Why Waleed Aly should not not win a Gold Logie

In RendezView today, Victoria Hannaford wrote an article today listing six reasons why Waleed Aly should not win the Gold Logie. I tend to disagree. Here’s a response to each of her arguments.

1) We need better programming on commercial TV.

Norman Gunston, surely the most worthy winner everHer argument, as best as I can understand it, goes like this:

We need commercial TV of excellent quality, and Waleed is excellent, whereas The Verdict on Channel Nine could have been excellent, but wasn’t because it was rushed, but they should have spent more time on it, whereas Waleed has gravitas, unlike this other show that I’m mentioning just because, also Ten has stuck with The Project which is a refreshing contrast with crappy reality TV unlike Nine with The Verdict although, wait, that wasn’t all that good anyway, so we should discourage Nine from not sticking with The Verdict by not rewarding Waleed from The Project.

Right.

And she says this even though one of The Project’s other stars, Carrie Bickmore, won the Gold Logie last year, before The Verdict was even broadcast, so whatever impact giving a Gold Logie to someone from that show would have had on other channels has already been experienced, and… and…

I’d have thought that rewarding smart analysis with a Gold Logie might be a sensible way to encourage more of that kind of thing, but then again, I haven’t the insight into the highly relevant inner machinations behind The Verdict that Hannaford appears to have.

2) There’s more worthy talent in his field on SBS and ABC.

Yeah look, the national broadcasters are awesome. But this is the Gold Logie. A popularly-voted popularity contest. The ABC and SBS can, and will, clean up in the Most Outstanding news and current affairs categories like they usually do.

(We also tend to clean up in the Most Outstanding Comedy category, an award that we at The Chaser have won, but no biggie, not boasting or anything, mentioned it by total accident.)

The reason why Leigh Sales isn’t nominated for the Gold Logie is why our finest journalists never are (sorry Ray) – because, again, it’s a popularity contest voted for by people who care about the Gold Logie. It’s called the “Gold Logie Gold Logie Award for Best Personality on Australian Television”. Not the “Gold Logie For Devastating Interviews Of Prime Ministers”.

It’s also worth noting that it’s voted for by people who like the idea of hijacking the Gold Logie vote, a tradition that goes all the way back to Norman Gunston – the only ABC personality ever to win. The ‘fun’ vote gave Hamish Blake his win, and Ray Meagher and John Wood, too – this year it’s Lee Lin Chin’s turn.

3) Aly’s biased – but that’s not his fault.

She doesn’t give any evidence of bias whatsoever, she merely makes the point that he has an opinion. She suggests he contradicts himself when he is a “journalist” interviewing Shane Warne, and then editorialises about terrorism.

No. His role on The Project is to be Waleed Aly, a serious academic who also has a great sense of humour and has a gun knowledge of pop culture. It’s all opinion. And it’s in no way contradictory. It’s the format of that show.

“Sure, he’s smart and tenacious enough to pivot between perspectives, but is he there as a journalist, analyst or a TV host?” she asks.

All three of these elements are part of simply being Waleed Aly, which is his job. And the fact that he does them all so well is, dare I say, why he’s been nominated.

But how kind to say that the “bias” it isn’t his fault!

4) Diversity needs to become the norm.

And. What. Better. Way. To. Demonstrate. That. This. Is. Already. Happening. Than. By. A. Guy. Called. Waleed. Getting. A. Gold. Logie?

“The fact that he’s an Australian of Egyptian background and a Muslim should be incidental, not remarkable”, she says. Even if this bald assertion is true, again, surely this nomination proves that it’s becoming incidental. He’s not “the Muslim guy” on The Project. He’s Waleed. You know, the smart guy.

How offensive to suggest that he’s been nominated because of his background, instead of because people like him!

Also, white people issuing pronouncements about what diversity ‘needs’ – awks.

5) Aly needs to be truly popular to win.

Eh? If he wins, then he is truly popular, isn’t he? At least according to the dubious imprimatur of the Gold Logie?

The argument here seems to be that he needs to host a ‘big’ show like Sunrise to be worthy. For one thing, The Project gets hundreds of thousands more viewers than breakfast shows, for another – we’re talking abou the Gold Logie. Was Ray Meagher truly popular, or did people think it was an amusing idea for Alf from Home and Away to win?

One thing I’m certain of is that the most frequently shared clips I’ve seen on social media over the past year are editorials from one W. Aly. Victoria Hannaford could have read this article by her news.com.au colleague Liz Burke to explain why.

If social media shares don’t indicate popularity in 2016, then all of our news websites seriously need to rethink the articles they give prominence on their homepages.

6) He’s not on social media

Yeah, he is. He doesn’t have a Twitter account, sure. But Waleed is all over social media, all the time, through shares.

But really, how much credence can you give an argument that includes this paragraph:

Aly is going to be hard pressed to compete with Lin Chin and her social media sass. Almost a year ago she tweeted “Just decided to win the gold next year, I deserve it #TVWEEKLogies”. Touché

Without acknowledging that Lee Lin Chin isn’t, in fact, on Twitter, and didn’t write that. Her (admittedly very popular) tweets are written by the team from The Feed, who have cultivated her social media status with great aplomb. But it ain’t her.

And in conclusion

What troubles me most about Victoria Hannaford’s article is not that arguments 1, 3, 4 and 6 actually constitute reasons for giving him the thing.  Nor is it that the majority of these arguments, namely 1, 2, 3 and 5, could also apply to his colleague Carrie Bickmore. Who, again, won last year.

It’s that her piece seems to have started as an effort to try to find reasons why Waleed shouldn’t win. That she didn’t do a great job of this only goes to show what a worthy recipient it should be. And even if each point wasn’t eminently rebuttable, the enormous, and ironic, respect and admiration she seems to have for Aly throughout her article is an excellent counter to all of her points.

But why would anyone set out to write an article arguing against someone whose victory would represent considerable progress towards a television industry whose diversity reflects modern Australia’s? Maybe because of all the comments they’ve gotten. Was that the point? (My favourite was the one that said they were a “taxpayer funded waste of time”.)

Waleed Aly’s ethnicity and religion are an important part of what he brings to the table, but they’re not why he’s sitting at it. He’s the smartest guy in the room, ridiculously dapper, and he plays incredible rock guitar. In fact, I’m deeply jealous of the guy.

For what it’s worth, I’m sure Waleed would rather win an ARIA or a Walkley than a Gold Logie. Sorry, I mean another Walkley. And in the unlikely event that I vote, I’ll be backing Lee Lin Chin, both for her long career and because it’s the most amusing option on the table.

But it’s a fine thing nevertheless that Waleed Aly has been nominated. Obviously.

2 Responses to Why Waleed Aly should not not win a Gold Logie

  1. DMS 6 April 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    FWIW I think the tele article is a crap attempt at satire.
    I mentally fisked it, and came to the realisation it was written by a barely-functional moron, or it was some kind of “ironic” pisstake that missed the mark by a mile.
    And I really don’t like Aly at all – but if he gets the gong, good on him – by definition he is popular and so deserves it.

  2. Miss Andrea 7 April 2016 at 5:14 am #

    I just can’t like this enough. Outstanding rebuttal, Dom. Thank you for writing it.

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