The Kelly Cash Cow : a nice little earner.

The NKF Key Master and the producers of this bit of Kelly Exploitation are running a competition!
It amuses me how on every news article, blog and Facebook page where devotees of Ned Kelly are able to make comments, whenever something happens that is what they would call “anti Kelly”, someone will always get a few lazy “likes” by posting an opinion that this is just about someone trying to make money off the name of Ned Kelly. “Likes” and indignant expressions of disgust and horror at the base commercial exploitation of their hero inevitably follow. “How dare these Kelly haters be so disrespectful as to take his name in vain, and try to make money off Ned!!”
Just a week or two ago on the Facebook Page of the Ned Kelly Forum, the Key Master posted exactly these thoughts about an advert for some garden  hose fittings that were part of the Ned Kelly Range. He wanted everyone else to express their disgust about it too – but almost nobody responded, and then after a woman reckoned it was a good idea to be claiming these hoses were tough like Ned Kelly, and authentic Australian, the whole post and its comments disappeared! But now he’s done a complete about face and is enthusiastically backing the exploitation of the Kelly Image by liquor merchants!(see Pic above)
As  this example illustrates distaste for people using the name of Ned Kelly to make money actually only applies when it suits them. If it doesn’t  then hypocrisy becomes the order of the day and this attitude of moral superiority disappears without trace – stick Neds name on a new brand of Liquor, make trashy little Tinny holders with Ned on them, gross plastic Helmets and cheap T-shirts with Ned blazing away with two revolvers, key holders, soap–on-a-rope…….the list is endless and not a peep out of the Sympathizers at all this crass commercialism.
There are of course plenty of people making money from Ned Kelly, especially out of tourists attracted to Kelly Country where the Outbreak occurred.  Most of these visitors wouldn’t have the faintest idea about the Kelly story, apart from some very rudimentary half remembered facts about bush-ranging, helmets and hanging, so year in and year out they make easy targets for soaking down by the Kelly mythmakers, hustlers and Tourist promoters. They relieve them of their cash and send them away full of sentimental fairy stories about their poor misunderstood hero. Even though sympathizer tour  and museum operators will no doubt parrot the line that there is still no answer to the question “was Ned Kelly a hero or a villain”, and make a pretense of being unbiased, will any visitors to Kelly Country hear more than a token word here or there about the other side of the story? Will any be told that Kelly was NOT Australias Robin Hood, that he was NOT relentlessly and unfairly hounded by Police, that he LIED about the Fitzpatrick Incident and about his murder of Lonigan, that the true hero of Glenrowan was a brave limping school teacher who prevented the Kelly gang from committing an atrocity, that the “madness” of Glenrowan arose out of Ned Kelly’s obsessional hatred of Police, or that the “Kelly Republic of Victoria” is a device invented by sympathisers after Kelly’s death as a kind of smoke screen to cover up the reality of what the armour was created for ? How many will go away realizing that the Armour was in fact not a brilliant innovation but a joke, an abject failure of design and functionality, that belongs in the lists of great flops, like the Titanic, like the Hindenburg and those flying machines that never took off and sometimes killed their inventors? How many will genuinely hear the other side of the confected “debate” about Ned Kelly when they go to Kelly Country, or go on Kelly Tours run by Kelly sympathisers, or hear the “Truth” from so called Neducators? I suspect none.
The highpoint of the Kelly industry’s year, where the Kelly Cash Cow gets well and truly milked is the Ned Kelly Weekend, at Beechworth, and its all happening again next weekend.  It claims to be a chance to witness historical re-enactments and an opportunity to explore the “stories behind the Kelly Outbreak” but in reality it’s a Tourist promotion, aimed at boosting visitors and cash-flow to the region and promoting the Kelly Tourism Industry. All the hotels and motels Pubs and restaurants are booked out weeks in advance and the tourist promoters and souvenir hawkers no doubt do a roaring trade.
I daresay as their Cash registers ring,  the local Businessmens Associations are very grateful for the handful of sympathizers who take Kelly Mythology seriously, grow beards, don period costumes and donate their time and resources to the weekends entertainment. But after having watched an old recording of the mock ‘retrial” of Ned Kelly, and having listened to the monologue at the Melbourne Gaol by a woman pretending to be Ellen Kelly, I have no doubt the re-enactments performed for the Kelly Weekend are very far from “Historical”. They will be emotive propaganda for the Kelly fairytales – cartoon characterisations featuring our brave Ned against the corrupt Cops and Squatters.

