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Soup of This Day #390: Not Trouble, Money Or Thrills

August 16, 2014

Intercolonial football match
The first intercolonial Australian rules football match. It featured Victoria verses South Australia and was played in 1879. The game and the society it is a part of have both developed for the good since then – Engraving: Alfred May and Alfred Martin Ebsworth, 1879. Neither Alfred May or Alfred Martin Ebsworth are affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This blog is generally a pretty gentle one. I try not to rant, preferring to write about stuff without my anger excessively colouring conclusions.

I don’t always succeed at that – My pieces have a bias anyway and sometimes it’s difficult to be gentle around absolutist concepts.

Like bumper stickers.

Not all bumper stickers – I can gently mock a ‘Magic Happens’ sticker. Nobody gets hurt by a ‘Magic Happens’ sticker, except maybe former Death Eaters and I’m almost certain that they’re fictional anyway.

There is though a bumper sticker that I see a lot of and it’s not for gentle mockery. This is because it is malicious and wounding. It has a mapped outline of Australia and within that is a slogan something like, ‘If you don’t love it, leave.’

This sentiment is aimed broadly at critics of my country and more specifically at recent immigrants.

I take this personally. I was born in Western Australia but in the grand scheme of 50,000 years of settlement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, I reckon I qualify as a recent immigrant. I also don’t unconditionally love my country. It has on occasion done some unlovable things. Like steal children from those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I don’t love that, and I hope that when I see that kind of thing that I will stand up to criticise.

I’m not leaving Australia though. That sticker is not going to prompt me into going overseas. What that sticker does prompt me to do is to suggest to it’s owner that they should fuck off instead. Maybe they can find a community somewhere that will welcome their blind and introverted shtick. I don’t think that it will be a good or happy community, but hey bigots, give it a go.

Or stay. Either way, please accept that I ain’t just ignoring your sticker.

Because ignorance don’t deserve to be ignored. Not in a bumper sticker & not in TV.

Which brings me uncomfortably to Sam Newman. I’ve been reading about how a TV presenter, Sam Newman, had exposed himself last week’s on TV. This was Australian TV, an episode of Channel Nine’s The Footy Show and I was surprised that Newman had done this but not really.

The latter because Sam Newman has form. In 2008, Newman dressed a mannequin in provocative clothing and stuck a cut-out image of journalist Caroline Wilson’s face on to it. He then suggestively fondled the mannequin, riffing the whole stunt off of an article about Wilson’s wardrobe choices.

Yep.

That was in 2008. This is why I’m surprised, because how is Sam Newman even on TV any more?

That’s a rhetorical question – I’m not completely surprised – I know how douchebags get gigs on TV – They bring in ratings. That they do it by trolling, in Sam’s case most of the population, has been irrelevant to broadcasters such as Channel Nine. The Footy Show is a exemplar of this sacrifice and not just because of Newman. The 300-game veteran of the Geelong Cats – He had football credibility once – has long been a part of an ensemble cast of douchebags. It’s rare that an attention-grabbing thought about football is left un-aired by this lot, and if it can be punctuated with some casual discrimination, preferably in lingerie, then all the better.

This formula has been in play since the show’s inception in 1994 and it has been undeniably popular. The Footy Show has been at, or very near to, the top of football programming for it’s entire run. Whether it has used it’s gutter vaudeville antics for the good of the game is more ambiguous though.

Not that inaugural host and now senior Channel Nine executive, Eddie McGuire has any doubts. At a recent celebration to mark 21 years of The Footy Show, McGuire warned the governing Australian Football League (AFL) against scheduling games in the traditional The Footy Show Thursday night timeslot:

‘…be careful programming against The Footy Show with football, because The Footy Show is the greatest gift to the AFL that’s ever been.’

The greatest gift. Not football. Not the actual sport itself. No, the greatest gift to the sport is a TV show about that sport.

This throws up a philosophical conundrum – At least for the likes of Eddie McGuire. If a tree falls at an AFL game and The Footy Show can’t dress it up in suggestive clothing and grope it’s whirly grain, was there even an AFL game anyway?

Eddie thinks knot.

A better question for Eddie to consider might be how is The Footy Show a gift? Gifts are typically free. The Footy Show is not free – It exacts a high price for it’s reckless disregard of the sport and the people who might otherwise embrace that sport.

Sure, there’s that argument that any publicity is good publicity and maybe that’s true when your target audience is people with ignorant bumper stickers. This is 2014 though and large parts of a crowded sporting market are going to look for at least some semblance of adherence to basic social standards.

I think even Sam Newman understands that. At that same 21st anniversary celebration, Newman took the time to at least try and defend the intentions of the show:

‘We take the piss out of ourselves first and then we think everyone else is fair game. Men, women, beasts. We make no apology for it. We don’t try to be malicious. We don’t try to be condescending necessarily.’

That last bit is correct – It’s hard to be condescending when you’re looking for the lowest common denominator on any matter, and then seeing if you can limbo beneath even that. So that’s true Sam, but I’m calling bullshit on the malicious bit.

Because that attack on Wilson was as malicious as it gets. There are other words for it too but ‘gift’ is not one of them Eddie. Unless you’re talking about one that sees Sam Newman’s career continuing unabated and The Footy Show not being shit-canned. That’s a gift alright for Sam, and to distort a phrase from the former Australian politician Mark Latham, that’s also a gift for the conga line of suck holes that feed off of the garbage served up by The Footy Show on a regular basis.

The show should have been axed in 2008. Had it been, the AFL would have survived, carrying on with the on-field entertainment driving the sport. It might even have thrived just a bit more, profiting from demonstrating that women belong in the game, just as they belong in life – Considered with equal and great respect.

But no.

Instead we get Sam Newman, accompanied by a stripper in a revealing nurse’s costume, flashing his genitals on TV. Because ratings.

That’s not a gift to the AFL. If it was then I hope you’ve got the receipt Eddie, because I’m not wanting to just shove this cheap and nasty present out of sight like that weird painting from Aunty Dolores*. Instead I reckon that everyone in the game, and a bunch of people outside of it, are owed an exchange.

I’m not saying we need to replace The Footy Show with the the vague and airy banality of ‘Magic Happens.’ What I am suggesting is that maybe for Sam Newman and the lads to fuck off to perform their act for a community that will unconditionally love their blind and introverted shtick. I don’t think that it will be a good or happy community, but hey bigots, give it a go.

*Name and gift fictional. I love all of the gifts.

Not Trouble, Money Or Thrills

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