When I was younger – much younger – before I became a filmmaker I used to be a television reporter.
I was trained in news journalism at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and at the tender age of 23, after completing a three year cadetship, I moved across to the ABC’s flagship current affairs show at the time, This Day Tonight. I chose to be stationed in Adelaide, because I knew I’d screw up, being young and raw, and I figured that my televisual embarrassments would go largely unseen in the South Australian backwater.
Not much happened in Adelaide. Which suited me fine, because it gave me the opportunity to develop my storytelling skills in an environment that was unpressured. I could make mistakes and have fun, and not get hammered by the tv execs.
Well, not much…
Being the youngest reporter there I was often given the shittiest jobs. It turned out to be a great training ground, because within two years I would be poached by the highest rating current affairs show on commercial tv, and a year later I would win the country’s highest award in television, a Logie, for Television Reporter of the Year.
But back to Adelaide –
It was a slow day in Adelaide and each day we had to fill half an hour of tv – to screen at prime time at 7:30pm. I was sent out to do a “puff piece” on milk cartons. This was 1976, and there’d been complaints in the local newspaper that the cartons, that had new-fangled pop-up spouts, were hard to open.
You have to understand that in Adelaide in 1976, it hadn’t been that long ago that milk got delivered in cans from the back of horse-drawn carts.
Anyway, I did this “filler” piece, and I had some fun with it, and then duly forgot about it. Until a few months ago, when my sister texted me to say that the ABC had put the story up on Facebook, as part of a retro series they were running.
That was four months ago.
It has now had more than two million views.
I guess that makes me viral.
Huh – and I always thought that being viral required bedrest and a hot lemon drink.
The video has been shared on Facebook more than 10k times, and had nearly 6k comments. And some of the comments are hilarious.
Some have required me to respond, such as:
Troy: He looks a bit like Ted Bundy.
Me: Ted Bundy didn’t wear turtlenecks.
Troy: Yes he did.
Peter: He doesn’t know how to pull the flaps apart. He must be gay.
Me: Actually I’m not, but I’ve since learned how the flaps work.
Margaret: My god, and he’s married. I hope he didn’t breed.
Me: I did. Watch out.
Christine: I want to punch him. HARD.
Christine: Sorry Bill
Yousef: I need to meet this man.
Me: Believe me, you don’t!
Kusdi: For his age, he was very dumb.
Me: I still am…
There were a lot of comments from Millennials about how useless Boomers were/are, and how I had more than a passing resemblance to various serial killers.
At the time I did that story, it might have been seen by maybe 100,000 people the night it went to air. More than forty years later, and in four months it’s been seen by more than 2 million. What a crazy world we live in!
Here is the video: