Waxed off: Final insult to Julia

GILES HARDIE
Last updated 14:38 28/06/2013
Julia Gillard
Sydney Morning Herald

Extras try to bring wax stunt to life with their "acting" skills.

Julia Gillard
Sydney Morning Herald
JUST A JOKE, RIGHT? The wax figurine of the former Australian PM.

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OPINION: Where do you draw the line? When does a publicity stunt in the name of entertainment cross over into a tacky, potentially offensive, classless act of ticket sales over tact?

Well for me, that line lies somewhere a long way before this line: a photo of an "unemployment queue" outside a job centre featuring Australia's most recent former prime minister apparently waiting her turn, resume in hand, to sign up.

Except of course she isn't, wasn't and didn't.

A certain Sydney wax museum, which shall rename nameless to avoid giving them the publicity they desperately crave, placed their waxwork of Australia's first female prime minister among a cabal of witless, witting extras in order to take a few rain-soaked happy snaps. They've then sent them out with the following words:

"Following her dramatic fall from power on Wednesday night, Julia Gillard's wax figure yesterday made her way down to a job centre in Sydney to start looking for a new job. After losing the Labor party leadership ballot to Kevin Rudd on Wednesday night, the former Australian prime minister was seen lining up outside the job centre with a resume in hand, pondering her employment options amongst other job seekers waiting to be served.

"And while Julia Gillard's next calling in life is yet to be decided, she was quoted ahead of the leadership ballot as saying that whoever should lose Wednesday night's election should retire from politics. With that in mind, it seems Julia thought it would be best to head to a nearby job centre to claim some income support while she seeks out other potential careers."

Never mind the real people involved, it's all a bit of fun.

Except, of course, it isn't.

To me this is just offensive. A wet, waxen slap in the face, which is a visceral image in itself.

This is disrespectful to Julia Gillard and to the office of the prime minister of Australia; it's tacky, tasteless and incredibly short-sighted.

Granted, this is the sort of gesture that on the plus-side would render the making of a wax figurine in the first place a classy move. Yet surely, if you're the managers of a museum that consistently suggests its sculptures are an honour to those captured in wax, it's best not to then use the same sculptures as, at best, caricatures in some surreal real-world political cartoon?

The masterminds behind this stunt are the same team that released a press release in February announcing Beyonce and Britney Spears would arrive at the airport the following day to celebrate Mardi Gras. They didn't. Their wax figurines were just wheeled in from a truck that had driven over from Darling Harbour. They also tried to convince the media last year that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in Sydney and standing atop the Sydney Eye. In black tie. The photos supplied looked utterly convincing ... if you turned your monitor off.

On both occasions, they happily implied it was the actual people, not their lifeless, waxen doppelgangers. That's fine. Punking the media is a trump card in the publicist's deck.

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This is more than that - though be assured the press release proclaiming "Photo Release: Julia gets in line at local job centre" is trying to achieve the same result.

This is an unfunny joke at a respected leader's expense. If her political opponents did it they would be rightly chastised.

When an "entertainment venue" does it, it's a disgrace.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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