Saturday, February 03, 2018

Saturday Morning Musings - The Beetoota Advocate

"Local Restaurant Now Successful Enough To Have To Worry About Rich People Allergies"  The Beetoota Advocate
When  I first came across The Betoota Advocate I was almost fooled. The story in question was just so plausible. Then I thought, hang on. This can't be right. It cannot be the oldest newspaper in Australia as claimed. Further, I know Queensland well, and if  Beetoota was an inland centre with that population then I would know it.

When I looked up Beetoota, I found that it was a ghost town with then zero population in Queensland's Channel Country. Digging into the Advocate itself, I found that it was an Australian satirical news website actually based in inner Sydney started in 2014 by former journalists Archer Hamilton and Charles Single and publisher Piers Grove. The site puts a comedic spin on current news topics and broader social observations.

I came across The Betoota Advocate very early an knew enough to check. In 2015, Brisbane radio station 4BC was not so lucky, taken in by an outlandish moral tale about three junkies, a home invasion, and a plucky 78-year-old retired boxer!
Report: Sunday Roast Easiest Way To Get Adult Children To Visit Home. A year-long study into the most effective way to make adult children revisit the nest has concluded this afternoon and the results are quite telling. 
I think that one of the reasons that The Beetoota Advocate has become Australia's most popular satirical site is that it pokes fun at many current social and cultural tropes in a straight faced way preserving a news format instantly familiar to readers of the Australian press and especially the regional media.

Many of the popular satirical shows play to particular slices, mainly progressive, of social and political views. The Gruen Transfer's Will Anderson is a case in point: he often achieves laughs by savaging a slice of views that he and his audience already consider wrong or silly. It is very one-dimensional.

Of course this happens in the Beetoota Advocate too, but the scope is broader and less savage. I think that most Australian parents would smile at the thought of a report that tells them that roast dinners are a way of bringing children home to dinner. We know that.

Not all the Beetoota stuff is really funny. This is partly a matter of output, but also reflects the difficulty in maintaining a light touch to avoid spinning over into too heavy handed parody.

On a final note, I think at first the good folk at The Beetoota Advocate though that someone was taking the mickey out of them, but the Beetoota pub is re-opening, restoring the town's population to one.      

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