathetic little Logies still in circulation, gathering dust on mantle pieces, or even being offered for auction – it’s time to introduce a buy back scheme, similar to what John Howard did with the guns. Melt them down and use the scrap to make a statue of somebody iconic when it comes to Australian TV like Gerry Gee or Bert Newtown. At least nobody will ever suffer the kind of terrible injury that can occur if you accidentally sit on one!