Can The Logies Survive Tom Gleeson?
ABC comedian Tom Gleeson easily won the “prestigious” Gold Logie and said that the 60-year-old TV awards night could not handle such upheaval.
But the 45-year-old comedian deserves to be shown the door as rudely as the losing contestants on his Hard Quiz show. The Logies will easily survive Gleeson’s detonation attempt. The awards night is harder to kill than a cockroach after a nuclear holocaust.
While the industry hated Gleeson’s win, after a scabrous campaign that denigrated opponents and treated the Gold Logie race as a joke, the Millennial generation who gets its dopamine hits from ruthless social media takedowns loved it.
The Logies has not been this popular in years. People raced online to vote. Ratings were up, social media exploded. And two days after Gleeson shell-shocked his TV peers in the room at the glitzy The Star casino on the Gold Coast, those two great barometers of popular culture, Daily Mail Australia and News.com.au were still full of the blowback.
Former Gold Logie winner Karl Stefanovic called him a “24 karat gold tosser”. A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw (who lost out thanks to Gleeson’s campaigning for Grant Denyer last year) and The Project presenter Waleed Aly (who won in 2016) both went on the offensive.
Sad fact of life: Controversies get you noticed. See Donald Trump. See Boris Johnson. See Reese Witherspoon as Tracey Flick in the film Election.
Controversy won Gleeson the TV industry’s top gong, but it also benefits the Logies themselves, which has a water-tight multimillion-dollar deal to keep broadcasting for three more years on the Gold Coast thanks to the Queensland government, The Star casino, Gold Coast City Council, Channel Nine and TV WEEK magazine publisher Bauer Media.
Gleeson’s genius was to frame his campaign for the Logies as a joke.
It was all about “taking the piss and not giving a shit” and rather than boycott the ceremony as a waste of space, he then confessed he had devoted a massive amount of time and effort into doing so for the past two years.
And his acceptance speech was all about why he was a legitimate winner, as Hard Quiz is the highest rating game show on TV. It is true Hard Quiz is a great show. As Gleeson’s piss-take interview Hard Chat segment on The Weekly is a gem. And as the Logies was once won by Scott Cam for doing little more than swinging a blackboard around to reveal home renovation scores on The Block, we can hardly call Tom Gleeson the worst winner.
Cam won after a concerted Channel Nine campaign. People have always campaigned. This year the ABC’s fusty Gardening Australia campaigned in its 30th anniversary year and won two awards. Neighbours actress Colette Mann urged UK fans to vote online, breaking voting rules. And Kerri-Anne Kennerley claimed that in the 1980s, Channel 10 publicists would cut the coupons from "hundreds if not thousands of TV WEEKs" to increase certain stars' chances of winning a Gold Logie.
So it’s stretching the bow rather long to suggested that Gleeson’s campaign, while unusually nasty against his rivals, will ruin the Logies. After all, the Oscars survived when Harvey Weinstein campaigned for Shakespeare in Love in 1999. It won the Oscar for best picture, beating Saving Private Ryan.
And the Gold Logie is still incredibly valuable to those who win it. An indication of the benefit of the win to Gleeson came when he asked people to do something for his own personal charity -- “Ticketmaster”. His tour kicks off in weeks.
But Sunday night was a turning point. It was a wake up call.
As Gleeson pointed out, the local industry is dying. “We are all watching Netflix or Stan. We don’t watch each other’s shows anymore. When you see each other at a party you don’t say ‘love your show’ because you haven’t seen it. You say ‘How good’s Chernobyl?'”
But Gleeson harnessed that indifference, mobilising a social media generation who don't care that much for Australian television into a voting army that allowed him to grasp TV's ultimate prize.
My final point is that the Logies will survive because, like our local TV industry that tells our stories, a night to award the storytellers is worth having.
Sunday night had moving, funny and important moments. Former 7.30 Report host Kerry O’Brien was inducted into the Hall of Fame and lambasted attacks on the ABC while criticising the media for being complicit in fake news campaigns against climate change.
Wheelchair athlete Dylan Alcott delivered one of the night's best moments when he gave an impassioned speech while accepting the Graham Kennedy Award for most outstanding newcomer. "I've been in a wheelchair my whole life and I hated it," he said. "And one of the reasons I did hate it was when I turned on the TV I never saw anybody like me."
Australia is a great creative nation. And a country that can’t loudly celebrate and champion its cultural endeavours is a pretty poor one indeed.
Featured Image: AAP