Arts Henderson Marxism
posted by September 20 at 10:35 AMon
It began with this TV show:
The Henderson Kids occupies no place in America’s popular culture. Its place is not even that high in the realm of the popular culture that it owes its existence, Australia’s. And when I watched the program in the mid 80s in Zimbabwe, none of my close or distant friends noticed it at all. The only show from Australia that made a mark on the culture of Zimbabweans who could afford a TV was the Paul Hogan Show.
Despite its obscurity, The Henderson Kids had a profound and revolutionary effect on my young mind. I can say that before seeing the show, I was this type of person; after seeing the show, I was another type of person. The person before the show appeared on ZBC: apolitical; the person after its appearance: political.
Wikipeadia has a surprisingly good description of the first season of the The Henderson Kids:
The series centres around a teenage brother and sister, Steve ( Paul Smith) and Tamara (Nadine Garner) forced to leave the city and move to the country to live with their uncle Mike ( Nicholas Eadie), a police officer in the fictional town of Haven Bay, after their mother Alice (Diane Craig) is suddenly killed in a motoring accident (run over by a cement truck!).
The remainder of the series deals with the Henderson kids making a new life in Haven Bay (Birregurra, Victoria) and making friends with the local gang - Ted Morgan (Ben Mendelsohn), “Cowboy” Clarke ( Mark Hennessy), Char Kernow (Kylie Minogue) and Brian “Brains” Buchanan ( Bradley Kilpatrick). Finally, they must defend the family land, Hendersons’ Point, against the schemes of ruthless businessman Ashley Wheeler ( Peter Whitford). Steve falls in love with Wheeler’s gorgeous daughter Sylvia (Annie Jones), to compound matters.
The impact on me is not the death of the mother (existential, Heidegger, the absolute mystery), nor the close relationship between the teenage brother and sister (psychological, Hegel, the fairytale), nor the move from the city to the rural (cosmopolitanism, Baudelaire, Proust), but the fact that the bad guy of the show was a “ruthless businessman,” a capitalist. What impressed me was the very idea that a man could be bad simply because he wanted to make more money, to make more money at any cost, to make money at the expense of the happiness and well being of others. This had never occurred to me. Before the realization, a person was bad because of Satan, or because he was a racist, or because he/she had a poor education. Indeed, most people were bad because of the third reason, because they did not read the right (or enough) books, had very little culture, learning, letters in them—in this sense (or view), a rich person could bad because he or she lacked culture, not because he or she had (or wanted) too much money.
The Henderson Kids made it clear that money was the source of all problems. That the history of human struggles was based in class and not in culture or religion. This realization was a ray of truth that beamed from the TV screen to the neurons of my brain, completely rearranging their networks, their associations, the pattern of my memories. The Henderson Kids made me see the world for the first time.