If you believe newspaper reports the recent tour by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannapolous (previously known as Milo Hanrahan and Milo Andreas Wagner) was a raging financial success. Milo himself is reported to have pocketed around $250,000 as part of a speaking tour that grossed over $1 million.
The promoters obviously knew just who their audience was, championed by the likes of Andrew Bolt, Mark Latham and Alan Jones. It was very much a case of preaching to the converted with an internet and social media campaign that kept venues secret until the last moment to avoid demonstrators and possible cancellations due to security concerns. No pole posters or late night TV adverts for Milo.
Whilst Yiannapolous did a number of TV interviews prior to the tour and on his arrival in Australia, much of the mainstream media chose to ignore the visit. Surprisingly there was little coverage of his more outrageous statements in our local media immediately prior to him setting foot here and describing the Opera House as one of the ugliest buildings in the world – now that’s a headline grabber!
This is despite his much reported remarks supposedly endorsing underage sex and paedophilia which saw him resign from Brietbart earlier in the year and lose a major book contract. Where was the outrage from the Christian lobby and child protection groups such as Bravehearts over his impending visit?
In 2011 the legendary US cartoonist Robert Crumb was booked to appear at the annual Graphix event at the Sydney Opera House. The Daily Telegraph decided to stir up some tabloid furore by targeting some of Crumb’s more sexualised cartoons, alerting anti-child abuse campaigner Hetty Johnson to this “self-confessed sex pervert.”
Once Hetty jumped on the band wagon describing his work as “perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind,” it was open slather for every shock jock and would be guardian of our morality. Crumb eventually reacted to the trumped up hullabaloo by pulling the plug on his own tour and who can blame him?
Speaking tours have become increasingly popular in recent years with a diverse group of personalities lining up at the lectern. From Henry Rollins, through Richard Dawkins to physicist Brian Cox, it‘s clear Australian audiences have an appetite for the spoken word. They are also hugely profitable for both the speaker and promoter, as the touring costs are nothing compared to music acts or theatre productions.
Whilst nearly all the visiting speakers are marketed to a seemingly rational and well educated audience, the success of the Yiannapolous tour, could well open the door for an influx of the more extreme – direct from the ranks of the lunatic right! Holocaust denier David Irving is never going to get a visa but what about the gun toting ‘activist’ Ted Nugent, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK and noted Trump supporter David Duke or the entire choral ensemble of the notorious “God Hates Everything” Westboro Baptist Church. Packaged together all three of them might even fill ANZ Stadium (hopefully whilst it‘s actually being demolished).
If it’s anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-PC, anti-feminist and debunks the whole myth of climate change there’s clearly an audience out there willing to shell out the big bucks to hear some imported pseudo celebrity exercise their right to freedom of speech – or freedom of ‘hate speech’. What we often get with your more extreme speakers is a kind of perverse stand up, heavy on entertainment whilst light on fact. So let’s not be too fussy about allowing the likes of Milo, Ted and David into the country but in future can they all be booked into the Comedy Store?