There’s a line everyone knows; do not feed the trolls.
In the lead up to the 2016 Australian Federal Election, that is exactly what happened. Pauline Hanson was paid to appear on Sunrise, and the majority of election coverage was given to those who said scandalous things.
The rise of Pauline Hanson is not unexpected. She has a brand (red-hair, right-wing, says anything that’ll stir outrage) which has been carefully cultivated for the past 20 years and she has talking points that resonate around television studios long after they have been shared.
Her policy ideals do not align with the majority of Australians and contain contradictions that would concern her own base, as I have no doubt those who support Royal Commission into Islam or Climate Change would be greatly dismayed by the the cost of holding such commissions in the era of the ‘debt crisis’... #GovernmentWaste
Pauline’s party, One Nation, looks set to enter parliament not because what they share are the views of the 250,000 people, but because their dear leader is a walking news piece. Her outlandish comments become news because they draw ratings, in an incredibly Trumpian style. I’m not what you’d call Facebook famous, but a recent two sentence status update of mine garnered far more attention than it should have, based purely on it’s subject matter; Pauline Hanson.
Had it been a post about any other politician or issue, this post would not have received nearly as much attention.
Pauline is divisive, but she lacks real power. In the Senate she will hold a tiny 3 seats out of 76. Wether she is in the senate for three years or six, with numbers as low as that she will never achieve her policy ambitions, especially when there are considerably more centrist voting blocks for the coalition to negotiate with to get their legislation through the senate.
However, the same media attention that got her party elected this election will continue to do lip-service to her fringe views. Whilst she will yield no legislative abilities, she will be asked to comment on any policy or drama within parliament house, as it will ‘add colour’ to any policy heavy discussion on ‘boring things’, like health, education or treating people humanly should they choose to flee their war-torn home nation.
However, as consumers, we could remove this media power from her immediately. That is, if we’re willing to go without her admittedly entertaining presence.
The only way that Pauline Hanson can be beaten is by turning off the television she appears on, not clicking the articles she appears in and ignoring the status updates (like mine) that scream 'PH SPOTTED'. Without her television ratings, Pauline Hanson is nothing.
Naturally, this won’t happen. As 21st century internet-powered human-bots, we are hard-wired to crave scandal, and when Pauline appears on television, we know what comes out of her mouth will make us cringe, swear and cry. She’s a talking point, walking click-bait and a name that everyone has a view on, wether they would even recognise her if she walked past them on the street or not.
If there are cameras present, Pauline will be there, even if it’s on the ABC, because she knows that no matter what quote the media pull apart in the aftermath, her name and her brand will be brandied about even more, further engraining her message into our heads wether we like it or not.
We will keep watching and reading about Pauline, her ratings will subsequently go up, we will see even more of her, she will become even more of a house-hold name and then we will act shocked and mortified every time she is reelected.
So here's a novel, innocent, utopian and very naive idea; fight back against Pauline by ignoring her, and turn it off. But I know this is too big an ask for myself, and probably you too.
Note: Please know that I understand the entirely obvious irony of asking someone to ignore someone whilst simultaneously drawing attention to that someone.