TRUE OPINION: The corporate types who run professional sports such as the AFL love pointing the finger of sin at everybody else apart from their hypocritical selves, writes Kieran Butler.
It was late last week when AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan, waded into the already days-long orgy of Australian hypocrisy surrounding Collingwood player, Jordan De Goey. Speaking to the media, McLachlan claimed: “I won’t get into the individual specifics other than to say our position at the AFL is really clear – there is no place other than behaviour across our community that has total respect for women”.
If you are looking for paragons of virtue, then look no further than people who work in and around the AFL. Ethics, morality and football clubs go together like cocaine and merchant bankers. In fact, these days many of us walk straight past our local church, into a sports club, past the pokies and sports gambling ads, to join a feminist book circle looking for spiritual guidance and examples of how to live our best lives.
Not long ago, Gillon McLachlan and his family leveraged large donations to the LNP to get former Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, to intervene and overturn a deportation order when one of their French au pairs arrived in Australia on a tourist visa.
Is it morally problematic to seek favourable treatment from a position of wealth and power? Who can tell? But unless your au pair is genuinely French, they are essentially just a nanny – irrespective of how much you reckon you respect them.
Garry Lyon’s marriage counselling business never really got off the ground after he moved in on his best mate’s wife, but his opinion on the behaviour of De Goey is unequivocal: “There is an issue with the female involved, and we’re not suggesting this is not consensual, but that’s entitled behaviour that’s not acceptable in any way, shape or form” Lyon said.
“The female involved” is Remy Jackson. Of the brief moment in a grainy video where De Goey attempts to reenact what Justin Timberlake did to Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl in 2004, Jackson wrote “I can’t believe the backlash towards Jordy & Myself over here in Bali … nothing to see here”.
Over the past week, the growing cavalcade of AFL media hacks needed something zeitgeisty upon which to justify their lynching of De Goey, and “disrepect for women” was all they really had to hang their hats on. Other than that, the Instagram video depicts De Goey as just another twenty something bloke in Bali getting wankered on cheap Bintang.
As far as the likes of Lyon and McLachlan are concerned, Jackson’s opinion is irrelevant. Ironically, she is reduced to an object by these flawed middle aged men, and denied any agency whatsoever. Surely, that is far more disrespectful.
Over at radio 3AW, Neil Mitchell waded into the interminable furore by asking the rhetorical question “Does ADHD turn you into a misogynistic, anti-social, Bali boofhead?”. The word misogynist is now bandied about with such gay abandon it has lost all meaning.
The phrase “Bali boofhead” turned Mitchell’s old mate Eddie McGuire incandescent with rage, so he turned up to remonstrate with Mitchell. It was excruciating radio: Two old stagers having a stoush about lies, nasty streaks, Married At First Sight and what morality means to the millennials.
Never mind that Mitchell and his audience are old enough to remember when “Who listens to the radio?” was a 45 rpm single released on vinyl that you bought from a physical record shop, or that McGuire’s relevance is disappearing faster than Lisa Wilkinson’s credibility. They are all from a bygone era when TV and radio presenter’s opinions actually mattered.
Every single one of these people gives thanks daily that there wasn’t a camera in everybody’s hands when they were out and about in their heyday. Back then, after a night out drinking with Darren Millane and Denis Banks, McGuire took a seat on a bus his mates were pretending to commandeer out of Spencer Street bus depot. Very few people know that.
Young people have a nuanced understanding of the ubiquity of social media that the dinosaurs of old media fail to understand. It was implied in Remy Jackson’s response, which was roundly ignored because it didn’t suit the old media narrative and agenda. De Goey’s Timberlake moment was tomfoolery with someone he considers his equal. If the person involved does not feel disrespected, how can it be disrespectful?
As a middle aged white man, I will confess that even I don’t completely understand what the f*ck the young people are on about most of the time. Last week, hip-hop artist Lizzo removed the word “spaz” from the lyrics of her song “Grrrls” after a complaint was raised on Twitter by a disability activist. Lizzo re-recorded and re-released the song so as not to cause further offence.
When I scanned the rest of the lyrics I came across this: “I’ma go Lorena Bobbitt on him so he never fuck again, no-oh, oh, Now you can’t fuck again, bro”. This sums up neatly the current generation of youngsters for me. The word “spaz” is offensive. However, glorifying violent genital mutilation barely bothers them at all. Nothing to see here!