I read a report on IO from some years back about a presentation at the Kelly Weekend of the findings of the CSI@SBC team, and it reported open debates about their subject with Bill Denheld. I agree with the comment on this blog yesterday that Morrissey and MacFarlane should be invited to a Debate there, to make the weekend more interesting and more honest, but thats never going to happen.Kelly country and the Ned Kelly Weekend is about the retelling and maintenance of fairytales and no-body is going to let facts get in the way.
This year they are promoting violence mayhem and murder to kids, with a kids sized set of Kelly replica armour to be won – what an appalling example to be promoting to children, making light of the entire devastation of Glenrowan, as if it was something glorious. However, apart from all the usual stuff, I note that in this years programme there will be a talk given by Dr. Craig Cormick, the science writer who edited the book about identifying Ned Kellys bones called “Ned Kelly Under the Microscope” He identifies himself as a Kelly sympathizer but that didn’t stop Kelly Forum Member  Steve Jager from rubbishing him in this ignorant and uninformed Post on Facebook last year:
“a majority of the research used by the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in this book was taken from Kelly researchers after the discovery of Ned’s remains in Pentridge.. as it was required by law that the remains were to be identified at the VIFM, it hardly makes any of the contributors to the book “experts”, when in all fact they are just doing their job and trying to profit from Ned’s story..”
Theres that hatred of people trying to profit from Ned again! I wonder if Steve has the guts to tell this to Dr Cormicks face at his lecture?
Even more interesting would be to see if Mr Brad Webb is going to go to the lecture and apologise for calling the Dr a  “Clown” ?  Perhaps he can also tell  the good Doctor about how the Forensic experts got it all wrong when they identified the so called “Baxter skull” as being the one dug up from the burial site at the Melbourne Gaol in 1927 ?  What would mere “experts” know? Brad Webb will be able to tell the Doctor that his mate Des Anderson took Ned Kellys skull out of the display case in the 1960’s and put in its place a skull from a crate of bones that came from India! ( Webb made these now disproved claims in an essay in 2011 and has yet to correct it, and he abused me for pointing out his mistake, so I presume he still thinks he knows more than the forensic experts do..)
What one has to realize is that  Kelly Country, and the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend is all about maintaining the fairytale of Ned Kelly, and has very little to do with historical truth. The historical truth would wreck the Kelly Industry, because theres not much money to be made in remembering killers and psychopaths. I believe theres a Jack-the-Ripper tour you can do in London but somehow I think the fairy tales of princesses and Kings and Queens at Buckingham Palace draws a  much greater crowd. And so the fairytale of Ned Kelly will go on being told for some time yet – well, for at least as long as theres a buck to be made out of it!

(I am unlikely to get to many of these events, so if anyone who reads this Blog is planning to go, it would be most interesting to get a report back from you about what took place at the Cormick lecture in particular, but elsewhere on the weekend as well. An audio recording or video of the re-enactments or any other activities would be useful too.)

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13 Replies to “The Kelly Cash Cow : a nice little earner.”

  1. Shane Murray says: Reply

    I shuddered every time I reconised the name of those wags. They are misinformative, don't correcct or apologise for their mistakes, and two of them disrupted an event at last year's NKWE. Amazing what havoc a few yobboes can cause. The programme is "same old, same old". If the region relies on Kelly pilgrimages, you'd think the organisers would put s bit of effort into providing something "new" Once you've seen one Ned Kelly tattoo competition, you've seen them all.

    Which reminds me of that newspaper article which noted more than a fair share of men's bodies at the Adelaide morgue had Ned Kelly tattoos.After reading your blog, I now understand why.

