19 April 2011 | jamesmoule
Australian feminism remembered
The '60s were prudish times in Australia, and elsewhere. The churches were full, skirts were well below the knee, sex was not discussed. People entered marriage in complete ignorance and, it seems, often stayed that way for the duration. Sex was for having children. Enjoyment of sex was fornication and invited an afterlife spent burning in Hell. The revolution that started in the late '60s was slow to have much impact. Feminism was lampooned as the "burn your bra" movement. Men rarely saw that the effect of women embracing feminism was actually going to benefit them by providing much more fulfilling relationships. "Paper Giants" reminds us of the times and of the part played by the new-look women's magazines like Cosmo, Dolly and, in this case, Cleo. I was concerned that this would be a big plug for the magazine on a public broadcaster but I came away from the two night mini series with a smile on my face. The realism is admirable. The acting is outstanding. Asher Keddie IS Ita Buttrose. The lisp, the toss of the hair, all great mimicry. The hardest job was to find a real Kerry Packer and Bob Carlton does about as well as anyone could do. No one can look like Kerry Packer but Carlton makes us believe in his character. The one character not quite realised is Frank Parker. Perhaps the producers are not old enough to remember him in his last years with his super-thick glasses and constant swallowing of built-up phlegm. I would have thought that a look at one of the late interviews would have made this an easy character to copy but Tony Barry's Frank Parker is of a younger and more dynamic man altogether. The minor stories are also well done as they run parallel to the issues covered in the magazine articles. Jessica Tovey as Leslie Carpenter is particularly impressive in portraying the young girl from the western suburbs caught in an affair with a married older man while engaged to an insensitive "yob". Perhaps this series will have little appeal outside of Australia but I expect that the opinions that I have expressed will be shared by a great many other Australians. As for Ita, how many remember "Ita Buttrose but it kept getting caught in my underpants".