Guest Blogger: Darren Groth – author, speaker, mentor, parent
(to see all of Darren’s Arguwrite posts)
The Australian Government is currently pondering Parallel Importation (PI) of books – a de-regulation whereby Australian written and published works would have to compete with a flood of overseas knock-offs – more often than not American – of said works. This is a bad thing.
To understand exactly why, check out Tim Winton’s excellent recent Miles Franklin speech and the briefing notes from Saving Aussie Books. These arguments are powerful, eloquent, irrepressible. They reflect unanimity in all sectors of the book industry – a rare occurrence indeed. They lay out grisly examples of this implementation elsewhere in the world, citing disturbing facts and damnable stats. They are coming from a place of good intention.
Remarkably, this foolproof approach to the issue has not won the day. The enemy doesn’t see fit to align with reason. So let me re-position the debate a little. Let me use a voice to resonate with the naysayers. Let me, utilizing the preferred tools of our opponents’ trade – cliché and hyperbole, dodgy allegory and sensationalist drivel – make a statement they will understand.
May I present to you… The Magnum PI Arguwrite Against PI.
Now, Magnum PI, aka Tom Selleck, did very well. Really made something of himself. He was the cornerstone of a show that owed its success to a “…wide range of stories appealing to a broad cross section of fans.” But there was more to the Magnum triumph than mere well-told tales.
There was the moustache.
The moustache gave ol’ Tommy-boy personality. Individuality. It set him apart from the crowd. Made him a relateable, reliable, bankable industry. Sure, the same sorts of stories were done elsewhere, on Hawaii Five-O and The Rockford Files. Jack Lord, though, didn’t have the soup-strainer. James Garner’s dial bore no evidence of face-fungus. The mo made the show.
But then a brain snap was indulged by peripheral folks who thought they knew better. Maybe it was his agents? His stylists? Perhaps it was Allen Fels and Bob Carr? Who knows? Wherever responsibility rests, they saw an opportunity for themselves. They ignored successful precedent. They claimed the average fan could get a better deal. Unfortunately, they proved as convincing as they were misguided. And so, after a long period of very real cultural and commercial accomplishment, the iconic Thomas ‘Magnum’ Selleck ditched the mo.
Thankfully for the actor, the change was identified as grievous gaffe soon after, and he went on to perform many more ’stache-centric TV and movie roles in the decades that followed. Looking back, Selleck probably wishes he had followed his instincts. As he himself said: “Son, never throw a punch at a Redwood.”
Prime Minister Rudd and colleagues – do the right thing. Leave the PI where it belongs, with Magnum and his mo.
Do the wrong thing, shave the face of the Oz publishing industry with parallel imports…and we’ll be putting the razor to our collective wrists in the end.