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Introduction to Frontline

The Frontline series is a send-up of current affairs programs such as A Current Affair, Sixty Minutes or Today Tonight.  As a satire it shamelessly imitates, parodies, subverts, exaggerates and ridicules the infotainment industry.  Mike Moore, coiffed, manicured, air brushed with cosmetics, parodies Ray Martin or Mike Willesie.  From the opening montage with its rapid upbeat  urgent music, through to its high packed melodramatic, often ironic endings, with the shuffling of papers and the pensive“mmmm…”  the presenter, Mike Moore,  like an actor, everything written for him, even down to the nods and winks is caricatured as articulate, well-informed and knowledgeable. It is only the exposure of the back room scenes that reveal a gentle mockery of the clichéd artificiality of the façade, the hollowness of the pretence.

The realism of the series  had many people fooled; they initially thought the show was for real.  This verisimilitude was accomplished by using hand held cameras with grainy footage, stereotypical characters; a tough hardnosed producer, (Brian Thompson) glamorous ambitious female reporter (Brooke Vandenberg) contrasted with a tired, experience cynical investigative journalist (Martin di Stasio) and a well groomed slick host (Mike Moore).  Other deceptive but credible features include imitations of real news stories together with “live” re-enactments and references or allusions to real events (Sieges, Logies, Burkes Backyard, The Great Debate) and actual people ( Cheryl Kernot, George Negus, John Clarke, Bert Newton, Ann Fulwood…) These true to life performances blur the lines between life and fiction.

Tabloid journalism (popular, mindless, and glossy) tends to sensationalise daily, pedestrian local issues.  Often an alarmist, provocative or inflammatory approach is taken.  The issues tend to be trivial ones that ordinary people can relate to.  Human interest is paramount.  Seldom are programs aimed at uplifting or edifying as only 10% of the population is politically engaged, rather program designers pander to the masses, dumbing down the stories to the lowest common denominator to appeal to as wide an audience as possible to maximise ratings.   If possible these media beat-ups will try to whip up hysteria and can create an artificial state of frenzy with plenty of heat but little light.  It is no surprise that Emma spends a lot of her “research” time looking through glossy tabloid magazines and tabloid newsheets for topical issues.  Frontline is shallow, petty and trivial in trying to enlighten the masses, it merely titillates them to improve its ratings and acquire more advertising dollars for the shareholders.

Image or perception is everything, notice how often the main presenters fuss over their grooming to “look” glamorous esp Brooke and Mike’s cosmetics.

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