‘Just cause I said it,
Don’t mean that I meant it.’
Adele’s words from her ‘21’ album have been manically swimming around my head overnight, and not just because I’m up before 5 in order to get started on this blog, with a hu-yuge day looming.
A bit of background
Last night, the internet at the Australian end of the universe went into meltdown with K Rudd’s resignation as Foreign Minister. Before Kevin 0-7 set himself up for a title shot on Monday, the news headline was somewhat less important.
The title of this blog sums it up well, and as much as I don’t want to link to it, here is the story, if you want the full info. Basically, a meathead former player, who I won’t even name here, was paying out on a female journalist who had allegedly written untruths about him.
Being a mature man and all, he took his complaints to the very public world of Facebook, where someone came back with the very bogan, ‘she needs a good shag,’ response.
Unnamed meathead ex-footballer then replied in jest, even naming one Dermott Brereton as the man to ‘do the job’.
Enter one Dermott Brereton.
From his ‘I don’t do charity like that!’ retort emerged quite the stoush, with Dermott now having to justify his comments and reiterate his respect for women.
For the prosecution
Firstly, the predictable outcry does have merit. This type of dialogue between powerful men strongly associated with the AFL reeks of a nasty, vindictive attitude towards women. It represents everything the AFL is trying to distance itself from, hence the institution’s ‘no association’ response. They want none of it.
The whole sex as power theme is ugly and most men, like the AFL, don’t want a bar of it. Yet, all too often we get painted with the same, broad stroke. As in, ‘all guys are into strippers and porn, it’s normal’. Um, no they don’t, and no it isn’t.
Still, Brereton has a history in this. In ’08 he was included in a ‘worst dressed list’ and responded to the female who wrote the column by commenting that ‘I think I actually slept with her, but didn’t call her back.’ Just terrible.
The whole ‘I didn’t know it was public,’ reeks of naiveté at best, and gross negligence and recklessness at its worst. I am constantly reinforcing to 10, 11 and 12 year olds that what they do online leaves a permanent footprint. That Brereton, as a very public figure, didn’t consider that what he was saying would become public reflects the very irresponsible behaviour that even these 10-12 year olds wouldn’t subscribe to. Besides, even if we take him on his word, does that make it acceptable? In the words of Steve Austin, ‘Hell no!’
For the defence
On the flip side, not everything between men, or even between women, is meant for public consumption. Boys’ nights can be a forum for letting off steam, saying things to get a rise out of your mates, being controversial and purposely seeking a devil’s advocate position, just for the fun of it. I know that many times, I would not want a transcription of what was said, even from yours truly.
Adele’s words ring true here. Brereton appears to have been ‘just’ joining in the fun, and even though the tone of the conversation is neither respectful or appropriate, it could have been a flippant comment in jest and was never meant to be repeated to the journalist in question, or the mainstream media.
Ok, so I didn’t mean for that analysis to go that long! Let’s move on…
Is this news?!
What is remarkable in all of this is that our insatiable appetite for the ‘big story’ means that dribble like this becomes headline news. This wasn’t an article I stumbled upon; it was the lead story in the most respected paper in the city. There’s even a major editorial follow-up today.
Front page stories during my year without sport include a player who made a $20 bet on his own footy team, an ex-AFL legend being found with traces of cocaine on his clothing at Barwon Prison and now, a Facebook b#### session between two well-known, irresponsible ex-footballers. Time away from sport has given me occasional bouts of humour of what our publications deem to be ‘headline news’.
It’s also given me an insight into why those outside the sporting sphere hold it in such contempt.
The public stratosphere
Our fascination with public figures, sporting or otherwise, has led to these types of reports. The whole ‘chicken or the egg’ issue of trash news – ‘They only print it because people buy it,’ / ‘People couldn’t buy it if it was never printed in the first place,’ needs its own blog post, or series of blog posts! We won’t be able to do it justice here.
Our fascination with celebrity culture has never been greater. In Australia, our voyeurism extends to music, tv, film and sports such as cricket and tennis. But like it or not, the major Australian celebrity is the AFL footballer. (Sorry rugby league, you’re not even close.)
In our increasingly global celebrity landscape, we see Lady Ga Ga wearing meat dresses and getting to meet the Queen, so it’s not like there’s a significant deterrent to attain celebrity standing, well, besides their overdoses, broken marriages and extreme bouts with addictions.
Never has Jim Carrey’s quote rung so true, yet been heard by so few.
‘I wish everyone could be rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.’
Thank goodness Kevin Rudd decided to overwhelm the news cycle with his latest manoeuvring. Now we can get onto the more important things in life, like backstabbing politicians, broken promises and the rest of the AFL pre-season…