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TV's The Project is in Need of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Perhaps subconsciously I felt I hadn’t had my fill of slick-haired metro-twats during the day at work; but I found myself flagellating my own intellect the other night by watching The Project on TV.

Nick Wilson


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Perhaps subconsciously I felt I hadn’t had my fill of slick-haired metro-twats during the day at work, or maybe it comes down to my time-tested relationship with whiskey, weed, and the big blue couch; but I found myself flagellating my own intellect the other night by watching The Project on TV. I can’t figure out if the show is a shining example of sedative newstainment or some kind of televised welfare program for fuck-ugly jack-offs masquerading as comedians—or both— but what the hell? After all, it claims to be News, But Not As You Know It, though Not Really News At All would be snappier, and a little more accurate.

One thing you can always count on with The Project is a backasswards rundown that sees the show lead with some piece of graphically-enhanced, Google factoid hackery, usually delivered by Charlie Pickering; a man exceedingly conscientious about having a conscience, addressing some burningly current issue like: “we all love the sun, but new scientific research suggests it could be a leading cause of skin cancer...” or “we’ve all heard of honey, but did you know it comes from bees?”

Yes, the producers have bad trouble portioning up The Project's 45 minutes of airtime, presumably because of some kind of syphilitic dyslexia going around Channel Ten's offices. The usual result is that an interview with say, the Prime Minister, will last for about 30 seconds; while Carrie Bickmore will be permitted to openly weep for five minutes about a rabbit from Alice Springs who's dying of lymphoma. Ironically, this is about as good as the comic timing gets on that show.

The Project’s “coverage” of decorated cyclist Stuart O’Grady’s doping admission presented no exception, with very little time spent on the “issue”, but plenty allowed for the stroking of Australia’s sport-boner. The guest, Some Guy Who Gives a Shit About Cycling (Matt Keenan), detailed O’Grady’s affront to the whole concept of professional sport, making careful note of the fact that the track-marked scoundrel only copped to slamming erythropoietin because his name turned up on some French senatorial shit-list. Keenan also called bullshit on O’Grady’s claim that he’d only tried EPO once, which is presumably the dope-cheat’s version of “I didn’t inhale”. He made the usual noises about integrity and role models before his 45 seconds were up, and then it was time to revert to the standard panel circle-jerk.

Inevitably, the discussion turned to The Let-Down Fans. “I’m from Adelaide,” said former babe-Democrat Natasha Stott Despoja, “The city’s pretty gutted at the moment...he’s an icon in South Australia. It’s a big deal.”

Now, if the citizens of Adelaide really do consider a man-size gastrocnemius whose major life achievement was to ride a pushie up a steep incline to be their pride and joy, I couldn't give a fuck if the place were to be entombed by a dust storm tomorrow. To be fair though, a filthy drug cheat like O'Grady may indeed be the big catch in a pool that spawned Alexander Downer and John “Snowtown” Bunting.

Not even Earnest Charlie could muster a decent counterpoint to the panel's vacuous lamentations. He was happy enough to drop some furrowed-brow, hipster morality on Abbott's psychotic Sovereign Borders policy after the live cross to Steve Price, that shock-jock cocksucker with the face like a punched cunt. But just when the window opened for some self-righteous, socialist, Chomskian ejaculation about sport being a distraction for the masses and a perverse way to glorify the worst traits of humankind, all Pickering said was:  “I’m really having trouble with this one. I’m a massive Stuey fan. And Adelaide—devastated.”

The irony and (presumably) inadvertent hypocrisy of all of this is that The Project is actually well-poised to discuss the insane, cognitively dissonant fervour Australians have for sport—the O'Grady stuff was stationed above the asylum segment—or even posit ideas like all-dope sports leagues (think of the pharmaceutical coin that would garner)...but why bother? It seems to be an unspoken truth that nobody is surprised, or even, I suspect, all that concerned about athletes using booster drugs, probably because even the impressionable, dullard-morass is abstractly aware of the doublethink it takes to idolise ultra-competitive, elitist glandular mutants, charge them with claiming victory at any cost, and then get pissed when they win by not playing fair.

But fuck all that. Might still equals Right and You Can’t Swim Against The Tide. If lip service to the archaic concept of the level playing field must persist, I hereby propose a very slight shift in the way we perceive sport:

From now on, each sport should only command emotional investment to a level concordant with the use its skills would be in the event of an Apocalypse. Rugby League fans, you’re in luck. Huge, vicious meatheads with a pack mentality and a proclivity for gang-rape are sure to fare well in the Brave New World—unlike today—and so too would those versed in some of the more traditional athletic disciplines: javelin throwers, shot-putters, archers, etc.

Not so much cyclists. Cycling is similar to swimming in its futility as a skill. No speed achievable by a human in water can match, say, a Great White Shark's;and to be any good at cycling you obviously have to be cranked to the gills. When Chris Froome said cycling is “probably the cleanest sport”, I assumed he was talking about fresh needles, and pharmacies will no doubt be hotly contested among ran sackers in the event of the Rapture. If your main attribute is to be shameless enough to rock a pair of skin-tight, padded shorties, you're gonna be shit out of luck when the hammer comes down.

Sport needs spectators and TV shows need ratings. The public yearns for something fresh, something with purpose that satisfies the human hunger for a new extreme, a brutal novelty: sub-celebrity amateur bare-knuckle brawling. An undercard fight between Peter Helliar and David “I-can't-believe-I-get-paid-for-this-shit” Hughes would be a start, and then, as we approach the top draw, we'll see who's really in the closet when doctors Chris Brown and Adrian Rochford bitch-slap it out. Bickmore and her counterpart, that fringe with a woman attached, would bring a salacious flavour to proceedings. Earnest Charlie is welcome to call it, if he can pull his head out of his own ass for long enough to form vowel-sounds. And the best part? The whole spectacle can be completely free of performance enhancing drugs. All it would take is a little whiskey, a little speed and a whole arse-load of bullshit.


Follow Nick on Twitter: @HighBarbary

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