Boxing Rocky Balboa


He favours canary yellow eyewear. He has a unique understanding of civility. And, on his MySpace page, he lists his current mood as "flirty".

You know who I’m on about, right? This is fortunate as I’m disinclined to offer his name for three reasons.

First, the kid hardly needs more returns on a Google search.

Second and pursuant to section 534 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Victoria), publication of the name of a charged minor is restricted. (Yes. Well spotted. News organisations far better funded than this have disregarded this hindrance.)

And third: if you wish to mine personal data regarding this underage abhorrence, you may go direct to the source. To employ the youngster’s own internet cant, "If u see me around say HI. If u ever want to meet up just add me 2 MSN. BOXING_ROCKY_BALBOA@HOTMAIL.COM"

"Add meee," he adds, amiably.

Although I have not established contact with this genial and multiply pierced young host, I have, like many Australians, formed an opinion about him.

Actually, two opinions. Well, three really, but ethics and adulthood force me to rebuff my first reaction to the story, which was, in short: go, son. Go until you spew.

(Honestly, I have no notion why any part of my nerdish person should affirm the actions of a vile Van Wilder type. I loathed his sort in High School. More to the point, any neighbourhood disturbance sends me spare. I’ve called the EPA to intervene in the matter of Polka music and unabashed lederhosen wearing. My 60-something Confessional Lutheran neighbours now regard me as a killjoy. )

One irresistible view is that as evinced here by opinion columnist Anita Quigley. Our internationally downloaded antihero is seen here as a powerful paradigm for all that is wrong with the Yoof. Although, apparently, quite the cultural conservative, Quigley enunciates something many of us had been thinking. Viz. This was the work of a world in which community had dissolved.

The Young Balboa, says Quigley, was reared in a nimbus of unchecked consumption. Avarice and close relative hostility produced a child with no sense of community networks. Actually, Quigley is sounding a lot like an upright Marxist here. Alienated from labour and enamoured of hard goods, the fallen comrade unpicks the fabric of the collective farm.

It’s not as though Quigley’s popular analysis has no place. Balboa is eminently slappable and does seem to evince the qualities of a modern consumer. However, he also seems quite bright as this radio interview indicates.

Decrying the tabloid journalism of A Current Affair, the surprisingly eloquent teen shows no little awareness of the same world Quigley despises.

"She wanted me to tear up and cry," says Mr Sunglasses. He chose instead, "to give that show exactly what it deserved." By which he meant haughty disregard.

In one reading, Balboa is not an utterly useless media object. It’s entirely possible to view this kid as a wonderful media glitch. His refusal to amend his story into an ersatz morality fable for tabloid TV is the best thing I’ve seen all week.

I have no wish to come over all Cultural Studies and infer from Balboa needlessly complex motives for his performance. Further, if he were my neighbour, I’d surely box his ears and deliver a Quigley-like sermon on the importance of respect.

But I can’t help admiring his studied disregard for media. There should be more of it.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.