I was taking a walk the other day. It was a nice day – the sun was out, calm breeze, not too cold. Probably Melbourne’s last nice day for a while. I sat on a bench by the Yarra to light a smoke and take it all in.
Then I opened Twitter.
Scott Morrison’s face in all its glory: a face like a dropped meat pie, fist-beggingly smug as ever, saying some dumb shit with the charisma of a pug with a mouthful of bees. Our great leader.
Albanese: yawn personified. Goddammit.
Needless to say, this was quite a dampener on an otherwise lovely day. So, naturally, I scrolled some more. So many blue ticks, so many takes. So many overly-online losers competing for The Take. God. I'm over this election already.
If only there was a way to take my mind off it all. If only there was a soundtrack to a classic early-2000s animated film I could play on repeat, ad nauseam, for seven days, as a totally cool and normal coping mechanism to deal with the impending prospect of not only another who-knows-how-many-years of seeing Morrison’s infuriatingly self-satisfied smirk, but the slow descent into man-made climate apocalypse, or the fast descent into World War 3!
Gee, if only.
On the morning of day one, I turned on the news and began to get a tad stressed about the endless stream of stupid gotcha questions, how “not woke” Albo and Shitface are, and the fact that both major parties are refusing to address climate change and we’ll all die early because of it!
But then I remembered I could just not think about that stuff and listen to the Shrek soundtrack instead. And that made me happy.
My housemate's cat, Esmeralda, had a curious reaction to “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, and an even more intense reaction to “Hallelujah”. She’d go up real close to my portable speaker as the songs played and just sit, staring trance-like into the middle distance. She was really into my newfound taste in music. My housemate? Not so much.
I awoke on day two feeling good. Really good. It's amazing what setting your alarm to Smash Mouth’s “All Star” can do for one's mental health.
That afternoon a friend came over. I poured us some drinks and asked if he minded if I put the Shrek soundtrack on. “Go for it dude.”
That night we ended up at a house party, only the house party was all-black Matrix themed. We, in our very bright clothes, had clearly not gotten the memo.
I thought about trying to hijack the speakers to play some Ricky Martin, but the vibe was off. So I went outside, lit a smoke, and played some “I’m a Believer” on my phone. People were looking at us funny so we soon left.
I fought off the Sunday scaries at the gym. By this point, I really didn't want to be listening to the Shrek soundtrack. I was very over it. At least, I thought I was. But the thing about the Shrek soundtrack is that although the prospect of it can lose its lustre, once it's actually playing, you can't help but be captivated and subsequently taken by The Vibe.
At one point, I lay all the way back on a decline bench, the type of bench where you're kind of upside down and kind of not, and just listened to “Funkytown” till the blood began to pool in my head. It was wonderful.
Once home, I showered, ate lunch, and began to let the hanxiety bad vibes in. I began wondering what the point of this whole thing was. Was I using these week-long social experiments as a way to deflect my responsibility as a “real journalist”? Was I just falling victim to a cookie-cutter, tried and tested style of content as a way to cope with being ultimately powerless to make any real impact on the fate of this slowly decaying rock?
When my grandkids ask me what I did to help make the world a better place, how would I even begin to describe Shrek to them?
But then I opened Tinder and got over it.
On the fourth day I had a friend over for Shrekspresso martinis. They’re like regular espresso martinis, but with green food dye. They're beautiful.
On my first attempt, I only added a few drops of food dye, which didn't make the martinis green at all, it just resulted in a regular espresso martini that looked slightly off. So for the next one, I poured in half of the tiny green food dye bottle I had.
Later that day my housemate had a boy over. I asked him if he wanted a Shrekspressso martini, explaining my creation. He said he just wanted a regular one instead.
Day five presented a challenge I’d been dealing with all week. See, as much as you can control what you personally listen to, you can’t control the world. Every day we are bombarded by sounds, man. Can you imagine a world completely void of background music? A silent supermarket? A silent restaurant? A silent bar? It's unsettling, unnerving.
On this day, I was working from the office. It’s one thing to subject myself to a constant stream of Smash Mouth, but I couldn't in good conscience do that to my colleagues. So I resigned myself to the office music which is usually quite good. Except today Chet Faker was playing, which wasn’t ideal because a) he’s a pretentious wanker, and b) he tried to steal my girlfriend in 2017. So I dislike him for both of those reasons, in that order.
So I chucked on my headphones and opened Spotify and… oh no.
The algorithm was adapting. No… I thought I had more time.
I went to the bathroom to wash my face.
What have I become?
Today I discovered there's a Shrek subreddit with more than 75,000 members, or “ogres” as they refer to themselves. That wasn't the only cursed discovery I made on day six. Far from it. For instance, did you know there's a Shrek-themed burlesque show in Melbourne? Called Shreklesque. Unfortunately the next show isn't til June, after the election. Lame.
On that note, the internet is filled with Shrek porn. In fact, I'm hoping to publish this article soon because I have some explaining to do if HR cottons on to my recent googling habits.
There's also a slew of everyday Shrek-themed products. If you can name it, there's a Shrek version of it. Shrek toothpaste, Shrek twinkies, Shrek monopoly, Shrek condoms. It goes on.
I wanted to get this Shrek mug that had the entirety of the first movie's script printed on it, but it didn't deliver to Australia, and the Shrek shampoo I was so very excited about trying was, sadly, discontinued.
On the final day, I found myself on a train. I tried doing what every angsty teenager does and blasted music from my phone, only instead of 50 Cent’s “21 Questions”, it was “Holding Out for a Hero” by the Fairy Godmother. But no one seemed to care. No one turned around or even budged.
And maybe that's a great analogy for society writ large today. We are so desensitised to fucked shit that we’ve simply stopped caring. Some loser playing loud songs on his phone? Cool, whatever. Slowly but surely killing this planet by continuously electing incompetent leaders? Awesome.
This is usually the point in the story where I give some spiel about what I learned, where I tie in some deeper meaning to the silly experiment. But I didn't learn shit.
Sure, it was nice to take a break from the constant barrage of absolute crap that comes with every election, especially when you work in media, where you're surrounded by so many people with clear and obvious brain worms who spout on so confidently about things they should not be weighing in on.
But switching off completely doesn't help anyone. Plus, you'll get fined if you don't vote, so you might as well make your vote count.
So now all that's left is to pick between the guy that's a bit boring, or the guy who needed his wife to explain to him that rape is bad, smirked his way through fucking up the vaccine roll-out and JobKeeper while gaslighting us the whole way through, handballing actually dealing with COVID to the state premiers, grinned smugly as the country flooded, fucked off to Hawaii during Australia’s biggest ever bushfire disaster, then somehow, I shit you not, tried to make that Labor’s fault when he was called out on it, told you to buy a house if you can't afford rent, is referred to by members of his own party as a: “hypocrite”, “liar” “absolute asshole”, “fraud”, “complete psycho” and “horrible, horrible person”, was the prime marketer in chief of Australia’s most corrupt government ever, did the totally normal and non-psycho move of hiring an empathy coach for $200,000, and continuously does dumb shit like this lmao:
Fuck man, tough call.