  2. Refund please! says: Reply

    Indigo Council should be impeached for allowing misleading Kelly-related trial re-enactments in the courthouse. NKWE visitors deserve better than this.

  3. If that Ned Elvis impersonator starts strumming his Ned ditties we will stage a noisy walk-out!

  4. All Trussed Up says: Reply

    If Beechworth was any good, the Abbott government would have sold it to the Chinese by now. Don't think China would tolerate the Kelly louts for long though.

  5. Conn Gratts says: Reply

    Hey Dee! I spied a page hits number of well-over 43,000 hits here the other day. WOW. That's a way huge number .

  6. Dee, you talk of the Kelly cash cow and exploitation, but those Ned whisky & cola cans excite me (and, no, I don't drink whisky nor cola, either). I would love to have a couple of those (empty) cans sitting on my shelf with my other "Kelly Kollectibles." 🙂

    As for the NK Weekend, I recall one year reading that they had record crowds and there was not enough room in the venues to accommodate everyone and many who had traveled long distances to get there were very disappointed. That seemed like extremely poor planning. Maybe they have gotten their act together or maybe not as many go these days? Are there any official numbers for the weekend attendance through the years and not just estimations for the media that could be inflated by the promoters? Has anyone who goes every year seen a fluctuation in attendance?

  7. If I was a NK Weekend Organiser I would fly you in as a Special Guest, you could give the Key Note address, go for a Tour of Kelly Country, visit Neds armour at the State Library, visit the Melbourne Gaol and return home with a suitcase full of Kelly souvenirs like those cans!

  8. I think that around-the-clock bodyguards would have to also be included in that deal! 😉

  9. How about a nice new custom-fitted set of Kelly Armour from the guy that made the kid sized one? Seriously though I think its time someone organised a serious Kelly Seminar with MacFarlane and Morrissey, Jones, McDermott, Kennedy and you and Bill among others – Peter Fitzsimons could be the Moderator… wouldn’t that be fun! The last one was in 1968 “Ned Kelly Man and Myth” much has developed since then….

  10. In that case, they would just aim for my legs! But, in all serious, as you say, rest assured that I would never do any public speaking or be part of a live panel. While I love the idea of exchanging of ideas and debating between the named parties, I am better suited to the written word in getting my points across and expressing myself.

  11. I don't think there will be any coherent visitor stats for NKWE at Beechworth. That would mean extra council staff counting people and traffic, and measuring attendances at events. Indigo council are generally supportive but would not fund number-crunching. Small venues don't help. Even if a hotel has a large dinningroom that doesn't mean a sell-out crowd amounts to much. I'm not being negative, but there are many other things to be factored in. I think the NKWE is reasonably well attended, but the numbers could be much better.

  12. I have returned from the Ned Kelly weekend at Beechworth.

    It was excellent. Matt Shore, Patrick Watt and John Suta did a great job of unveiling the "Shot" Nolan painting at the Burke Museum on the Friday night. And it was here I met Trent Cupid, Brad Webb and Paul O Keefe. Despite differences of opinion, they were good blokes and a great night was had at the Hibernian afterward with descendants, enthusiasts, curious onlookers and actors from The Last Outlaw series.

    The Ned Kelly Vault the next morning was my first visit and an eye opener. It's a well balanced look at the Outbreak and I am proud of the part I played in it. I consider that Matt and Patrick have done a great job. It's gratifying that there is now a Kelly exhibition with a permanent home at last.

    That afternoon, I met Hope McGann, a descendant of Aaron Sherritt and a nice girl as well as members of the BHRG committee, Steve Jager, Kelvyn Gill, Wade, Eric and other well known Kelly heads. .

    Great weekend overall despite a lot of The Last Outlaw cast not being able to make it for the Saturday night dinner. . I did spend time though with Elaine Cusick, Ian Jones, Ric Herbert (Steve), Peter Hehir (Aaron), Stuart Fairley and others.

  13. David MacFarlane says: Reply

    Having a great time at Beechworth. Best part was catching up wth all the gang at the Hibernian on Friday night. Wish I had of handed out business cards!

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