What should get the Paper Giants treatment next?
The ABC mini-mini-series Paper Giants has been a great hit. Funky footage blended with some brilliant performances, fabulous frocks, and an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the creation of women’s mag, Cleo. On a smaller scale, it did for the magazine industry what Mad Men did for the advertising industry.
Here at The Punch, it made us wonder: What’s next? What else could benefit from this historical dramatisation?
The ABC is reportedly looking at other Cleo-related or Packer family-related options - but we reckon there’s much broader scope in the genre. Anyway, see below for our thoughts on Paper Giants, and share your own thoughts below.
Lucy admits she’d be strangely drawn to watching the birth of Big Brother:
Television is a strange beast. I was glued to Paper Giants for its delicious ratio of everything I love to watch on the small screen: 50 per cent social history, 50 per cent fashion.
But if there’s something I love watching more than stuff I love on TV, it’s watching stuff I loathe.
I’d give hours of my life to watching the making of reality television - specifically the Australian version of Big Brother.
Yes, it’s been a decade since Gretel Killeen and co. subjected us to the navel-gazing, pasta-inhaling, turkey-slapping grottiness that was the daily life of the first Big Brother house in Dream World, Queensland, but I still haven’t recovered.
Can you imagine the sales meeting where some bright young producer pitches the Big Brother concept?
Producer: So, here’s the deal, we stick twenty morons in a house.
Executive: Twenty morons in a house …and?
Producer: No, that’s it! Stick 20 morons in a house and people watch them.
Executive: Yeah, morons will watch them.
Producers: Yeah, but heaps of people who watch commercial television are morons!
Executive: Sold!!!! Make ten years worth of shows.
Bringing that kind of creative genius to life would be even harder to watch than the show itself. But if there’s nothing else on ...
Ant says bugger women’s magazines, he’d much rather learn about the birth of the greenie movement:
I didn’t and won’t watch Paper Giants, because even though good drama is good drama, the thought of sitting down to watch a program about women’s magazines is as repulsive to me as the thought of actually reading a women’s magazine.
Everything that is crappy about the media can be found in the pages of a women’s magazine, with the exception of humorous photo captions, which some women’s mags like NW do pretty well. Even then, men’s magazines do captions much better.
In fact, men’s magazines do a lot of things better than chick mags. Problem is, men don’t buy them. Not en masse like women buy women’s mags, anyway. Even really intelligent women seem to have an automatic reflex to pick up a trashy women’s mag at news-stands, even though – in fact precisely because – it will be full of the same drivel the last issue was full of.
Before working at The Punch, I worked on the men’s sports and lifestyle monthly Alpha, where we busted our gut to provide content which could be irreverent or serious, but which was always at least semi-intelligent. Most importantly of all, it was original. We never regurgitated.
That’s what really gets my hackles up about women’s mags. The endless regurgitation. Especially in mags like Cleo and especially now, with so many crucial feminist battles won.
The irony is that the women’s mags are now setting the course of feminism at full-speed reverse, bullying their readers into all sorts of fashion and lifestyle corners. Not exactly female empowerment.
Boy, that was a bit of a rant, wasn’t it? The bottom line is, Paper Giants was not for me. So what would I like to see a mini-series about the birth of? Easy.
I’d like to see a doco about the birth of the environmental movement in Australia. I’d like to see a good reconstruction of the campaign to save the Franklin River, the SE forests of NSW and more, to remind us all of a time when saving the Australian natural environment was the primary concern of Australia’s environmental party, quaint as that seems now.
Tory says one day they’ll dramatise the birth of The Punch:
What would you like to see, Punchers? What movements or organisations – political parties or media companies – would benefit from the Paper Giants treatment?
How about the birth of The Punch? Behind a door marked ‘Special Projects’ we see Penbo (who could play Penbo? Now there’s a riddle…) hatching this crazy plan for a website devoted to … conversation.
Over at Fairfax HQ grizzled subeditors hear rumours of this venture and scowl “It’d never work! Not enough gravitas!”… and three months later we’d have the sequel as National Affairs is launched…
Hmmm – maybe in another 20 years.
I reckon the next ‘Paper Giants’ should be the birth of Dame Edna Everage, who had a bit-more-than-a-cameo in Paper Giants. The trials and tribulations of beyond drag queenery, what Barry Humphries’ inspiration was, why he needed the blinged-up housewife character to give life to his satirical thoughts.
Over to you - what phenomenon would you like to get a backstage look at?
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