With seven little words – “we should all lighten the f*** up” – Gold Logie laureate Tom Gleeson set the Australian television industry aflame. Debate was fast and furious. Should we all lighten the f*** up? If we did lighten the f*** up, what did it mean for the future of the industry? How would lightening the f*** up improve on-screen diversity and help us tell our own stories? What role for government is there in lightening the f*** up? With recent cuts to the ABC budget, is lightening the f*** up even viable in a financial sense?
The ABC just happened to be the big winner on the night of nights, with programs like Mystery Road and Gardening Australia winning “most popular” categories, despite major obstacles such as the dictionary definition of the word “popular”. Gardening Australia’s splendidly bearded Costa Georgiadis won Most Popular Presenter, even though Gleeson, a presenter, won Most Popular Personality. This means one of two things: either Costa is popular for something other than his personality, or the Logies makes no sense – but I don’t think that can be true. Can it?
Channel Ten was also a big winner, with shows like The Project, Have You Been Paying Attention and Gogglebox Australia taking home statuettes, proving that the Australian public really does appreciate anyone who can minimise production costs. In contrast, the big-spending high-flyers at Seven and Nine went home empty-handed, a shocking result for them that raised the question: is the golden age of terrible television over? After all, no Logies for Married At First Sight is surely a sign of its waning popularity. Although to be fair, the fact that massive numbers of people watch it is something of a counterargument to that.
Which is the big issue facing the Logies: for how long can an awards show based on rewarding the most popular programs on Australian television continue handing out gongs to shows that are objectively much less popular than the ones that lose? Well, they’ve been doing it for sixty years so far, so I guess they’ll keep on for a few more years yet.
But the Logies, as a night of nights, isn’t so much about the awards themselves, as the spectacle, the drama and the controversy. Gleeson himself, of course, provided much of the latter, bookending the ceremony with his opening monologue and his acceptance speech. He began the night by ruthlessly slagging off Australian television and everyone in it, though mostly Karl Stefanovic. If Stefanovic had been sober at the time he’d probably have found it quite hurtful, but as it was, he laughed along like a good sport, even if he was crying on the inside. In fact, “crying on the inside” would be a pretty good theme for Logies nights. Gleeson eviscerated the scene at the start and then kicked the remains about a bit at the end. It was a wonderful sight to see, especially the obvious discomfort of many in the room at being reminded of the essential emptiness of their existence. Well, celebs, now you know how we feel: we have to be reminded of that every day.
Kerry O’Brien provided one of the night’s other highlights when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his many decades of being impersonated by Kim Gyngell. He gave a fiery, impassioned speech in which he railed against government policy of gutting the ABC, thereby ensuring the gutting would continue indefinitely. He also slammed the journalistic profession itself for letting the world down on issues such as climate change. “We have not properly held politicians to account,” O’Brien fumed, which was probably another swipe at Karl Stefanovic. O’Brien finished by calling on Australians to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is the kind of thing you’d expect from a typical ABC lefty ratbag. All in all, O’Brien’s speech made everyone watching feel grateful they lived in a country where they can easily forget about all the issues that he raised and not feel guilty about them.
But as always, Logies night was really about the frocks. All of Australia’s most beautiful dress-wearers made a gargantuan effort to satisfy the rapacious appetite of institutional sexism that fuels the fashion and entertainment industries. Everyone agreed that Sophie Monk was the big winner in the fashion stakes, entering the Guinness Book of World Records as the wearer of the world’s largest chocolate wrapper. Among the also-rans, Sam Frost wowed observers by carrying off her white jacket with aplomb despite forgetting to put on the pants. Then there was Sonia Kruger, who made a Herculean effort to arrive at the ceremony on time, halfway through escaping from the stomach of a python. April Rose Pengilly looked stunning in a small pink tube with a dress trailing off the back, and Delta Goodrem brought new meaning to the phrase “don’t bother” with what you might call her “outfit”. And then there were the men. Presumably.
All in all, it was a glittering evening that truly did celebrate the very best in the terrifyingly steep decline of Australian television. One of the most heartening parts of the affair was the victory of Wentworth in the Outstanding Drama Series category (one of those categories created to pander to the snobbish artsy crowd) and Jacki Weaver’s Bloom as Outstanding Miniseries or Telemovie. These truly proved that streaming is the future and that most of last night’s attendees will see their careers end very, very soon.
But in the end, the true winners from Logies 2019 were the people who won. Massive congratulations to Costa Georgiadis for bringing about the renaissance of gardening; to Luke McGregor for officially being an actor, and of course to Tom Gleeson, for showing us a vision of a world where everyone has lightened the f*** up.