The importance of story-telling seems to grow: Dirty dancing

Or “False determinism in a world of chance”

A few thoughts on the growing importance of stories, after observing things recently.


It seems that the world likes certainty. Loves it. Members of our society trade in certainties. Does anyone see things in shades of grey anymore?
Love that!
Hate that!
It seems true in sport, art, and broader life.

[for all images here, click to enlarge]

“Best Grand Final ever!”
“Worst Grand Final ever!”
“Australia are rubbish!”
“Australia are champions!”
“Dokic is a sook!”
“Exclusive: Why Richmond won the flag!”
“Exclusive: Why Australia will win in Brisbane”


“It’s OK to say No!”
“Love is love!”




“The love of my life when I was a kid
Used to write me the sweetest letters
And one night he shot a couple of birds in a pool
Thought it was to impress me”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing


Information exchange is rampant. News and online media deal with certainty. Social interactions trade in certainty. The open line of talkback opinion seems to have morphed into weblogs (like this one, I note, with certainty), tweets, Facebook posts. Social media is the place to be.



And whole movements in social transformation now occur with the aid of social media momentum. #RoseArmy is a good example. Brilliant. A narrative-changing example. It is profound. An explained story.



And yet, most posts are utter tripe.



I’m reminded of a passage from the Desiderata:
“Beware of loud persons – they are vexatious to the spirit.”

Such misplaced certainty.



And Sir Isaac Newton.



Which reminds me of the horse racing industry.
Chock-a-block with misplaced confidence.
Sam Pickles knows.
The shifty shadow.
Why one will win; yet why it lost. Unexplained stories.




“He was my older brother’s friend and had a light around him
that would chase off any winter
He had no father and his mother seemed younger than ours
And he was a dancer”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing



It reminds me of the newspaper industry.
So much certainty.
Opinion as news.





“He had the keys to a place where we could practice
It felt almost like Dirty Dancing
Minus the United States and instead of a resort
it was the Folkets Hus basement”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing



It reminds me of the football and cricket reporting industries. A lack of imagination. Subservient to… whom? To the employer? To the deadline? To the game? To the controlling body?
Unexplained stories. Unexplained motives.


But when a controlling body makes a never-ending stream of decisions bearing no relation to evidence nor expectation, fans switch off. For no amount of investment is repaid.
Unexplained stories.




-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing


How good to spread the wings again.
To agitate again.
To roar along with thousands again.
Midnight Oil.
Explaining their stories, their songs.



“Well then I became a singer and he became a chimney sweep
And a hunter and a father of two so far
I got a grand piano and a house with a chimney
And this morning he came by to sweep it”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing




To be reminded that footy is about the bounce of the ball.
As is life.
Your own history of illness, injury, disease, nation of birth, colour of your skin.
Your navigating the lottery of genetics and nationality.



“And we sat on the steps to the house listening
To the birds of the coming spring singing
He said “get up on the roof and put up a net,
or they will build a nest in your chimney” ”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing


Who are you?
Who is another?
Who is that man on Manus Island? Who are his parents? His loved ones? What are his hopes for the future?
Unexplained stories.



Who is that man in the Immigration Department chair? Who are his parents? His loved ones? What are his hopes for the future?




Who is Ed Cowan? Who is George Bailey? Tim Paine? Peter Nevill? Who is Glenn Maxwell? Who is Shaun Marsh?
Unexplained stories.
Who is Mile Jedinak?
Their loved ones?
Their hopes for the future?




“And when I touched his sweepers arm with my piano fingers
He said “watch Frida, your hands will get dirty”
And I felt like I had a fever”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing



What is Cricket Australia?
What are the ramifications of this year’s pay dispute, that saw contracted individuals without an employment contract, without a job?
It is a dead-end story.
Who is James Sutherland?
Who are his parents?
His loved ones?
What are his hopes for the future?




“The dark powers, the mayflowers
The roads on which we travel
How he told me no and how my young heart broke
And how a cold new world unravelled”
-Frida Hyvönen – Dirty Dancing



Coverage of the AFL trade period was perhaps the new high water mark of vacuous self-serving bullshit. This was starting a fight in order to then report on the fight. And why report this drivel on the sports pages? Surely these stories should have appeared alongside the share market fluctuations. Or the horoscopes.


But air space is so precious. Attention is so precious. The dollar is so precious, we invoke copyright law.



Amid the cacophony of voices, not one, still, can improve on Socrates.


“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
“When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

All Socrates



Sporting bodies, where are your carts and where are your horses?
We want to watch.
We want to believe.
Let us in.
As The Doggies did in 2016. As the Tigers did in 2017.
Let us in to your story.
Let us in to your story and give us something to believe in; some basis from which to examine a life.

In this world of instant global communication, stories spreads like wildfire.


“I guess you do the dirty now and I do the dancing
And once we were Baby and Johnny
In a small boring town where the winters were long
And our real names were Frida and Jimmy



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Geoff Lemon asks questions. Today via Twitter:

    “Shaun is playing very well at the moment, having scored consistently in the One-Day Cup and Sheffield Shield.”

    George Bailey: 11, 52, 36, 86, 126, 62, 37, 3, 20, 0, 106, 59. Never in the frame.

  2. But Sean had his phone when Trev and Greg and the goat………………….

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Opinion as news. Exactly why newspapers are stuffed.

    Perfect that the Oils are back. The time has come.

    Another cracking piece ER

  4. Anthony W Collins says

    As the mighty Oils would put it….

    I know that the sunset empire shudders and shakes
    I know there’s a floodgate and a raging river
    I say the silence of the ribbons of iron and steel
    I say hear the punch drunk huddle drive hammer and steel

    Sometimes you’re beaten to the call
    Sometimes you’re taken to the wall
    But you don’t give in

    I know that the cannibals wear smart suits and ties
    I know they arm wrestle on the altar
    I say don’t leave your heart in a hard place

    Sometimes you’re shaken to the core
    Sometimes the face is gonna fall
    But you don’t give in

  5. Thanks all.
    Strange days.
    Keep punching.

  6. Colin Ritchie says

    Thought provoking David,! Really enjoyed the read.

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great observations ER. Hyperbole and cynicism pervade sport, politics the media because they get the clicks. Sex used to sell until they realised division and conflict get the punters to have a crack on online forums and social media.
    “When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Too true, yet now slander begins before and continues during the debate these days.
    When you cut through all the bullshit, isn’t it all about ego? Do we REALLY need to be on Social Media? Would we lose our identity, our record of existence? Perhaps, somehow we hope to show that we matter, or that we care..or that we don’t.

  8. Quality as ever ER. Look forward to your musings on the Ashes.

  9. Thanks Col, Phil, Jack.
    Very kind.
    Play on.

  10. Peter Warrington says

    I felt like i was coming down the front of a nice curler on that story, waiting for the inevitable dump into the sandbank.

    Weatherald – 4 tons already and twin 150s in a game where Marsh got a blot and a 50. not even mentioned. 10 years younger, btw…

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