Hard News by Russell Brown

Da Bomb

So anyway, I was on my way out the door to record this week's Mediawatch script and my mobile rang. It was my producer, calling from Wellington. Don't bother to go in, she said: they've had a bomb threat and the building's evacuated.

Well, thank you very much Paul Holmes. Radio New Zealand Auckland, as an accident of history, shares a building with The Radio Network, which owns and operates Newstalk ZB. And the hobbit's "cheeky darkie" rant appears to have prompted someone to make the all-too-easy threat of an attack.

We got the recording done eventually, after the police bomb dogs had been through. The hoax also disrupted a major send-off for RNZ's great servant Henare Te Ua, sending his whanau and a cluster of RNZ bigwigs out into the drizzle. And it meant a thoroughly mad morning for the delightful receptionist at the Auckland, Lisa, who goes on maternity leave from today. She's great, and I'm sure I won't be the only one to miss her.

The TRN folk I passed on the stairs seemed, understandably, a bit twitchy, although the sandwich lady certainly had a dry sense of humour.

"I hope there isn't a bomb in there," I quipped somewhat obviously, looking at her basket.

"Nope," she deadpanned. "But it's full of ricin."

Welcome to the modern world. Yes, of course, a bomb threat is out of all proportion to Holmes' original offence, and yes, diversity of opinion is important, even if it does offend. My main objection is that Holmes' effort was just such garbage. Such blathering, self-centred, unprofessional nonsense. Access to a broadcast audience is, in many ways, a privilege, and those of us who get it should be able to do better than that.

So, I'm having a morning of blaming the baby boomers and the unconscious sense of entitlement that some of them seem to carry around. Not all of them, mind: it seems only to manifest in those who have become used to an audience. In a nutshell, they mistake their inner life for the world.

And it's not just the blokes either. I actually read The Female Eunuch as a teenager - probably because the cover looked promising - and I don't doubt that it was a useful experience. But did anyone else see Germaine Greer talking to Kim Hill last night? Truly, she is barking.

The American feminist Katha Pollitt coined the excellent word "solipsisterhood", defined here by Barbara Ehrenreich as "the tendency of some women writers to generalise from their own small store of personal experience into universal pronouncements on womanhood."

So we get Greer coming out in favour of the Catholic Church's position on contraception, and declaring that young women should put child-bearing ahead of a career. She has made many such pronouncements over the years: on everything from the desirability of using cocaine (ie: she had some and liked it, so everyone should), the efficacy of withdrawal as a means of contraception, and the "fact" that men aren't interested in fathering.

In all cases, she simply creates an external justification for what's going on in her head. Often, it's quite entertaining. But sometimes, it's just weird. And it doesn't get much weirder than The Boy, a book of photographs of naked and semi-naked "ravishing" boys, with her text, due for publication next month. News of the book has prompted outrage, and other comments in her defence. But it's hard to regard what she said in this interview - when asked what attracted her to boys, she replied "Oh, everything; sperm that runs like tap water will do" - as anything other than creepy.

Anyway, I dropped in yesterday on the media launch for TV4's forthcoming free-to-air music TV venture, C4, which launches next Friday. I'm really looking forward to this thing. I think the hiring choices have been good - especially in respect of the two top bods, Suzanne Wilson and Andrew Szusterman - and, having seen the schedules, the programming looks right. There's a huge amount of goodwill out there for C4. And frankly, even if you're no fan of music television, you should bear in mind that the fallback option for the new TV4 was a shopping channel. Things could be a whole lot worse than they are.