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AnalysisApril 9, 2015

Campbell Dead? Don’t Do it MediaWorks


Joseph Harper responds to the outrageous revelations that Campbell Live may be on the outs.

Tweet King and Herald media man John Drinnan dropped a bizarre and shocking shocker on us all this arvo with the revelation that Campbell Live could be facing the chop. Worse still, it could be replaced with a daily dose of Jono and Ben at Ten!

Public reaction was as you’d expect.

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Even the direct beneficiaries were up in arms:

What a sad guy
What a sad guy

I’m no media watchdog, but this seems like a trash move. Sure, It’s entirely possible the Campbell Live format may be past its prime. The man’s recent predilection toward cardigan underlay and frequent bouts of tear duct incontinence might indicate so. And in his current form, Jonathan Campbell almost exists as a kind of yin counterpoint to Michael Hosking’s yangy bleats from the Seven Sharp desk. But he still gets out from behind his desk every now and then and does bloody good reporting. What Campbell Live needs is a shot in the arm, not to be pulled from the air.

At it’s absolute worst, Campbell Live is a glut of feel-good mush, but when it’s on form – at least one segment, most mights – it has proven itself powerful enough to enact genuine social change, as Jose Barbosa preached after the shows recent 10 year anniversary.

It brazenly flies in the face of mass cynicism and allows its own bleeding heart to beat loud enough to remind us all that we have them too. At times it feels like this country won’t even acknowledge an issue unless John Campbell puts it on display and shames us into caring. Which seems bleak, but would be bleaker still if we didn’t have someone goading us into reaction.

From a public relations standpoint this seems insane. There were people who were angry when Paul Henry got sacked after calling a foreign dignitary “the dip shit woman”. Can you even imagine the outrage that would result from the plug being pulled on the people’s champ, simply because of internal politics?

The idea of a daily #JABAT seems questionable too. Although the show has gathered together a swag of young talent since its 2012 debut, they’d be the first to admit they’re already struggling with the workload of a single hour of weekly comedy tele – or so the exponential growth rate of their own expressions of self-loathing would indicate.

Maybe this is ultimately our own fault, given our constant and probably unjustified ‘worship’ at the various shrines and altars Christie and co. have presented created. I assume people realise that John Campbell’s stuff has the potential to be good and occasionally absolutely necessary, but maybe that doesn’t show up whatever high-tech ‘feedback form’ they use on Flower Street.

Perhaps this kind of thing is inevitable and the only real avenue of protest is to join the talented masses already within the confines of the Mediaworks empire openly (jokingly?) bemoaning whatever prison they’ve allowed themselves to be locked in. Which ultimately feels about as pointless as selling your Mazda in solidarity with John Campbell.

Keep going!